Ruth Ann Elizabeth (Lenz) Sellen, age 81, originally of Lancaster, WI, but lately of Madison, WI, passed away Tuesday afternoon, October 20, 2020, of natural causes following a short illness. Ruth Ann was born on January 2, 1939 in Stitzer, WI. She was the daughter of Donald August and Marie Leona (Funk) Lenz Sr. She married Lothar Otto Schluenz on February 14, 1966 and lived in Butternut, WI. Together they had two children, Elizabeth Ann Schluenz and John William (Sheila Johll) Schluenz.
Ruth Ann was joined in the Northwoods by her brother Donald August Lenz Jr. “Bud” when he returned from Viet Nam. This must have delighted her, as she was very close to Bud. Back home, they farmed and milked cows together on one of her grandparents’ farms, “The 306”, near Stitzer. Ruth Ann was the oldest of 10 children. Next came Donald Jr. (Delores Hilgart), then Mary Ann E. (Clem Grant), Steven Michael, Michael Albert (died Sept 23, 1968 from injuries received in an auto accident), Peter Joseph (Carol Eggers), Patrick Anthony (Joyce Kaddatz), Jacob Paul (Bonny Meirs), Francis Joseph (Sandra Winkers) and Joseph John. Her older siblings often came to hunt, cut wood and visit. While living Up North, Ruth Ann waitressed, sold Avon and worked at the St. Croix fishing pole factory in Park Falls. Lothar passed away in 1969.
Ruth Ann returned to Lancaster where she ran the Highway Café in Potosi for a while before eventually settling into the home, she was so proud of next to her parents on the family farm in Lancaster. There she raised her family in the idyll of a small family farm with Grandpa and The Uncles to stand in as father to her children. She invited her widowed aunt, Rose Elizabeth (Krepfle, Frank) Duve, to live with her to help keep an eye on the children. Later in life she also cared in her home for her grandmother, Elizabeth Ann (Krepfle, Michael) Funk and another aunt, Helen Mary (Krepfle, Ernest) Salvisberg.
Ruth Ann was renowned as good cook, hosting family parties and baking up a storm at Christmastime. She worked her way up from the dairy case at Kroger to the bakery manager at Piggly Wiggly. Later she became a certified nursing assistant and worked for 26 years at Orchard Manor. Close CNA friends included Phyllis Nible, Mary Schweer and Hannah Horsefall.
Ruth Ann married Merle Wesley Sellen from Roseau, MN, at St. Clement Catholic Church on June 24th, 1989. Elizabeth and John stood up for her. The reception at the Castle Rock Inn was one of the couple’s fondest memories. Merle often told the tale of being “kidnapped” by the ladies and taken to Montfort for a drink at Tower Junction. Merle was a true gift from God for her, and the whole family was happy that she found someone to love after her children were raised. Their song was aptly “The Rose”.
After she retired from Orchard Manor, Ruth Ann and Merle ran an adult day care from their home as part of the Lori Knapp Inc Community Care Program. Eventually the couple moved to Stoughton, WI to be closer to Elizabeth. Her son John bought the family home from her and raised his children there. John and his wife Sheila have four children: Becky Mae (joined the angels early on December 3, 2000), Andrew John, Kelly Jo and Cody Alan. Two years ago, Andrew made her a great-grandmother with his daughter Sara Mae. Ruth Ann’s room was covered in photos of Sara. She loved to show them to the staff and her friend Mary.
Merle and Ruth Ann had a wonderful retirement. They traveled to many exciting destinations. They toured Europe so Merle could re-visit the 5 countries he had been in during WW II. They toured the US from Florida to California, Alaska to Hawaii and many times to Nashville to the Opryland Hotel for their beloved country music. Elizabeth liked to say they “followed the polka circuit” chasing their favorite bands and dancing. Most particularly they visited Graceland, as Ruth Ann was a huge Elvis fan. Eventually they moved to Sun Prairie. Merle passed away in 2011, and she deeply missed him.
Five years ago, Ruth Ann moved into Belmont Nursing and Rehabilitation in Madison, WI where she kept her fellow CNA’s on their toes! There are many people there who have the sincere gratitude of her family for the care they gave her. Ruth Ann’s very good friend, Karen Haefner of Sun Prairie, visited her often, went on outings with her and spoke often to her on the phone. Karen made Ruth Ann’s long nursing home days more enjoyable.
A private Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, October 26, 2020, at St. Clement Catholic Church in Lancaster with Father William Vernon officiating. Burial will be in Liberty Ridge Cemetery, Liberty Township. Martin Schwartz Funeral Home & Crematory in Lancaster is assisting the family.