Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Local Hero

Via M.R., another local do-gooder, this news arrived at the local coffee house, the coffee house without WIFI, but with a demented, but quite hot owner.

Roscoe and Evelyn Churchill

Roscoe Churchill passed away after 90 years of a full life. He and his wife Evelyn stood strong against the mining companies who intended to mine metallic sulfide ores in Wisconsin (a type of ore that always creates acid mine drainage, which is like adding battery acid to our waters of the state). Over the years they had thousands of people who loved them and followed their lead.

They were like two huge oak trees that sent thousands of acorns scattering to the earth. Those "acorns" have now taken root and the largest, longest lasting, and most sincere "grassroots" environmental movement continues to this day and will long into the future generations. They were truly the "grandparents of the anti-metallic sulfide mining movement in Wisconsin", and now their followers have spread to other states.

Someday, due to their loving diligence mining companies will have to do what they hate to do.....clean up their mess and listen to the local communities.

Over the next week we will be gathering photos and stories of these two wonderful people who worked so hard to protect the earth for the future generations.

In the meantime, here is the obituary for Roscoe Churchill

Roscoe Lee Churchill passed from this life on Friday, February 9, 2007. A loving father, devoted husband and inspired educator, Roscoe retained a clear mind and strong commitment to preserving and protecting the earth until the age of 90.

Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m. Friday, February 16, 2007 at the First Church of Christ, located at 701 Menasha Avenue, Ladysmith. Pastor Donn Schroeder and Pastor Ramon Hunt will officiate. Visitation will be at the Nash-Jackan Funeral Home in Ladysmith, Thursday, February 15, 2007 from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m., with a 10:00 a.m. visitation on Friday prior to the funeral service. In addition, a “Fond Farwell” memorial will be held at the Stefan Pavilion at the Grant Town Shops (South of Ladysmith on Hwy. 27), beginning at 2:00 p.m. (following the burial). There will be songs in celebration of Roscoe’s life, sharing of memories, dedications by Native American Tribal Members and a special Eagle Feather Ceremony.

Roscoe is survived by his brother Edwin (Milwaukee), his five children – Arlene Sellereite (Seattle), Edwin (Augusta, Maine), George (Conrath), Susan (Madison), and Hazel Ann Jerry (Ladysmith), ten grand children, seven great-grand children, his virtual son Kwabena Amoh (Minneapolis), and his special friends, Laura and Greg Furtman (Webster). Roscoe was preceded in death by his beloved wife Evelyn and his grandson, Zachary.

Roscoe was born on June 28, 1916 to George and Arminda Churchill, the 10th of 11 children. He grew up on the farm, and learned early to work hard, and to love nature. He thrived on splitting wood, riding and driving horses, and eating berry pies. His proudest moment was when, as a young man, he was able to purchase a Model A Ford for his parents, with money he earned cutting and selling wood. He completed County Normal (teachers’ training) in 1937 at the age of 21. In the same year he got his first teaching position and married Evelyn Dorothy Haase, the love of his life. He and Evelyn were happily married for nearly 59 years. Roscoe was a member and elder of the First Church of Christ in Ladysmith, and also, in later life, a member of the Congregational Church in Conrath. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge.

Roscoe’s most profound moment of fulfillment was when he was able to buy back the family farm south of Ladysmith, which was pioneered by his parents in 1900, and lost during the Depression. With his family, he enjoyed operating the farm while pursuing his career as an educator. He raised beef and dairy cattle, took great pleasure in working with his horses, often driving his favorite mare, April, in local parades. Roscoe enjoyed listening to and singing music from the Big Band era, liked to play the harmonica, and took pleasure in playing the ukulele to waken his kids before chores in the morning.

Other favorite activities included making maple syrup and playing cribbage with his friend Bob Bricco, writing poetry and refining his skill at darning socks.

During his teaching career, which spanned over thirty years, Roscoe continued his education, and was the first in his family to obtain a Masters Degree. He took great pride and pleasure in nurturing an appreciation of nature in his students. Through the “Trees for Tomorrow” program, he introduced many youngsters to the wonder of Wisconsin’s forests and woodlands, and to the importance of caring for our natural world.

In partnership with Evelyn, Roscoe worked tirelessly to protect Wisconsin’s environment. They drafted and promoted important legislation to protect Wisconsin’s waters, including the Flambeau River, from the impacts of mining. Further, Roscoe and Evelyn provided guidance, support and inspiration to countless others across the state and nation who shared their desire to preserve the environment. Roscoe and Evelyn received numerous awards and recognition for their dedicated service and environmental leadership.

Roscoe loved spending time outdoors, planting crops, caring for his animals, and occasionally hunting for deer. At age 86, he bagged a prize buck, which he mounted on his living room wall. Thirty-five years ago Roscoe and his family planted thousands of pine, spruce and balsam trees on the “back forty” of the farm. Today those trees stand tall, providing habitat to deer, bear, owls and other wildlife - a living legacy to a man who lived his life according to his ideals. Roscoe will be long remembered – a leader, visionary and inspiration to us all.

Those who wish to express sympathy may consider a donation to:

* Northwest Wisconsin Homecare (Hospice)
* The Evelyn Churchill Memorial Environmental Scholarship Fund

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