Cover photo for Rudy Schleif's Obituary
Rudy Schleif Profile Photo
1928 Rudy 2016

Rudy Schleif

June 15, 1928 — August 28, 2016

Rudy and Emily Schleif were united with their heavenly father as a result of a car accident Sunday, August 28, 2016. Rudy, or Butch as some folks called him, was born Rudolph Wilhelm Schleif on June 15, 1928 to August and Margaret Schleif, in the Town of Pine River, Lincoln County. He spent the majority of his life farming (dairy and hogs) or in farm-related work including selling and repairing silo unloaders and doing custom chopping with his brother, Ted. In addition to farming, he worked as a self-employed electrician and was the electrician for the Lincoln County Fair. During his retirement years, he enjoyed driving the tractor for his son Bruce's landscaping business.

Rudy was an avid reader – if a book or magazine was not in his hands, there was always one nearby. He had a deep appreciation for the beauty of God's earth and took great joy in visiting state and national parks, Alaska, waterfalls and any beautiful landscape he could find. He and Emily especially enjoyed their apple orchard and gardens at the farm as well as watching the birds, deer, wild turkeys and bear that came to visit. But most of all, Rudy's greatest joy was music. As a young man, neighbors could hear him singing as he worked in the fields. In his early twenties, he played the accordion and was the lead singer in a polka band called the Dick Richins Orchestra. He was a quiet man by nature, but when he sang, it was as if he was singing for God himself and with everything he otherwise held in reserve. He was a frequent soloist in church and at weddings and funerals. He sang for all of his grandchildren's baptisms and for those who are married, performed the "The Lord's Prayer" at their weddings. In addition, he was a 40+-year member of Barbershoppers, first the Merrill chapter, and currently with the River Valley Harmonizers in Wausau. After many years and many requests by those who had heard him sing, he recorded a CD together with his youngest daughter and two of his granddaughters entitled "Generations of Faith". And a man of great faith he was. He was preceded in death by his parents, August and Margaret Schleif, his brothers, Theodore and Albert Schleif and his brother-in-law, Ray Grell. He is survived by his sisters, Ruth Grell, Weston, Mildred (Stuart) Burrows, Merrill, sister-in-law Lila (Ted) Schleif, Merrill, his cousin and dear friend, Ruben Schley and family, Maribel, WI, several cousins, and many nieces and nephews. Emily Louise Esther (Oelke) Schleif was born December 5, 1928 to Emil and Martha (Seidler) Oelke in the Town of Stettin, Marathon County. Emily was the second youngest in a family of ten children. Like Rudy, she grew up on a farm. But while she did her share of farm work, the passing of her mother when she was ten years old – a passing she mourned her entire life – meant a great deal of domestic work caring for her father and the five brothers that were still living at home. She would later move to Wausau where she worked for Wausau Motor Parts as a welder. She met Rudy at Luther League – an inter-congregational Lutheran youth group. They were married February 6, 1954. After they married, she worked with Rudy on their farm, along with being employed at Merrill Woolen Mills, Semling and Menke and for several years as a Home Health Aide. Both Rudy and Emily performed custodial work at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church for 17 ½ years prior to their retirement. Emily spent many hours volunteering in the kitchen at Our Saviour's cooking for special events and funerals or making pies for the fair food stand or working with the youth to make and sell as a fundraiser. She enjoyed the friends she made and the activities undertaken in the Handy Hannah's Homemakers Club, as the sewing leader for the Pine River Peppers 4-H Club, and the fellowship she shared with the early morning Ripple Rousers swim exercise group. When she wasn't working, she was always busy in her flower and vegetable gardens or crafting. And she never met a craft project she didn't like. She demonstrated and sold Artex paints for many years, enjoyed sewing – especially making quilts for her family -- and later devoted her energies to ceramics. On several occasions, she brought ceramics to the residents at Pine Crest Nursing Home and helped them paint. If she wasn't crafting, she was cooking or baking and was famous for her apple pies/apple squares and lemon meringue pie. For Emily, love was something that was stitched, applied in brush strokes, cooked or baked and was then meant to be shared. She was preceded in death by her parents, Emil and Martha Oelke and all of her brothers and sisters-in-law, Dennis, Martin, Arthur (Velesta), David (Delores), Lawrence (Mae) and Carl (Beatrice) Oelke, her sisters and brothers-in-law, Dorothy (William) Hoff, Gertrude (Edwin) Pyan and Myra (Wilbert) Seehafer, She is survived by many nieces and nephews. Rudy and Emily celebrated 62 years of marriage in February. They were an amazing example of great faith and a testament to the vows that they had taken. They are survived by and will forever live on in the hearts and minds of their children (of whom they were so proud), Yvonne (Bob) Duwe, Wausau, Sherwin (Karen) Schleif, Green Bay, Bruce (Debbie) Schleif, Merrill and Pat (Tom) Hrdlicka, De Pere; their grandchildren, Gina (Mike) Heine, Janesville, Lisa (Ryan) Dwelly, Wausau, Andy (Natalie) Schleif, Stacey, MN, Nicole (Adam) Norder, St. Louis Park, MN, Ben Schleif, Louisville, KY, Dana (Brad) Moore, Chicago, IL, Melissa Hrdlicka, Decorah, IA, Katy Hrdlicka, Minneapolis, MN and Karla Hrdlicka, Marquette, MI; and their great-grandchildren, Macy Heine, Nathaniel, Jacob and Eva Schleif and Scarlett and Elias Moore. Another great-grandchild is expected in February for the Heine family. They will be met in heaven by their great-granddaughter Addison Heine. The family wishes to thank the first responders, the staff at Wausau Aspirus Hospital and Chaplain Jeff Martinson. Visitation will be held at Waid Funeral Home, Merrill, Thursday, September 1st from 4-8 p.m., and at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, Merrill, Friday, September 2nd from 9-10 a.m., with service for Christian burial following at 10 a.m. Rev. Phil Schneider will officiate. Interment will take place following the service at St. James Lutheran Cemetery, Pine River. Please designate memorials to Our Saviour's Lutheran Church. Waid Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be made at

Previous Events

Thursday, September 1, 2016
4:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Waid Funeral Home

301 Eagle Drive
Merrill, WI 54452

Friday, September 2, 2016
10:00 AM
Our Saviour's Lutheran Church

Merrill, WI 54452

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