Florence T. Heckrodt passed away peacefully at the age of 94, with loving family at her side on September 16, 2022. Formerly a resident of Delray Beach, Florida and Appleton, Wisconsin, Florence had relocated to Cumming, Georgia in 2019 to be with family after the passing of her beloved husband of over 40 years, Frank H. Heckrodt.
Florence was born in Kaukauna, Wisconsin on February 16, 1928, to the late Richard and Margaret (Brennan) Golden. She grew up on a dairy farm in Hollandtown, Wisconsin and after graduating from Kaukauna High School continued her education with advertising and marketing courses at the University of Wisconsin and the American Management Association.
In 1957 she went to work as the Advertising Manager for Elm Tree Baking Co, in Appleton, where she was responsible for building both of their advertising and promotions departments. In 1961, with seemingly endless energy and drive, this full-time advertising executive and mother of five decided to enter and compete in the Mrs. Wisconsin pageant. Competing in Milwaukee with a field of over 250 other contestants from around the state, she won the title of Mrs. Wisconsin 1961. From there she went on to compete in the Mrs. America contest in Fort Lauderdale, where she placed as one of the top finalists. As Mrs. Wisconsin, and as one local paper reported “she charmed the state” as she fulfilled her duties. She worked at Elm Tree Bakery as Director of Advertising until 1969, when it was purchased by Rich’s Products of Buffalo, New York. Florence then went on to hold Advertising and Marketing positions with the University Bank of Green Bay and Presto Products of Appleton until her retirement.
In retirement, Florence and Frank combined their talents to quietly advance many local organizations including; The Heckrodt Wetlands Reserve of Menasha, Wisconsin, The Boy Scouts of America, The St. Joseph’s Food Panty and many others. Together they loved traveling, particularly visiting their combined families of seven children. Retirement also allowed Florence to return to her many interests as an avid golfer, reader, decorator and an amazing cook! She also became a devoted Badger and Packer fan through Frank. But, of all of her accomplishments, she would most want to be remembered for being the kind, loving, caring and generous; wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother who was a role model for her family and many others.
Florence is survived by her five children: Sheryl (Frank) Hills of Cumming, Georgia; Tom (Mary) Sommers of Appleton; Jean (Steve) Harmon of Canton, Georgia; Rebecca (Burleigh) Arnold of Los Angeles, California; Sue Sommers of Avon, Colorado; and grandchildren: Ryan (Lori) Sommers, Eric Sommers, Forrest (Amelia) Harmon, Blake (Jennifer) Harmon, Ashley Arnold; and 5 great-grandchildren; Kate, Frank, Matthew, Jacob and Forrest Jr. Her step-children are: Curt (Jennifer) Heckrodt of Niwot, Colorado; Carla Heckrodt of Portland, Oregon. Grandchildren; Mera Heckrodt and Bryce Heckrodt-Hallenbeck. Florence also leaves behind a sister: Margie (Tom) Kussow of Wrightstown.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Frank Heckrodt, a grandson Cody Heckrodt-Hallenbeck, a brother William Coffee, and brother-in-law, Donald Gerhartz Sr. as well as sisters: Marie Gerhartz and sister Mary Golden, and brother-in-law and sisters-in-laws: William Heckrodt, Charlotte Galloway, Sarah Heckrodt and Elizabeth Larson
A memorial service will take place at the Wichmann Funeral Home, located at 537 N. Superior Street in Appleton on Saturday October 8, 2022, at 11:00 AM with Rev. Dr. Susan Cartmell of the First Congregational church of Appleton officiating. Visitation will be held from 9:00 AM until the time of service.
Our family wishes to extend our deepest appreciation to the Agape hospice staff of Cumming, Georgia for the wonderful care and compassion shown to Florence and her family. Additionally, our family is extremely appreciative of the loving care and concern given by daughters Jean Harmon, Sheryl Hills and their husbands over the years, with special thanks to Sheryl for her boundless attention to our mother, making her final years as wonderful as one could imagine! In lieu of flowers, donations to St. Joseph’s Food Program Inc. or the American Red Cross would be most appreciated.