Dorothy Fletcher

Dorothy E. Fletcher was a special education teacher in the Port Washington-Saukville School District for 26 years, looking for ways to “turn the key” and unlock the minds of her students.

“That’s one of the exciting things, when children who have trouble learning do learn something,” Mrs. Fletcher told Ozaukee Press in 1990, when she retired from teaching. “One of the boys is now ready to graduate, when he came in he talked in little grunts. Now his speech is so appropriate and so smooth flowing.”

She earned a degree in exceptional education for the deaf from the State Teachers College, now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“It seemed so interesting and you could help people,” she said.

Her first teaching experience was with deaf students in Detroit, but after she married and had her first child, she suspended her teaching career.

When her children were older, she returned to the classroom.

“I thought I was happy doing what I was doing, being a mother, volunteering. But when I went back to school (to get certification in special education), I found I came alive. It was very stimulating and I have loved my work.”

By the time Mrs. Fletcher retired from teaching, she had earned a master’s degree plus 30 credits — just shy of a doctorate.

Mrs. Fletcher found many lifelong friends among the staff. A group of her teacher friends gathered this summer at Ellen’s Home to share memories of their school days and life adventures together.

Mrs. Fletcher, 95, died Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Ellen’s Home Assisted Living Facility in Port Washington. She had suffered from a series of health complications that developed after she broke her hip in January 2018.

Mrs. Fletcher was born in Marshfield on May 17, 1924, the firstborn daughter of the Rev. Emil and Emma Eskelson Eske.

 She grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from Washington High School.

On July 20, 1946, she married Elmer Aalto at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. After his ordination in 1951, he served Lutheran parishes in Loyal, Greendale, Rome, Richland Center, Grafton and Random Lake. During that time, Mrs. Fletcher had all the responsibilities that go with the unpaid position of pastor’s wife.

Her husband died on Aug. 17, 1972.

Mrs. Fletcher lived in Grafton from the time she married William Gruetzmacher in 1976 until his death in 1985.

She married Barry Fletcher in 1990 and the couple moved to Santa Rosa, Calif. They returned to Port Washington in 2003. Mr. Fletcher died in 2012.

Despite the fact she outlived three husbands and one child, Mrs. Fletcher remained a source of boundless faith and optimism. With a twinkle in her eyes, her frequent words of parting were, “Divine order on us all.”

Mrs. Fletcher was a member of the Ozaukee County Retired Teachers and Unity Church Sheboygan. She loved to travel, had a keen interest in politics and was an avid reader, looking forward to her weekly delivery of Ozaukee Press. She had been the editor of her high school newspaper and loved to check out the stories, but first she would turn to the editorial. And she kept a dictionary nearby for words that stretched her vocabulary.

In recent years, Mrs. Fletcher relied on television to keep her up to date, staying tuned to MSNBC all day unless the Lawrence Welk Show or the Green Bay Packers were on.
    “Mother trusted in the basic goodness of humans and treated everyone with politeness, even telemarketers who pestered her,” her daughter Christine Jaeger said. “We’d laugh about our stubbornness, and she reframed that as perseverance.

“She taught me about independence and always reinventing oneself. When she was in her eighties, she and I went to the same yoga classes.

Her granddaughter Karen Krause said, “My grandmother taught me to be a strong woman. She taught me being independent is important. She showed me how to get back up after being knocked down.

“The greatest gift she taught me was to love without condition.”

Mrs. Fletcher also loved tending her roses and reading nonfiction books that stretched her horizons, her family said.

Mrs. Fletcher is survived by her daughters Christine (Mark) Jaeger of Oostburg, Ruth (Edward) Mixdorf of the Town of Grafton and Jane (Ken) Yoho of the Town of Saukville; grandchildren Stacy (Peter) Becker, Gregg (Jane Sloss) Mixdorf, Karen (Kevin) Krause, Patrick Mixdorf, Erich (Laura) Smith, Rachael (Alex) Fowler, Ryan (Amanda) Yoho and Amanda (Brad) Williams; 12 great-grandchildren; and close family friend Lou Balch.

In addition to her husbands, she was preceded in death by her daughter Susan and sisters Bernice Langholz and Nadine Mong.

A memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at Eernisse Funeral Home, Port Washington

Visitation will be at the funeral home from 1:30 p.m. until the service.

Inurnment will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, at St. Paul Cemetery in Random Lake.

Memorials to Special Olympics of Wisconsin or Unity Church Sheboygan where Mrs. Fletcher was a longtime member, are suggested.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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