In Memory

Marlene Hermes (Schiestle)

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06/29/21 12:13 PM #1    

John McNamee

Marlene died at the age of 76 on July 22 from complications related to the COVid-19 pandemic. The deafening silence in Jack Schiestle’s Maria Street home was shattered by a phone call around 8:30 the night of July 23. Someone with a youthful voice on the other end asked Schiestle to step out onto his front porch, which is not the safest request to honor these days. But Schies- tle, a longtime Racine baseball coach, was too overcome with sadness to think about his well being. Marlene, his beloved wife of almost ex- actly 50 years, had died at the age of 76 the previous night from complica- tions related to the COVID-19 pandemic at a Kenosha care facility. So much of his life had just been torn away from him and Schiestle was just starting to feel his way through a long journey of uncertainty. Stepping out through the door, Schiestle was greeted by a caravan of 22 cars of mostly teen-aged baseball players. Schiestle had worked with them on practice fields, but had yet to coach them on his Ra- cine Kiwanis team. Their time would come with Coach Jack, just as it has for countless other kids Schiestle has mentored in Racine since Lyndon Johnson was president. Those kids wanted to let Jack know that they were thinking of him during what was cer- tainly the worst day of his life. They circled his block a few times, honked their honors and shouted out words of encour- agement. Literally and figuratively, they cut through the darkness with the headlights of their cars. “I needed that so bad,” the 77-year-old Schiestle said. “Right then, the feeling I had was just mind boggling, that they would do that late at night and cheer the way they did.” With his emotions invigo- rated, Schiestle walked into an empty house that is going to take so much time to learn to emotionally accept. And then he grabbed the metal whistle Marlene had used to summon Jack from the bedroom as her health declined the last few years and blew it twice. That has been his tribute to Marlene every night since he lost her. “It’s just to let her know I’m thinking of her,” Schiestle said. “It’s probably stupid, but she lived with that whistle for a long time and I did not ever want her to get out of bed by herself because I always wor- ried about her taking a tumble. It got real difficult toward the end.” Those memories of strug- gle are blown apart by what happened Aug. 1, 1970, which will be 50 years ago Saturday. A 27-year-old Schiestle was coaching one of his teams at the Jerstad-Agerholm school play- ground on what will always be ETERNAL HONEYMOON Marlene Schiestle was always there for her husband Schiestle

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