Katherine E. (Brownlee) Zinkle

December 17, 2020



Katherine E. "Katie" Zinkle, age 86 of Wauzeka, passed away on Thursday December 17, 2020 at her home in Wauzeka in the comfort of her family.  She was born May 26, 1934 in Haney Valley, Crawford County Wisconsin.  She was the daughter of Eugene and Marjorie (Ward) Brownlee. She married Aloysius "A.P." Zinkle on July 12, 1952 at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Boscobel.  He preceded her in death on June 23, 2019. She is survived by her children, Aloysius P. "Butch"  (Sheila) Zinkle Jr. of Wauzeka, Thomas Zinkle of Wauzeka, Sandra (Mike) Dickman of Wauzeka, Steven (Teresa) Zinkle of Knoxville Tenn., Rebecca (Mark) Mayew of Macon Mo., Debra Arnold of Wauzeka, Thomas Zinkle Jr. of Wauzeka, Natosha Zinkle & Joe McCullick both of Seneca, Ryan (Christy) Zinkle of Mount Horeb. 16 Grandchildren, 29 Great-Grandchildren. Four sister in laws, Sue Zinkle of Steuben, Jeanne Neis of Plano Tx. Kathy Zinkle of Washington State, Diane Brownlee of Gays Mills, a special neighbor, Bonnie Schwarz of Wauzeka, several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, and five brothers, Jim, Lee, Chuck, Paul and George Brownlee.

     Katie’s life journey was filled with exciting opportunities, difficult challenges, an interesting history and lots of love. She was born at her home. Walking to the one room school house involved encounters with a mean dog, a snorting bull, “darn” boys and all kinds of weather. During her middle years her family moved to Woodman where she babysat and cleaned house for a few neighbors. Other responsibilities included tending younger brothers while doing household chores, like keeping the wood box full, gardening, among other tasks. While in high school she worked at the J.C. Penney’s Dept. store in Boscobel.

     Katie met the love of her life at a dance in Steuben. When she first saw him, from across the room, she told her friend “that’s the man I’m going to marry”, and she did. A long distance courtship through the mail ensued. She graduated and turned 18 in May, got married July 12th and set off for a very different wedded life in Jacksonville, Florida, where her new husband was stationed in the Navy. Her prior experience, and a high school diploma, landed her a job at a large J.C. Penney’s store, where she was made a department head over longtime local employees. Adjusting to life in the deep south during “Jim Crow” days was a shockand confusing, but .  she loved the weather, beach, and friends that they made. Expecting her first child, Katie had to learn how to drive, as she had to drive back to Wisconsin alone. Her husband’s Navy ship was going on a tour of duty and would be reassigned to a different base in Virginia when he returned. Her son was born in Virginia. Using the money saved in a coffee can (post depression era resulted in a lack of trust in banks), a down payment was made on a 100 acre farm in Boydtown, (Wauzeka) Wisconsin, where she would reside with her husband for over 60 years.

     Katie believes in lifelong learning. After having  6 children, she entered the Vernon County Teacher College in Viroqua, where she earned a lifetime teaching degree. Over time she advanced her training to obtain her Master’s degree with an emphasis in Science. Her teaching career started at St. John’s Catholic School in Prairie du Chien from 1969-1973. She then worked as a teacher and Principal at Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Boscobel for 4 years. She finished her career as an educator at Wauzeka-Steuben Schools teaching Kindergarten and then 4th grade until retirement in 1998.

    With endless energy, a strong work ethic, commitment to home, family, and community, Katie contributed to making life better for others. She taught Catechism, was a Girl Scout Leader, was the Treasurer for the Youth Bowling League, a Member of the Boydtown Cemetary Committee, researched Geneology, was a DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) member Bowled Couples and on the Women’s Bowling League, and supported many Charities.

     She learned to cook, bake, can, freeze and preserve food from gathered fruit, vegetables, nuts and farm fresh produce. Her sewing skills included making children’s pants from the material from the back of her husbands worn out jeans, and creating doll clothing from scraps of material. After taking a cake decorating course, Katie made beautiful and unusual cakes for every occasion. Her handiwork was something to be admired, from knit sweaters, scarfs, slippers, doll clothes…, to crocheted blankets, embroidered towels and pillow cases and elaborate plastic canvas decor. She dabbled in arts and crafts painting ceramics, making Cabbage Patch dolls,  stamp and embossing cards.

     She believed in the value of books, enjoyed puzzles, and loved children. Many people remember her passion to collect Beanie Babies. Much time was spent pursuing special coins and stamps also. On an anniversary, McDonald’s was a preferred destination for the perfect meal. She loved to travel seeing most of America and several international destinations. The sail fish mounted on the wall spoke volumes about a fishing experience. It was baffling when she went scuba diving, even though she was afraid of deep water, because she never learned how to swim.

     Katie will be greatly missed. She was an amazing wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, friend and community member. A granddaughter recently said she was the glue for the family and it will never be the same without her.


 Due to Covid-19 and restrictions a Private Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday December 22, 2020 at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Boscobel. Monsignor Roger Scheckel and Father Christopher Padilla co-celebrants. Those in attendance please wear masks, and practice  social distancing  Burial will be in the Boydtown Cemetery rural Wauzeka. Those wishing to send cards or memorials please send them to Deb Arnold at 46808 Mills Street Wauzeka Wisconsin 53826.  Online condolences can be sent to




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Private Mass

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
405 E. LeGrand Street
Boscobel, Wisconsin 53805

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