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“Kay” Katherine Ellen Saether, age 84 of Blanchardville & Juneau died on Wednesday evening, June 17, 2020 at the Upland Hills Nursing and Rehab Center in Dodgeville. Kay was born on April 29, 1936 in Chicago to Arthur & Katherine (Meyer) Droegemueller. Kay grew up in Winnetka, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) where she graduated from New Trier High School in 1954. She attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville for two years and then transferred to Michigan State University in East Lansing where she earned a degree in education in 1958.
Kay’s first teaching job was 2nd grade in Fox Point, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she taught for two years. During her first year of teaching, Kay met Tom Saether who was attending mortuary college. They were married on July 16, 1960. That fall Kay started teaching 1st grade in Blanchardville. She taught for 3 years, and then took one year off when their first child, Heidi, was born. She went back to the Blanchardville Grade School to teach kindergarten for 8 years. In 1972 Kay left teaching to join Tom and his parents in the family furniture store and funeral home business. After some time, she realized that the future was not good for small town furniture stores. She decided that the furniture business territory, and the merchandise variety needed to be expanded. Kay loved interior design, and eventually took classes and became a certified and licensed interior designer.
Kay and Tom worked very hard through the remaining years of their career in home furnishings building a reputation and the business. Saether Furniture became Saether Furniture and Interior Design Studio. They changed the scope of the furniture store from a store serving the local community to one serving a 100 mile radius, mostly in Madison, but occasionally out of state and northern Wisconsin for a few special customers. In the 1980’s the Madison area Parade of Homes became one of the main building blocks of the new direction of their business. Kay and Tom decorated homes for many years in the Parade with the help of their family and staff, to a point where the show house looked lived in. Kay was in these homes herself handing out brochures and meeting the public and potential design clients during show hours. In 1986 Kay and Tom renovated a new home to live in the upper floors of the funeral home in Blanchardville. This served as a showplace for prospective clients to envision what Kay could do for them.
In 1996 Kay and Tom bought property in rural Juneau near Hustisford on Lake Sinnissippi, and eventually decided to build a new home on the property to enjoy in their retirement and as a retreat for the family. In 1998 the decision was made to close the furniture store and for Kay to retire. They enjoyed their lake home together until the time of Tom’s death in 2007. Kay continued living at the lake until recently when health issues prompted her to move back to Blanchardville to be near family. She became seriously ill this April, resulting in her final stay at the Upland Hills Nursing and Rehab Center, where she and Tom both stayed for rehab over the years, and where they always received excellent care.
Kay is survived by her two children, Heidi (Mike) Ewell of River Forest, Illinois, and Paul (Julie) Saether of Blanchardville; five grandchildren, Zachary, Alex and Grace Ewell and Sarah and Jeff Saether; and two nieces and a nephew. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Tom, and her sister Joan Wilke.
In these days of COVID-19, if you don’t wish to travel, or if you have special memories of Kay, please consider leaving the family a short video with a notebook computer or a smart phone by going to the following link:
A visitation observing social distancing with wearing of masks requested will be held on Monday evening, June 22nd from 4:00 until 7:00 PM at Blanchard Hall in Blanchardville. Due to COVID-19 a private family funeral service will be held at 10:00 am Tuesday, June 23, 2020 followed by burial in the Graceland Cemetery. You are invited to watch the service live streamed at:
Rev. Carol Baumgartner of New Hope Lutheran will officiate. Saether Funeral Service of Blanchardville is assisting the family.