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Bess M. Piehler

January 11, 1926 January 1, 2020
Bess M. Piehler
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Obituary for Bess M. Piehler

Piehler, Bess 

Bess M. Piehler passed away January 1, 2020. She was born January 11, 1926, in Ferguson, MO, to Oscar and Ethel (Austin) Buettner. She was baptized and confirmed at Zion Lutheran Church in Ferguson, MO. 

After high school graduation she attended Miss Hickey’s Business School in St. Louis, and was employed during WWII at the Emerson Electric war plant in St. Louis. After the war she attended Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IN, where she met Walter Piehler, a returning veteran and law student. They were married in Ferguson, MO on February 1, 1947. After her husband graduated from law school they moved to Wausau, WI, where Walt practiced law for 45 years. He preceded her in death on March 8, 2012. 

Bess was an accomplished cook and baker, and in 1952 won a national contest sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens with her recipe for Strawberry Fluff Delight (recipe available upon request). The prize money from the contest was sufficient to serve as a down payment on the house in which she and Walt lived for 27 years and in which they raised their family. 

Bess was also a gifted athlete, and over the years enjoyed curling, tennis and golf. She excelled at golf, winning her flight in the Wausau Country Club’s annual tournament three years in a row, thus retiring the trophy and earning the honor of replacing it with one named after her. She scored two holes-in-one at the Wausau Country Club, on what were then holes 8 and 18. 

Bess and Walt loved to play bridge, and were long time members of a bridge club called the Nomads. 

Bess and Walt were charter members of Christ Lutheran Church in Wausau. After Walt retired they split their time between Wausau in the summer and Scottsdale, AZ in the winter. In her later years she wrote a family history copiously illustrated with family photos that recounted the period from her birth to her marriage, which she titled “The Six Busy B’s” in reference to the members of her family. It chronicles not only the history of her family, but of the country as it went through the Great Depression and WWII. As her memory faded later in life she spent many hours paging through her recorded memories. 

Bess was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, two brothers and one sister. She is survived by three children, David (Polly) Piehler, Karen (Dennis) Piehler-Shaw and Barbara (Brian) Fenhaus; six grandchildren, Stephen (Samantha) and Daniel (Molly) Piehler, Kathleen (Durron) Wilson and Andy Shaw, and Matthew (Kelly) and Amy Fenhaus; and four great-grandchildren. 

The Piehler family would like to express their gratitude and thanks to the entire Primrose Memory Care staff and the St. Croix Hospice staff, especially Megan and Jill, for the loving care given to Bess and for the support that they provided to the family. 

A memorial service will be held at Christ Lutheran Church on February 1, 2020 at 1:00 p.m., with visitation to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Christ Lutheran Church or to Camp Luther, Three Lakes, WI.


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