Elaine (Kennedy) Rattunde, passed from this world on August 27, at the age of 96. She led a life full of love, family, learning, and travel. Ever curious and informed, her passions included nature, listening to public radio, cooking, art, and gardening. She was devoted to her family of four children: Fred (Eva Weltzien) Rattunde, Bill (Maria) Rattunde, Mary Ellen (Tim) Schmit, Karen (Bruce Barton) Rattunde; her niece and nephew: Mary Anne (Larry) Reed and Bob (Sharon) Miller; her seven grandchildren: Leah, Carla, and Erika Rattunde, Colleen and Sophia Schmit, and Dawit and Marta Barton; as well as the many individuals that considered Elaine their second mother.
Elaine married Dr. Henry Frederick Rattunde in 1950. They enjoyed ten blessed years of marriage before Henry succumbed to leukemia, leaving Elaine with three children aged 4 years to 18 months and a child on the way. She raised their children with strength, wisdom and a spirit of adventure, and loved Henry to her dying breath as firmly and tenderly as when they were newlyweds.
Born into the Westport Kennedy clan, descendants of immigrants who came to Wisconsin during the Irish Potato Famine, Elaine was one of the first babies delivered at the new maternity ward at Madison’s St. Mary’s Hospital. The St. Mary’s connection continued throughout her life, as it is where she graduated from nursing school, met her future husband, Henry, who was working there as an orderly during his medical training, and worked as a nurse from when her children were young until her retirement.
While working, raising her four children, and caring for her aging mother, Elaine earned a bachelor's degree in Sociology from Edgewood College and a second nursing degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her love of learning and lust for adventure took her all over the world: travels to Mexico with Henry; family camping trips to Canada and a bicycle tour of Ireland; travels to visit her children in Ecuador, Denmark, Germany, and India; as well as tours with friends from St. Mary’s to Egypt, Australia, and Panama. Elaine’s trusty world atlas was never too far out of reach, tracking either her former travels or those of her children.
Elaine was preceded in death by father, William (‘Coll’) Kennedy; mother, Mary (Corcoran) Kennedy; brother, Raymond (‘Bud’); sister, Eleanor; and the love of her life, Henry.
If Elaine doesn’t make it to heaven, the rest of us can stop trying. In lieu of flowers, consider donations to the League of Women Voters of Dane County, Wisconsin Public Radio, or any progressive cause.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Holy Wisdom Monastery, Middleton, WI, September 11, at 4:00 PM (Masks required during the service).