St. Coletta Mourns the Loss of Oldest Client
Posted On: December 20, 2011


[Jefferson, WISC] Last week, St. Coletta of Wisconsin mourned the loss of Elsie Bucher, who passed away on Thursday, December 8th.


If anyone is a symbol of both the mission and evolution of St. Coletta of Wisconsin, it was Elsie Bucher, who held rich memories of the organization that dates back nearly 90 years.


Elsie began her involvement with St. Coletta in 1923 when she was just four years old. St. Coletta was in it’s 19th year of operation. When Elsie came to St. Coletta, it was common for persons with disabilities to grow up away from their families. Paul Bucher, former Waukesha District Attorney and Elsie’s nephew, did not have the pleasure of meeting Elsie until about eight years ago. 


“In the final years of my father’s life,” Bucher explained, “he told me about someone that he had never mentioned before, a sister (Elsie), and that information changed my life forever.”


Paul subsequently came to St. Coletta of Wisconsin to meet his aunt, Elsie, for the first time. To his surprise, Elsie already knew who he was. She had seen the well-known attorney on television many times before!


Paul became involved with Elsie’s life not only as a family member, but also as her legal guardian, and he was happy to serve as the lifeline between her and her other nephews. He visited her often and was involved with special activities and events in her life.


 “I do not know what our community would do without St. Coletta,” Bucher said. “The organization is a major resource for the disabled community and has been for over a century.”


During her years at St. Coletta, Elsie has lived in a variety of homes and has developed a true taste for how the organization has shifted its service philosophy over the years from large institutional based living to small community integrated homes located throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. In 1923 it cost a little over $360.00 a year to live at St. Coletta. Radio and Telephones were still rare in Jefferson County and Elsie probably did not see an airplane in the sky for several more years. Elsie lived at St. Coletta for almost 88 years and she saw so much change in her life with us.

“St. Coletta has really come full circle in its programming,” said Tony LoDuca, President. “We once led the industry in supporting children through the school program. Now we are working with key partners to develop programs to support them at the other end of the age spectrum.”


When Elsie came to St. Coletta, the life expectancy of a person with disabilities was less than ten years old.   Elsie, at 93 years old, was an example of the emerging trend of people with disabilities having a lifespan that is nearly consistent with that of the general population. 


Elsie had a full life and was involved in a number of activities from gabbing over coffee with friends, to being part of the “sewing club” at St. Martha where it seems that spinning yarns has been more fruitful than sewing in recent years. She had a strong personal faith and worshiped daily with the Eternal Word Television Network.


“It is a pleasure to most to be in the presence of Elsie, who has a remarkable sense of humor and proudly undertakes the duty of teasing and joking with her dedicated staff,” said Jackie Gess who was Elsie’s Residential Coordinator.


Elsie, loved going on trips, socializing, she enjoyed a good party, and having a drink called a “Grasshopper” or two especially with Margaret (her longtime friend who proceeded her in death two years ago). “She was a hard worker, she enjoyed crafts and giving them away, her faith held first place in her life. It was my experience that in all things Elsie found joy. She was the most balanced, whole and joyful person I have ever met. She was holy.” remarks Steve Steele, Director of Mission Effectiveness.


Services were held for Elsie on Thursday, Dec 15th at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Jefferson, WI. Many friends, family, and staff of St. Coletta gathered to celebrate her life by sharing stories and participating in a traditional Catholic Mass. If you would like to honor the memory of Elsie Bucher through donation, please visit the St. Coletta website at or call Lori Miller at #920-674-8308.