Nature 17

Lucille (Worzella) Theine

July 14, 1940 ~ March 8, 2024 (age 83) 83 Years Old

Lucille Theine Obituary

Lucille "Lucy" Theine

The brightest light, Lucy Theine, 83, "the Plant Lady", a wise and wisecracking creative soul, giver of the best hugs, and befriender of all, died Thursday, March 7th, 2024 in her Manawa home in the loving care of her family. 

Lucy was born July 14, 1940 to Leo and Lillian Worzella in Ellis, Wisconsin, the seventh of twelve children. She graduated from Auburndale High School as salutatorian of her class in 1958.

Following school, Lucy moved to Kansas City, MO where she attended airline school and worked in several accounting roles, most extensively with TWA. It was there that Lucy married Charles Hamlin in 1969. Charles served in the United States Air Force, and his assignments took them to Florida, South Carolina and West Germany with their two young daughters. A loving and doting mother, Lucy sewed numerous outfits for her daughters and their many Barbie dolls, made them creative Halloween costumes and baked so many special birthday cakes and school treats that her daughters were convinced that the photo of Betty Crocker on her classic cookbook was their mother. (It may also have been her voluminous hair.)

Following Charles' death in 1981, Lucy and her daughters returned to Wisconsin, where she later met and married fellow birdwatching enthusiast Ken Theine in 1985. In 1992 Lucy realized her dream of opening her own retail business and became the proprietor of Wild Bird Marketplace on College Avenue in Appleton, WI, along with Ken following his retirement. Her store married her passion for birding and gardening, featuring a variety of nature-themed gifts and supplies for attracting and feeding wild birds. The store's success was largely due to Lucy's friendly and outgoing personality and her ability to listen well and to talk to anyone. She never met a stranger, and many of her customers became good friends. She sold the store in 2000 to one of her customers and it continued to thrive.

During the time they were operating their store, Lucy and Ken purchased 57 acres of land out in the country in Manawa, WI where they built their dream home, planted numerous trees and gardens and over the years developed it into a stunning piece of property that visitors from far and wide have called a "little piece of heaven". Lucy's health issues over the years inhibited her ability to travel, but she poured her heart and soul into the land, making it a truly beautiful and enchanting oasis to enjoy throughout the seasons.  

There is not a greener thumb to be found than Lucy's. She would frequently rescue broken and discarded pieces of plants and nurture them until they were flourishing. Visitors to Lucy's home enjoyed tours of her gardens and more often than not left with cuttings of their favorite plants, which have been transplanted into numerous gardens far and wide. Neighbors passing by the house enjoyed free produce from her driveway "farm stand", stocked with bounty from her abundant vegetable and heirloom pumpkin gardens. Lucy nurtured her plants the way she nurtured people - with passion, great care, immense hope, and always giving extra love and encouragement to the overlooked and underdogs.

One of Lucy's greatest joys was being "Grammy" to her two beloved granddaughters, who loved magical trips to her house which often involved tea parties hosted by the fabulous Mrs. McGillicuddy, golf cart rides around the land to look for deer and to pick and eat whatever fruit was in season, exciting outdoor treasure hunts and frequent snacks of freshly baked cookies, and more cookies, and probably some donuts. 

Everyone who met Lucy learned something from her. Some learned about flowers or birds, others how to give new life to weary, worn furniture. Some of us learned that chocolate pudding with mini-marshmallow smiley faces can ease rough days, that hilly country roads make the best roller coasters. All of us learned what grace and fierce grit truly looks like, especially when faced with decades of crappy diagnoses and a body that didn’t seem to realize that Lucy had boundless love and joy to give this world. Yet over and over, she defied odds and made every minute matter. She loved to laugh and kept others laughing with her quick wit right up until her last days.

Lucy is survived by her husband, Ken Theine, her children, Catherine (Kyle) Bailey of Clive, IA and Carla (Ryan) Murphy of Middleton, WI; her grandchildren Piper and Rowan Murphy of Middleton, WI, and siblings Shirley Strub, Margie (Bill) Kieffer, Sandy Raab, Jerry (Jean) Worzella, and Cathy (Steve) Peters. 

Special thank you to the late Dr. Jeffrey Klingbeil, Dr. David Brooks and Jim, Brian, Juliet and Dawn at the Thedacare at Home Infusion Pharmacy for their excellent care.

A Celebration of Life mass for Lucy will be held Friday, April 26th at 4pm at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church located at N2845 Shadow Road in Waupaca, WI. A visitation will be held from 3pm until the time of service, and the mass will be immediately followed by dinner in the church fellowship hall.

In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Lucy's generous history of donating to local community fridges and pantries and refugee support groups, and performing random acts of kindness.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Lucille (Worzella) Theine, please visit our floral store.

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