Gloria Kuchler, Longtime Tosa Resident and Activist-Volunteer, Started Community Rummage sales

July 9, 2009

Gloria Mary Kuchler, a volunteer and social activist who organized what became an annual community rummage sale in Wauwatosa’s East Towne area, was a woman who saw endless possibilities in people and politics.


Whether she was feeding central city children, corresponding with the late Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire or demonstrating against domestic violence or the Gulf War, Kuchler reached beyond her suburban home to make a difference in the broader world around her.


An early advocate of recycling and ecological responsibility, she was pleased with her family’s suggestion that she turn her death into a positive environmental statement, too. And so, when Kuchler, 85, is laid to rest Saturday, July 11, at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Elm Grove, she will be in a simple pine coffin that was lovingly crafted and decorated by her husband, Roland, and her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.


Sixteen family members gathered last Sunday, July 5, to create the coffin at the home of one of her daughters, Susan Couchman, in the Town of Erin. Couchman’s husband, Rob, a carpenter/contractor, downloaded coffin plans from the Internet and purchased the lumber for $100 at a Home Depot store.


Family members sanded the wood, screwed it together with power tools and used acrylic paints and a wood-burning tool to decorate the underside of the coffin lid. That included her namesake and great granddaughter, 16-month-old Gloria Pabon, of West Allis, leaving her handprints on the wood.


The volunteer effort was a fitting tribute for a woman who gave of herself tirelessly.

“She just was such a force for giving,” said Susan Couchman. “She just really wanted to give to people, and she got such a thrill out of it herself. As my cousin, John Zacher put it, ‘It wasn’t just that she gave. She made you feel special when she gave to you.’ ”


Kuchler died July 1 of complications of age at Wisconsin Lutheran Care Center, 6800 N. 76th St., where she lived after suffering a stroke about four years ago. Visitation will be Friday, July 10, from 2:30 until the 4:30 p.m. start of a funeral Mass at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 7474 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa.


Many years ago, Kuchler got the idea of holding a rummage sale with neighbors in the 2500 block of N. 66th Street in Wauwatosa. She organized it and collected $1 from each participating neighbor to pay for advertising. That grew block by block over the years into an annual area event that involves dozens of homes, Susan Couchman said.


Keenly interested in political issues, Kuchler wrote many letters that were published in the Milwaukee Journal. She also sent letters to Proxmire about a range of topics, to which he responded with personal replies, family members said.


“She cared about the underdog,” Susan Couchman said. “Children’s issues and women’s issues, those were very big to her. And peace. She demonstrated for peace during the first war in Iraq. She was very vocal about how she felt about things.”


Kuchler managed the hot lunch program at the former St. Thomas Aquinas School on Milwaukee’s north side for about 25 years, building it into a successful and financially stable operation, family members said. When she learned that many children were going without breakfasts, she expanded the program to include free breakfasts supplementing the menu with day-old bakery and other food she solicited from the community..


After retiring from the school in 1985, she did a wide variety of volunteering, sometimes at the requests of her daughters. She comforted babies as a volunteer at the Penfield Children’s Center in Milwaukee, tutored adults in reading and mathematics at the former St. Gall Catholic Church on Milwaukee’s north side, volunteered as a cook in Waukesha for a free meal program run by the Cooperating Congregations of Waukesha County and tutored for an English-as-a-second-language program at a church in downtown Waukesha.


Active into her late 70s, Kuchler loved to bake. She made dozens of Christmas cookies each year – often creating 20 or more varieties -- which she and her children then gave away packed in shirt boxes to family, friends, neighbors and parishioners.


In addition to her husband, Roland, of Wauwatosa, and her daughter, Susan Couchman, she is survived by a son, Tim, of Wauwatosa; and a daughter, Judy Boland, of the Town of Brookfield.


In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Hope Unit at the Wisconsin Lutheran Care Center.



This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Suburban News Roundup

E-mail Newsletter

Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.

Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter
Get the Newsletter!

Login or Register to manage all your newsletter preferences.

Community Watch

» 10-year-old girl dies after freeway crash in Dane County 11/25

» Wauwatosa unveils convenient, affordable water online water bill payment options 11/25

» Wauwatosa East girls basketball team uses big second half to beat Wisconsin Lutheran 11/25

» Plenty of positives in Wauwatosa West girls' basketball loss to Kettle Moraine 11/25

» Wauwatosa East boys basketball team could battle for GMC title 11/25

» Wauwatosa West swimming team has bright future with talented underclassmen on the rise 11/25

» MacGillis, Barkow share Wauwatosa West boys volleyball MVP honors 11/25

» Wauwatosa West boys basketball team looks for improvement 11/25

» Sports Notes: Nov. 26, 2015 11/25

» Wauwatosa East volleyball season has solid season despite just missing another trip to state 11/25

» Wauwatosa Hurricanes return three state qualifiers — Danny Larson, Cal Hartt, Avery Weishoff 11/25

» Milwaukee County Zoo celebrates first birthday of young gorilla 11/24

» Wauwatosa stores set Thanksgiving, Black Friday hours 11/23

» Tosa's city health department earns national accreditation 11/23

» Free screening of 'Most Likely to Succeed' held Dec. 1 11/23

» Wauwatosa stores launch Small Business Saturday event 11/20

» Updated state championship game rankings of area prep football teams and players 11/19

» Wauwatosa dealership taking 'extra precautions' after four vehicles were stolen Updated:  11/19

» Wauwatosa East girls basketball team has plenty of experience returning 11/18

» Wauwatosa East's Potter earns two team cross-country awards 11/18

» Wauwatosa West girls to field experienced basketball team 11/18

» Wauwatosa East's Ripple ends career with impressive showing at state swimming meet 11/18

» Wauwatosa West freshman Julia Larson does well at state swimming championships 11/17

» Wauwatosa West's Alicia Picard, Alyssa Piek, Nicole Mystrow earn top tennis honors 11/17

» Christian Laettner hoops camps at Wauwatosa East successful 11/17

View All Posts Got a tip? Welcome rss



Hidden Tosa


"Hidden Tosa" is a semi-regular feature where reporters Rory Linnane or Rachel Minske explore the closed down and closed off parts of Wauwatosa.


Local Business Directory