Aviator would have celebrated 100 years last month
First of three parts
Elizabeth Ries (nee Lemke), a gracious and grand lady, has lived in the same house at the northwest corner of Silver Spring Drive and Waukesha Avenue for 91 years. She came to the home in 1918 as an orphan, and at 94 years old, she contacted the village historian and author of Retrospect to inform him that her husband Joseph "Joe" Ries, dead for 50 years, would have turned 100 years old on Aug. 26, 2009.
Joe, as he became known, was the son of Helen and Matt Ries, born Aug. 26, 1909, in Pewaukee. Very quickly after his birth, he came to live in the "Four Corners" area of Sussex (Maple and Main). The family consisted of the parents and five children: Elise, Margaret, Joe, Mary and Elroy "Bud." Mary was killed by a drunken driver near the former German Lutheran Church in Sussex. The home that the Ries family lived in was immediately west of the Boots General Store (now Debelak Plumbing).
As young Joe grew up, he attended Sussex Main Street School, graduating from eighth grade in 1923. He immediately extended his stay at the Sussex Main Street School as he took his freshman and sophomore year at Sussex High School in the same building, graduating in 1925.
He was both a scholar and an athlete in school. Some of the luminaries that also graduated in 1925 are Lila Busse Graser (namesake of the Sussex Eastern Star), Joe Clarey (42-year Sussex fireman) and Idabelle Motz Wendt, wife of Ray Wendt (longtime Sussex Main and Maple Avenue school janitor).
Then it was on to Waukesha High School for the final two years of high school, graduating in the class of 1927. At Waukesha High (Waukesha South High School today), Joe was a cheerleader with the big megaphone and the drum major for the high school band.
Once he was out of school, his aptitude for mechanics translated into a job at Waukesha Motors and other local garages. He was mentored by village blacksmith/mechanic Roy Stier.
In Sussex, he partnered with barnstorming aviators Philip Stier, Royal Woodchick and Ralph Hardiman, and in a short time he had his own airplane, flying off the grass fields where Quad/Graphics stands today. He had a three-seater biplane and the ability to fly it with the best, and he knew how to take care of it. He would go to summer events such as picnics and fairs and give paying customers a thrill ride for a few bucks to help him afford his hobby. Meanwhile, he was part of a foursome of the "daring young men of Sussex and their magnificent flying machines" who entertained Sussex and Lisbon residents in the 1920s and '30s with their flying acrobatics in the local skies.
However, Joe was starting to age and he made a statement as he neared his 30th birthday unmarried. According to future wife Elizabeth, he said, "I ain't going to be a bachelor all my life - I am going to get married."
Joe worked parttime at practically all the garages in Sussex such as Universal, Stier's Sussex Garage and the Templeton Herb Haasch Garage, and he looked over the available Sussex girls. He picked out a younger lady, Elizabeth Lemke, who also attended Sussex Main Street School, although six grades below him. They were married on Joe's 30th birthday, Aug. 26, 1939, at St. James Catholic Church.
Just prior to getting married, Joe made the decision that being married was going to be a serious situation, and it was time to give up his highly costly aviation hobby. He sold his biplane to finance his wedding and honeymoon in Manitowish, in northern Wisconsin. Just as they returned to take up housekeeping at Elizabeth's childhood home, they had to attend the funeral of the man who had purchased the biplane from Joe only two weeks before.
Joe Ries: Sussex aviator, sportsman and coach
Second of three parts
Ries sold his three-seater Swallow biplane in 1939 to John Schaap, just before he married Elizabeth Lemke on his 30th birthday. The couple had their wedding at St. James Church, followed by an immediate extended honeymoon in Manitowish in northern Wisconsin. When they returned to Elizabeth's home at the northwest corner of Silver Spring and Waukesha Avenue, they were informed that John Schaap had been killed when he crashed Joe's former plane at a church bazaar. He had been barnstorming at Marytown, near Fond du Lac, but closer to Keil and New Holstein. Joe and Elizabeth went to the funeral, and the tragedy strengthened Joe's resolve to never fly again.
Elizabeth was in the process of acquiring the former Lucy Weaver three-story home (two floors and a spacious attic) from her stepparents Henry and Anna Tutzke. At 94 years old, she has spent 91 years in the historic home.
Joe played on local Sussex sports teams over the years, and was a staunch supporter of the youth programs. He became a member of the Sussex Athletic Club that sought to make it easier to finance and staff local youth sports. Ries was also a devoted bowler with a high average score.
The Sussex Lions Club was formed in 1939, and although Joe was not a charter member, he served in the club until his death in 1959. Ries was instrumental in organizing the annual weekend-long community picnic, dance and local talent show at the Sussex Community Hall and throughout Sussex. This precursor to Lions Daze also involved the Sussex Fire Department and the VFW.
