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Life Story / Obituary
Timothy “Mo” Mokelke was one of those unique people that make life more interesting just by being alive. A colorful and artistic man with a heart of gold, he lived his life full of adventures, hard work and love for family. Tim was a man who cared for everyone he knew, and he expressed this care through his generosity and willingness to always lend a helping hand. Friends and family will remember Tim not for the things he did, but for the reason he did them. His presence in the world will be greatly missed, but the memories he created with those he loved will be remembered forever.
The world was not a very safe place the year that Tim was born. World War II showed little signs of abatement as more and more U.S. troops shipped out for the European continent. Yet, thousands of women stood in unity and labored to keep domestic industries running full steam back home. Timothy Alois Mokelke began his life on February 12, 1942, in Milwaukee Hospital, the youngest of two children born to Alois and Dorothy (Jenkins) Mokelke. Along with his older sister, Patricia, Tim grew up in the town of Lake (which later became part of Milwaukee), first in the lower flat of a duplex on 8th Street, then in a home at 4454 South Lenox Street. His father earned a living as a printer at the Milwaukee Journal, while his mother was a homemaker. Time together as a family was important, so every summer they enjoyed taking the kids on vacation for a week at a summer cottage somewhere up north. Tim’s mother enjoyed traveling in a car, so they took many leisure trips exploring Wisconsin and Michigan, and stopped in to visit Grandma Johnson on her farm in Portage, Michigan. Tim and his dad would take time to go fishing and hunting too.
Tim’s father was a part of a union at the Journal, and every year they had a Christmas party for the members. It became customary that the members’ children would be the entertainment for the night, so Tim and his sister, Patricia, did a duet of Jingle Bells; however, Tim forgot the bells for the “jingle” part so he had to adlib the “ring-a-ling-a-ling.” Perhaps this is where Tim got his interest peaked in music. It happened that his school, A.E. Burdick School, had a music program for band and orchestra and Tim joined, playing the trombone. He went on to play for the famous Lake Band too. One requirement by the band director, Mr. Cerwin, was that members take lessons from him during the summer, but Tim’s parents could not afford the extra expense and he certainly did not want to give up his summer for it either. So, his trombone went in the closet until years later when it was traded in for drum lessons for his own son. Once in high school, Tim put his artistic interests into drawing, and was really quite good.
After graduating from Bay View High School in 1960, Tim went to work at Bender’s Service Station for a while, before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He proudly served as part of the 82nd Airborne stationed in Germany, doing what he called “jumping out of a perfectly good plane.” After his honorable discharge in 1963, Tim returned home and went back to work at Bender’s while waiting for his pressroom apprenticeship at Milwaukee Journal to come through. He was proud to be following in his father’s footsteps and on April 12, 1963, Tim entered into his 2-year apprenticeship. Tim, or “Mo” as his co-workers called him, went on to be a Pressman at the Journal for 39 years, until retiring on April 12, 2002.
But Tim’s life was so much fuller than just his career - family had its place too, and it was the moments he shared with those he loved that meant the world to him. Growing up, Tim’s family was close friends with the Subel family, who had five children, Harry, Frank, Ted Jr., Helen and Bob; Tim was best friends with Harry. The families met often at St. Veronica’s summer festival, and one year Helen stayed later at the festival, and she and Tim had a chance to get to know each other. It wasn’t long before the two began dating, and after a year courtship, Tim asked Helen to be his wife on Valentine’s Day 1973. A year later, on a beautiful spring day, the two were happily married, and spent a romantic honeymoon in Florida. In 1982 they welcomed the birth of their son, Ryan, who brought them great pride and joy.
Truly a proud father, Tim doted on his son Ryan, and took him every week to the Journal with him to get his paycheck (perhaps to proudly show him off too). Like in his childhood, Tim, Helen and Ryan would take summer trips to the family cottage outside of Wautoma, Wisconsin for some fun and relaxation. Tim also enjoyed deer hunting, fishing in Rhinelander and ski trips to Rib Mountain. Since his teenage years, Tim had loved cars and was a big fan of drag racing, especially when watching it in person at Great Lakes Dragway in Union Grove. He enjoyed hitting the wide open roads on his motorcycle too. Family was by far a great source of happiness for Tim, and he derived great joy from watching his loved ones grow and succeed in life. Family get togethers for the holidays were some of his favorite moments, and he made sure to dress up for it too. Unfortunately, his marriage to Helen later ended in divorce.
Tim was a man of many different interests. He liked shooting pool, decorating for the holidays, and cooking, which was often inspired by one of his favorite cooks, Julia Child, Graham Kerr and Martin Yan. Tim was a loyal Wisconsin sports fan, and faithfully followed the Brewers, Packers and Milwaukee Admirals. And when it came to music, he liked groups like Santana, Black Sabbath, Dwight Yoakam and the Rolling Stones. He was always interested in Harleys, particularly custom choppers, and classic cars, as well as military history. Tim was never one to just sit idle, and was always finding something to keep him active. One of which was becoming the building manager for his apartments starting in 1997, and continuing to this day.
With such a “colorful” personality, it was easy for Tim to leave people charmed and smiling. His heart was just as big, and he was generous, especially when it came to giving to veteran and Native American charities. He was a lifelong blood donor too, which undoubtedly helped too numerous to count. His legacy of love and dedication leaves his family and friends with wonderful memories and a strong foundation to look to for comfort.
Timothy Alois "Mo" Mokelke died unexpectedly in Butler, WI on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at the age of 72. Dearest father of Ryan (Laura) Mokelke, younger brother of Patricia (Dr. William) Martens, preceded in death by his parents, Alois and Dorothy (nee Jenkins) Mokelke. Also survived by nieces, nephews, and countless friends. Tim's U.S. Army military service was spent in Europe. He returned home in 1963 and decided to take an apprenticeship in the Milwaukee Journal press room from where he retired in 2003, 39 years to the day he started.
Family and friends will gather to celebrate Tim’s life on Thursday, April 10, 2014, at the Funeral Home from 5:00 p.m. until the time of sharing memories at 7:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to a veterans' charity or charity of your choice appreciated. Suminski Life Story Funeral Homes, Niemann/Suminski, 2486 S. Kinnickinnic Ave, (414) 744-5156. www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com