Faith Lutheran Church was featured in a piece on Channel 3 (local CBS) recently. See the piece on Channel 3 website here. You can also read the text below.
COLUMBUS, Wis. – It’s tough to let old keepsakes go, but it’s made easier when it’s a gift that can help families start to heal.Channel 3000
It started as a love story when Caroline and Clarence Strohschein got married in 1948 in Beaver Dam, where they had two sons: Mark and Alan.
“They were married 72 years ago yesterday,” Alan Strohschein said. “They had a good, fruitful, long marriage.”
There was some sacrifice in their lives, too. Strohschein said his father took over the whole family farm at age 16.
“Our mother was born in 1924 and was definitely a member of the Greatest Generation,” he said. “She was a Rosie the Riveter.”
Stohschein describes his mother’s wedding dress as simple, but cherished all the same.
“Several times during her life I think she felt, ‘Well, I don’t have any daughters or granddaughters that could wear this dress,’” he said.
Throughout the years, however, his mother did wear it every now and then, including in 2005 at Faith Lutheran Church in Columbus.
“I surprised her by renting a tux so it would be more meaningful,” Mark Strohschein said. “(In the photo) my mother has a tear in her eye. I probably have a tear in my eye.”
“Mother died in 2015, and wedding dresses sit idly in closets and garment bags,” Alan Strohschein said. “Nobody does dress-up day anymore. Everyone dresses people down with their language. We wanted to dress up people.”
He took an idea his wife saw in a magazine to a group at his church called Faith in Stitches, which makes things for the community, such as masks and winter gear.
“We just try to help out wherever we can,” member Betsy Woodward said.
Woodward said it was a bit intimidating at first, but she and several of her friends managed to repurpose Caroline Strohschein’s 72-year-old wedding dress. They carefully crafted 13 angel dresses, or baby burial outfits, for the nearby Columbus hospital to give to families.
“In our family, we’ve had a situation in the last couple years where a Milwaukee-based hospital had given the mother the angel dress, so I knew how important it was,” Woodward said. “When they have something that was made my loving hands donated by loving people, I think that helps with the grieving process for them.”
“This is something heart-wrenching and heartwarming all at the same time,” said Kristi Line, executive director for the Prairie Ridge Health Foundation, which acts as a liaison between the hospital and community. “It’s not an emotion you can put into words. To have somebody from your community reach out and offer something that meant something to them as a way of helping them through the process, it means a lot to families.”
As wedding dresses are known to do, Alan Stohschein said seeing the dresses “kind of takes your breath away.”
“This was meant to be,” he said.
Much like his parent’s love story, which isn’t ending after all these years, but has been transformed.
“Well, mom’s always watching,” Alan Strohschein said. “Caroline and Clarence are saying thumbs up.”
“I concur, it’s a double thumbs up,” his brother, Mark Strohschein said.