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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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October 2, 2022

7/8/2022 7:30:00 AM
Elsa Ann Burke

On Friday, July 1, 2022, God welcomed Elsa Ann Burke home. Reuniting her with those that left over her 89 years on this earth including Michael Burke, her husband who had passed in January of 2021. She missed him dearly.

Milwaukee is where Elsa grew up with dad Dr. Cletus Ziegler, mom Elsie and 11 siblings. She shared many stories of their antics and adventures. First husband Thomas Kelling met her while she attended Messmer High School. After living in the Milwaukee area, they moved to the quiet shore of Lake Michigan in Escanaba and then the Rhinelander/Newbold area in 1967. They had 8 children together, raising them to have manners and respect for others.

Like many Irish women, Elsa was small in stature, tough as nails, with a sense of humor and a kind heart. She adored her 7 daughters, 1 son, 3 stepdaughters, and countless grandchildren and great-grandchildren, treating each one equally as her favorite so as not to offend the others. She is lovingly nicknamed The Mama because of this.

Living along the beautiful Wisconsin River with husband Mike, she loved the ducks, deer, bullfrogs, and eagles ... snakes and bears, not so much.

Elsa was known for her cooking and kindness. If you helped her in any way, you were gifted with brownies, zucchini bread or a batch of cookies. She and Mike combined their skills of working together at the Red Steer in Minocqua and started Burke's catering. A proud moment for Elsa was when then Governor Tommy Thompson requested her cooking at an event he was attending.

In her retirement years Elsa became an avid golfer and member of Northwood. She was also an award-winning artist, many of her paintings were displayed at Howard Young. Nothing made her happier than cheering on her grands from the stands!

If you knew Elsa, celebrate her life with a hot cup of black coffee, cheer on her Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers, volunteer at a food pantry and spread kindness to keep her spirit alive.

She will be dearly missed by her children, Kimberly (Tim) Hagen, Kristina (Russ) Ostermann, Katrina Birling, Kathleen (Danny) Lundberg, Karolyn (Curt) Jashinsky, Thomas (Elizabeth) Kelling, Kolleen (James) Holma, Kieran (Shane) Spencer; stepchildren, Margaret (John) Garsow, Maureen (Mike) Ferguson, and Kathleen (Michael) Anderson; 17 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren and by two sisters and one brother. Also surviving are other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, first husband Thomas Kelling, son-in-law Mark Birling, husband Michael Burke and by seven siblings.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be held today, Friday, July 8, 2022, at noon at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, located at 125 E. King Street, with Fr. Chris Kemp officiating.

Immediately following the mass there will be a procession to Northland Memorial Park for the Committal Service.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Hildebrand Funeral Home & Cremation Specialists, 24 E. Davenport Street, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 54501, 715-365-4343. Everyone is invited to sign the guestbook or leave an online condolence at

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