Audrey Ann Nolan (Kell) departed on September 25, 2020, at home, surrounded by the immense love of her family. She was born on January 26, 1932, in Wausau, Wisconsin. Her parents, Elmer and Mildred Kell, owned the Marathon Store. Audrey recounted memories of her father pouring beer from the tap, retrieving blocks of ice from the icehouse, and keeping his neighbors fed during the Great Depression by providing them with free groceries and supplies. She also remarked that her fear of mice came from the grain bags at the store where they ran up her leg as a child. When asked about her favorite memory, Audrey said it was time spent with her father with whom she shared a birthday. Audrey graduated from Wausau East High School and was completing a degree in cosmetology when she met the love of her life, James ‘Jim’ Nolan.
Audrey and Jim were married on April 19, 1951. The two settled in Marion, Wisconsin, and began their life and legacy together. Jim established his livestock and real estate business, in which she was licensed as a real estate broker. Audrey’s focus though was not on his business; but rather on the family they created, which was the absolute highlight of her entire life. After their marriage, she had six children, 11 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren . She was the matriarch of a family of 34 and she loved each and every one very deeply. Her nickname from the grandchildren was “Ma,” with Jim even following suit and adopting the moniker.
Audrey was cultured and worldly. She loved to travel and visited six continents. She traveled with Jim, her children, grandchildren, and even her great-granddaughter. From the remote wilderness of Wyoming to the streets of Moscow to a beach in the Caribbean, Audrey had an adventurous spirit and always wanted new experiences. Some of her most treasured trips were the mother-daughter trips.
She was community oriented. She devoted much time to volunteer projects such as Meals on Wheels, Boy Scouts of America, and St. Mary’s Catholic Church where she started a church library.
Audrey was a fierce bridge player. She was part of a bridge club for half a century and treasured the friendship she found in "the bridgers”. This brought her so much joy and gave her a lot to look forward to. She felt that bridge kept her mind sharp, and it did.
Audrey was a non-judgemental person; she accepted all people and their diversity. Although she always had her own opinion, she was a great listener and gave wise advice. Thousands of hours were spent on the phone with her or conversing in her living room. Whenever anyone in the family had a problem, they would call “Ma” and she would talk them through it.
The most remarkable attribute about Audrey was the phenomenal grandmother she was. The traditions, financial and emotional support, and memories are countless. She always had unlimited energy, hours of quality time, and appreciation for her family. Even during her last hours on earth she did not want to miss a minute with her loved ones. She carried enthusiasm and zeal to grand motherhood for over 40 years. And she was blessed to be able to touch the lives of her great-grandchildren.
Audrey was preceded in death by her beloved husband, James Nolan, her mother and father, Elmer and Mildred Kell, and her brother, Joseph Kell. She is survived by her six children, Tim (Debra) Nolan, Kathleen Nolan (Ralph Foerster), Tom ‘T.J.’ (Sandra) Nolan, Constant Nolan, Gerald ‘Sonny’(Kari) Nolan, Jane (Richard) Siebert, 11 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
A mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marion on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. Visitation will be from 8-11 a.m. at the church with mass and then her burial. Friends and family are invited to a luncheon following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the family to be allocated to charitable causes important to Audrey.
The pain of her absence is profound, but her legacy will continue to live on.
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