In Memory

LaVerne Kokal - Class Of 1947 VIEW PROFILE

LaVerne Evelyn (Vicky) Kokal died in the arms of her loving family on April 2, 2018.  Vicky was born August 14, 1929 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Joseph and Eleanore Orzelski and was baptized with the name of Victoria – answering the question of how she got the name Vicky.  She was preceded in death by her husband of 61 years; Anthony (Tony) Kokal on April 23, 2012 and she will be welcomed jitterbugging into heaven by Tony her parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sister-in-laws and many friends.

Vicky’s memory will live on forever in the hearts and spirits of her “perfect family” consisting of two boys and two girls. She is survived by her devoted  daughter and son- in-law Wendy and Lowell Franklin (Hobart, WI); loving daughter and son-in-law Nancy and Brian Mineau (Green Bay, WI) her faithful son, Randy Kokal and Amy Tompkins (Fountain Valley, CA)  his son (cherished grandson) William Kokal (Eugene OR); Therese Pekala, Williams mother and friend (Eugene, OR), loving son and daughter –in-law, Brad Kokal and Dr. Amy Fox and cherished grandchildren children Kati, Abby and Michael Kokal (Waukesha, WI.)  She is survived by her only sister Eleanor of Waukesha and her children Gary, Dale, and Cheryl; as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews, family and friends.

As a child, Vicky expressed a curiosity about music to her mother and was introduced to a number of musical instruments by the music teacher at Brown Street Elementary School in Milwaukee. It wasn’t until the violin was presented to her that her search for a way to express herself musically was fulfilled. She went on to master the instrument and earned the position of first chair violinist in her school orchestra. Her passion and love of music stayed with her throughout her life and was passed on to each of her children and grandchildren.

Tony and Vicky's lifelong romance began when they met at a local "sweet shop" at the tender ages of 15 while they were both in high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The "sweet shop gang" friends would meet at the Sweet Shop and have beach parties, where they would mingle, snack, dance and show off their hot cars and hot dates after school. Tony and Vicky maintained these precious friendships throughout their lives having reunions over the years.  After Vicky graduated from Bay View High School in 1947 she began working for several attorneys in the Milwaukee area as a legal secretary. 

Vicky and Tony were married in a candlelight service on September 16, 1950 at Ascension Lutheran Church in Milwaukee by Reverend Hoover T., Grimsby. They waited several years to get married as they wanted to save up enough money to buy their own home first. As they were married, they legally shortened their last name to Kokal, dropping the "j" off the end of Tony’s birth name. 

Shortly after they were married, Tony was called into active military service during the Korean War. He was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Missing Tony, Vicky packed up their car and her puppy Snookie and drove to Missouri to be with him. She passed a civil service test and scoring in the high 90’s landed a coveted position as a Court Reporter to the base commander, Judge Advocate General. There she also became a Notary Public witnessing court martial trials at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In those days, testimony was taken by shorthand and typed up on a manual typewriter later.    Vicky also was an Insurance Agent for Badger Mutual Insurance Company in Milwaukee and the distinction of being the youngest agent they ever employed.

Upon Tony’s honorable discharge from the Army in 1956, Tony and Vicky moved home to Milwaukee and travelled a lot during their first few years of their marriage. Vicky said she had wonderful memories of wading in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. After trips to Mexico, Canada and Alaska, they settled in and began having and raising their family. When they saved up enough money to by their dream home in Wauwatosa, Vicky became very active in the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) in her children’s school. She took a special interest in legislation affecting education and was eventually appointed the 8th District Legislative Chairperson for the Wisconsin PTA. Among her community accomplishments were petitioning to keep the local branch library open,  petitioning to get a playground built in the park near their home and circulating a petition and personally presenting it to the state legislature to return the drinking age back to 21 from age 18.  

She was a Boy Scout Den Mother, a Girl Scout Troop Leader, supporter of her children’s academic, musical, theater and sports activities and a community activist and volunteer. She often entered writing contests submitting winning stories and jingles to the local news paper, Readers Digest and community contests. A crowing event included “lunching” at the White House in Washington DC and bringing home tea cookies for the family. Vicky always made sure her family had quality family time, boating time and summer vacations travelling around the country in the family station wagon. In 1975 the whole family took a special family vacation to Hawaii.  