During World War II, he worked for the war effort at Waukesha Motors. Sometime after the war he got into business as a gasoline/mechanic garage proprietor. He rented the Roy Stier Garage which is today the Strobel Sussex Auto Garage. Elizabeth remembers that Joe would also repair kids' bicycles for no charge.
As a side note, Joe's only brother Elroy fought in the army during WWII, going as far as the invasion of Germany and later became a charter member of the Sussex VFW. Joe's father Matt and Elroy served in the Sussex Fire Department, as did Joe. Joe was also involved with local politics with his friend, Stier, as a mentor.
In 1948-49, the Sussex Land O' Rivers basketball team had a horrible season. At the time, the league teams were made up of former high school and college players. However, there was hope that the 1950-51 season would be better with the addition of Jerry Tetzlaff, one of the all-time greats from Menomonee Falls High School and team captain of a conference championship team, and this author, Fred Keller, a two-year starter at Marquette High School that went to the state finals in 1949 and 1950. The team needed a coach, and Ries stepped forward. The other members of the team were Jerry Bennett, Willy Marx, Buck Reimer, George Kraemer and Donny Weber. Jerry Hoffman played 13 of the 31 season games. The team won the conference title, the Hartland tournament, the Sussex tournament and the grand championship playoffs, never losing a Land O' Rivers game and ending with a record of 27 wins and four losses. The local team packed the Sussex Community Hall with 25-cent admission, and carted off nine trophies for the season. Leading the team as coach was a high point of Ries' life, along with the after-game parties and the post-season banquet, all at Bernie Krueger's Tap.
Joe and Elizabeth had three daughters: Jean in 1943, Joanne in 1944 and Cathy in 1950.
Joe came home from his garage on Nov. 4, 1959, and announced to his wife, "I don't feel good. I think I will go to bed." He passed away that evening in their living room. This November, Elizabeth will become a 50-year widow. Joe would have been 100 years old on Aug. 26, 2009.
Elizabeth Ries, 91-year resident of Sussex
Last of three parts
Elizabeth Lemke Ries is 94 years old, and for the last 91 years she has lived in the same house in the Village of Sussex at W232 N6165 Waukesha Ave., (Highway 74), at the northwest corner of Silver Spring Drive and Waukesha Avenue, an old, three-story Victorian house that is known by its first longtime occupant, (Caroline) Lucy Weaver.
Lucy was the ninth of 16 children of the Father of Sussex, James Weaver and his wife Elizabeth Fielder. She was born Nov. 30, 1834, in Oneida County in New York, and came to Lisbon in 1838 as a pioneer child, reared to adulthood near Lisbon's Stoney Park and Halquist Quarry (north).
Lucy never married. She took over as housekeeper for her father when her mother died at age 64 in 1867, living with James in the Weaver house that is now immediately west of the Pauline Haass Public Library. James eventually set her up in the home that Elizabeth Ries would occupy. The exact age of the house is unknown, but it was probably built in the mid 1880s.
Lucy was the second-to-last Weaver child to die when she passed away Nov. 16, 1920. Her brother Alfred S. Weaver, the 12th child and a Civil War veteran, was the only sibling to outlive her. He died Nov. 17, 1924. Four of the 16 children lived to the age of 84-86. Lucy, along with most of the Weaver family, was buried in St. Alban's God's Acre Cemetery.
When James died in 1886, his will left all his household goods to Lucy with two small exceptions. She also inherited enough money to last for her remaining years. The Lucy Weaver home went through one owner before Henry and Anna Tutzke acquired it along with the adjacent land.
Elizabeth Lemke was born April 18, 1915, in Milwaukee, to Catherine and William Lemke. Shortly after, William was killed by a runaway horse, and Anna could not take care of Elizabeth and her sister, Marie. The sisters were shunted here and there until they ended up at their aunt, Anna Tutzke's, home in Sussex in 1918. Henry and Anna became their stepparents while Catherine Lemke worked in Milwaukee and visited her daughters twice a month, taking a train into Waukesha, then the Soo Line Railroad from Waukesha to Templeton.
Elizabeth helped her stepparents with chores such as digging potatoes and picking raspberries for both household consumption and sell to local customers. She attended Sussex Main Street School, and when she was in fifth grade, she noticed a high school sophomore in the same building, Joe Ries. Joe graduated in 1925, and Elizabeth graduated in 1931 before moving on to Waukesha High School graduating in 1933.
After high school she held various jobs, including one at the local canning company. Her future husband, Joe, was a sports enthusiast and owned a Swallow three-seat biplane, which he flew off a local Sussex air field. Once he started dating Elizabeth, he had to decide whether he wanted a wife or a plane, and as he was approaching 30 years old, he decided that 24-year-old Elizabeth was a better catch than barnstorming with his plane. They were married Aug. 26, 1939, at St. James Catholic Church.
