Cloette Belle Wronski died September 27, 2020. Survived by children Craig (Pat Holderbecker), Bradley (Jo Seton), Tina Grinager (Greg), and Hugh (Laurie) of Red Wing; Kendrick and Marynia (Helen LaFave) of Minneapolis; Todd (Karen) of Carlisle, PA; Reid (Liz) of Minong, WI; sister-in-law Betty Berlin, as well as 11 grandchildren, 3 step-grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren and 3 step-great-grandchildren. Preceded in death by husband Richard, brothers Elmer "Bud", and Carl, sister Annette Biorn, sister-in-law and lifelong friend Shirley Berlin, brothers-in law Bob Biorn and Bill Wronski, and sister-in-law Elaine Wronski.
Born July 24, 1923 in Red Wing, MN to Elmer and Lizette (Kennebeck) Berlin, Cloette started at St. Joseph's Catholic Grade School in 1929, one month before the October stock market crash. She graduated from Red Wing Central High School in 1941. She was one of approximately 20 women in the 1942 graduating class of the Red Wing Teacher Training Department. Following her initial training, she earned a year of college credit by teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Belvidere Mills. Cloette then attended Winona Teachers College, graduating in 1945.
After graduation, Cloette dreamt of teaching in Alaska. Her plans changed when her father died three months before her graduation. With brother Bud serving in the Army and headed to Iwo Jima, and two younger siblings still living at home, Cloette returned to Red Wing to get a job and help her mother. Unable to teach in Red Wing schools due to a rule that prohibited Red Wing graduates from teaching in the district, Cloette took a job at Northwestern Bell Telephone Company, where she worked as an operator from 1945-1950.
In 1949, Cloette married Richard Wronski. In 1950, the couple welcomed the first of eight children. As a mother, Cloette sewed her children's clothes, instilled a love of baking, encouraged individuality and helped her children develop both roots and wings.
When Richard died in 1979, Cloette went to work at Goodhue County's Developmental Activity Center, a post she held until she retired in 1985.
Among Cloette's volunteer roles were Girl Scout troop leader, religion catechism teacher, St. Joseph's parish council board member, eucharistic minister– for the homebound, Befriender, food-shelf volunteer, Red Wing correctional facility volunteer, and member of Red Wing Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians.
Cloette was an early morning fixture at the Red Wing YMCA where she swam laps into her 90s. Cloette also loved biking, walking, picnicking and dancing —even taking top honors in Red Wing High's prom prize waltz in 1941. She was a faithful attendee at weekday and weekend mass until COVID 19 precautions put a hold on that habit.
In addition to her family and church, one of Clo's most cherished connections during the past three-plus decades has been her affiliation with her prayer group. The informal, close knit network of women meet weekly, offering one another support and friendship.
Cloette was a life-long learner, an avid reader and devout Minnesota Public Radio listener. A thoughtful woman of principle, Cloette led through example. In 2012, during Minnesota’s gay marriage amendment debate, Cloette was featured by Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin. Then age 89, Clo spoke publicly – as a life-long Catholic and mother of gay children – about her opposition to the proposed amendment.
Asked at age 91 what the best part of her life had been, she said, "Right now. You can see the whole purpose of your life. You've worked and worked – and you hoped you were doing a good job. Then you look around and see that you probably have. It's a blessing."
December 26, 2019, Clo decided that she needed additional assistance as she aged. In early January, before the Three Kings’ Journey is celebrated on the Epiphany, she left the house she had made into a home for the past 62 years. Since then, she has benefited from the personal and attentive care of staff at Valentines Assisted Living and Mayo Hospice Services.
The day before she let go and the day all of her children and other family were traveling to gather two by two at her bedside and outside her window, Clo said, “It couldn’t be better… What a glorious day. I feel so blessed.”
A Mass of Resurrection will be 11 a.m., Friday, October 2, 2020 at the Church of St. Joseph with Father Thomas M. Kommers and Father Thomas Walker presiding. A visitation will be one hour prior to the service at church. Masks are expected and will be available at church if you do not have your own. Burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.mahnfamilyfuneralhome.com
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