 Vicky and Tony continued to travel and enjoyed many boating trips, vacations and cruises with friends and trips through the Masonic Lodge and dancing the Jitterbug to big band music. Music was a big part of the family’s life due to Vicky who often orchestrated singing while doing household chores, in the car travelling or around the backyard campfire.  Her final days were filled with favorite songs, hymns and prayers being sung at her bedside hoping to dance again one day!

Tony and Vicky’s large home in Wauwatosa was always filled with extended family gatherings, hosting political events and lots of grand parties. Vicky had an impressive sense of humor embracing laughter, playing tricks on people, enjoying music, nurturing pets as well as many neighborhood friends and children. Vicky lived generously and demonstrated kindness often opening their home to visitors and anyone in need. 

 In 1974 the family moved to Allouez, Wisconsin to follow Tony’s career advancement in Green Bay.  Vicky worked for several years as a legal secretary at Miller, Semnich and Dorshel Law Firm before beginning a career in Real Estate.  In 1994 Vicky survived a very serious bout with bladder cancer but continued to work in Real Estate with the  support of mentors Susan Hammer and Steve Seidl. Vicky survived a second bout of breast cancer in 2004.  She retired from Real Estate in 2005 after working for Dennison Real Estate, Century 21, Coldwell Banker and Shorewest REALTY throughout her career. During her time in real estate, her hard work ethic and generous personality helped develop many clients and lasting friendships.

Vicky was a long time member of Eastern Star in Green Bay, was active in local community theater and continued her education through the University of Wisconsin Green Bay in Learning in Retirement.  She also served many years on the board of Directors for Family Services, the Drug Free Alliance and as a long time member of Eastern Star and DeMolay Mothers club.  In 1996 she was honored as a “Woman of Vision” by her daughter and the YWCA of Green Bay and De Pere.

 For many years, Vicky and Tony were members of the Green Bay Ostomy Support Group serving as coaches to new Ostomates and as Treasurers of the Group. Vicky was also the family historian for her generation gathering and passing on family history in volumes of pages of photos, news clippings and documents.

Vicky had a quick wit and shared lessons with her children through her “Vicky-isms” that will be remembered and passed on for generations; “TTT” (things take time), “good things come to those who work,” “Keep your mouth shut and do your job” were among the finest! 

She had many more ism’s and sayings that she passed along and continued to teach us right up to the very end reminding us to say “yes, instead of yeah” and to always say please and thank you.  The “Vickster” as some of her caregivers nicknamed her was a jokster as well. She loved April Fool’s day and is famous for her cardboard sandwiches, stone soup and putting a rubber band over the sink sprayer so you got a soaker when you turned on the water. We fully expected her to pass on April 1st, so we would never forget her or the day!

   The family would like to give special thanks to friends Karen and Dan Neveau for their lifelong friendship especially after Tony’s passing and to Alice Angermeier and her beloved dogs Cooper and Terry whose visits were enjoyed by Vicky.

Appreciation and gratitude are also expressed to family and friends who kept close in phone calls, newsy cards, visits with dogs and via letters. Finally deep gratitude is expressed to the caregivers and friends at Emerald Bay, Heartland Hospice and so many who have provided loving care to mom over the years. We sincerely appreciate their respectful care and compassion in caring for our Mom and for us too as we walked her home.


Online memories, pictures and expressions of sympathy may be shared with the family at Should friends desire to express their condolences to remember Vicky, a memorial fund has been established in her name.  

Vicky instilled a deep curiosity and interest in education into the lives of her children. Her strong family values, kindness, love of laughter, theater and music and generosity to others were present through the end of her life. We have lost our cherished mother, grandmother,  sister, aunt, teacher and friend but heaven will be rejoicing in their wonderful new addition. “We may not have had everything in life, but we had more love than  we ever needed.”  We will cherish our wonderful memories of you mom and will miss you more than ever!”

There are no final goodbyes for us mom. Wherever you are, you will always be, a part of me!


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