A large wedding reception was held at Elizabeth's home, which she continued living in after Anna and Henry Tutzke died. Just before the wedding, Joe sold his biplane, which crashed two weeks later and killed the new owner. Joe and Elizabeth attended the funeral after returning from their honeymoon in Manitowish.
Joe was a mechanic who worked at Waukesha Motors and various local Sussex garages, eventually owning Joe's Pate Service (Sussex Auto today). He belonged to the Sussex Fire Department, the Sussex Lions and the Sussex Athletic Club. Just as the 1950s were closing out, he got an offer to work as a mechanic in Japan and take his family along, but turned it down because he wasn't feeling well. He died Nov. 4, 1959, at age 50.
Elizabeth worked at Marshall Fields for more than 20 years. Soon after her husband died, she was a prominent member of the Sussex Park Board, which opened the new Village Park. She also helped develop a Sussex Teen Club that was successful for many years.
The couple had three daughters: Jean in 1943, Joanne in 1944, and Cathy in 1950. Joanne and her husband Ray Ishe currently live in the Lucy Weaver home with Elizabeth, who is still active at 94 years old. She also has six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Descendants of Matthew P. Ries
Generation No. 1
1. MATTHEW P.1 RIES was born Abt. 1881 in Wisconsin. He married HELEN (NELLIE M.) ? Abt. 1905. She was born Abt. 1886 in Wisconsin.
More About MATTHEW P. RIES:
Occupation 1: 1920, Railroad laborer
Occupation 2: 1905, Farm laborer
Occupation 3: 1930, Mechanic at canning factory
Residence 1: 1920, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Residence 2: 1905, Delafield, Wis - Head of Family: brother Benjamin and cousin John P. age 22 (Wisconsin State Census)
Residence 3: 1930, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Notes for HELEN (NELLIE M.) ?:
In 1930, the Census says Matthew's wife's name is Margaret. Same as Nellie M. ? or a different wife (second)?
More About MATTHEW RIES and HELEN ?:
Marriage: Abt. 1905
Children of MATTHEW RIES and HELEN ? are:
i. ELISE H.2 RIES, b. 19 Sep 1906; d. Nov 1979, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin.
ii. MARGARET F. RIES, b. 12 May 1908; d. Jan 1977, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin.
More About MARGARET F. RIES:
Occupation: 1930, telephone operator
2. iii. JOSEPH "JOE" M. RIES, b. 26 Aug 1909, Pewaukee, Waukesha, Wisconsin; d. 04 Nov 1959, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin.
iv. MARY A. RIES, b. Abt. 1912; d. Aft. 1930, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Notes for MARY A. RIES:
Mary was killed by a drunken driver near the former German Lutheran Church in Sussex
v. ELROY "BUD" P. RIES, b. 07 Jul 1920; d. 29 Oct 1997, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin; m. DOROTHY ?.
Notes for ELROY "BUD" P. RIES:
1984 - World War II veteran Elroy Ries and his wife, Dorothy, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with 200 friends in McLaughlin's Barn.
Bud Reis had a tin shop under the IGA store in the basement. School: Sussex Graded School History www.slahs.org/history/school/sussex/history.htm
Generation No. 2
2. JOSEPH "JOE" M.2 RIES(MATTHEW P.1) was born 26 Aug 1909 in Pewaukee, Waukesha, Wisconsin, and died 04 Nov 1959 in Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin. He married ELIZABETH LEMKE 26 Aug 1939 in St. James Catholic Church, Menomonee Falls, Waukesha, Wisconsin, daughter of WILLIAM LEMKE and CATHERINE ?. She was born 18 Apr 1915 in Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
More About JOSEPH "JOE" M. RIES:
Education: 1923, Graduated Sussex Main Street School
Occupation: 1930, Stockroom clerk at motor co. ?
Residence 1: 1910, Delafield, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Residence 2: 1920, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Residence 3: 1930, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin
More About JOSEPH RIES and ELIZABETH LEMKE:
Marriage: 26 Aug 1939, St. James Catholic Church, Menomonee Falls, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Children of JOSEPH RIES and ELIZABETH LEMKE are:
i. JEAN3 RIES, b. 1943, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin.
ii. JOANNE RIES, b. 1944, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin; m. RAY ISHE.
iii. KATHY RIES, b. 1950, Sussex, Waukesha, Wisconsin; m. RONALD J. QUINDT; b. 27 Nov 1947; d. 15 Mar 2004.
Notes for RONALD J. QUINDT:
Quindt, Ronald J., formerly of Sussex, d. March 15, 2004, at age 56 years. Husband of Kathy (nee Ries). Father of Christina and Bob. Son of Lois (the late Edward). Brother of Sharon (Jeff) Feypel. Son-in-law of Elizabeth Ries. Ron worked for 37 years in the canning industry, most of the time in Sussex, WI.