Catherine Grace Burke of Otter Creek, lost one of the only losing arguments of her life on Monday, December 14. She succumbed to a battle with cancer and died in her home surrounded by family. Left without her wit and drive are her husband of 47 years Stephen Scoll, children, Krome (Julie), Medora (Ed), and Max (Nikki), a heap of grandchildren- Silas, Leona, Zelda, Henrietta, Miriam, and Miles, her siblings Dave, John, Kevin, Jane and MANY nieces and nephews.
Catherine moved to Otter Creek township in 1979, and planted herself and her growing family with a determination that withstood any headwinds she faced. She was proud to live at the end of the longest dirt driveway in Dunn County with the garden Steve built that you can see from space. She took a job teaching in the Bloomer school district, where she was a fixture for three generations. Her drive to meet her students’ needs and provide their families with opportunities was one of the defining traits of her generous character. The wild ones and troublemakers were some of her favorites. For her, teaching was an act of puzzle solving. Searching for the “A HA” moment in each of her student’s path to understanding.
Catherine was a lover of lists, and of making things happen. Steve will spend his remaining years finishing some of those honey dos. She helped her three kids through 4-H, FFA, and countless Colfax and Dunn county fairs. She loved selling brats with the FFA Alumni and playing the wicked witch at the 22er’s 4-H haunted house. She was the person you might find on your front stoop with baked stuff, a Christmas carol, or your errant teenager, sometimes all three at once.
Catherine enjoyed travel and adventure, but relished returning to her circle of friends, her teaching, her family, and wood heat she could back up to on cold afternoons after a trek through the woods. These sustained her and kept life almost full enough. She filled the rest by canning pretty much every fruit or vegetable she ever encountered. In retirement you could find Catherine livening up a quilting or book club gathering, or kayaking the Red Cedar River with a glass of wine and a plate of snacks. She had an unquenchable zeal and a restless spirit for movement.
The sudden and unpleasant reality of her cancer made it challenging for her to live independently. The outpouring of community support in the wake of her passing has been phenomenal. We miss her terribly and are thankful to have been part of the life she lived.
There will be a picnic gathering at 22 Mile Ford Park at some point during the summer, after it’s safe to come together to celebrate life, eat, drink, and say nice things about her and each other.
A scholarship fund for students from Bloomer has been set up in her name. Donations can be made to the Community Foundation of Chippewa County. To donate please go to www.yourlegacyforever.org/donate and designate the Bloomer School District Scholarship Pass-through Funds. Be sure to note that it is in memory of Catherine Burke. If you prefer to send a check, the address is Community Foundation of Chippewa County, PO Box 153, Chippewa Falls, Wis. 54729.