Lena Evelyn Eaton was called to eternal life on March 10, 2023 at the incredible age of 99 years and 9 months. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, mother-in-law, aunt, sister-in-law,and friend. She was loved by many.
Lena was born on June 11,1923 to Mamie and Ignatius Rini in Dover, Ohio whose roots were both from Sicily, Italy. Together they had 8 children: Laura, Martin, Fred, Tony, Mary, Lena, Frank, and Marion. The Rini family survived The Great Depression eating a lot of Italian bread and olive oil, and vegetables from their garden! She attended school with her siblings in her home town, and later pursued her studies in nursing.
She joined the Navy as a WAVE and was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, IL for 3 years during World War II. She cared for soldiers wounded in battle; one in particular she nursed back to health and later married! William Howard Eaton was the love of her life. She often said "They don't make them like him anymore- they broke the mold." They were married at the Chapel at Great Lakes Naval Station and were blessed with 2 wonderful children: Mary Jo and William (Bill) who went to Holy Cross Catholic Grade School. Lena and her husband were very happily married, and built their home on steadfast faith with God as their foundation.
Lena was widowed when she was 45 years old, and returned to the Medical field at Milwaukee County General Hospital, which she retired from. She was both mother and father to her 2 children, sacrificing to put them both through Pius XI High School, and helping support them by having them live at home while they attended college. Nephew Ronny from Mauston and Niece Donna from Madison both lived with Lena at different times while attending college in Milwaukee.
Lena lived a full and vibrant life. She lived without regret, and loved without limits. She had a passion for God, and for her family, and spent her life sharing her faith, love, kindness, laughter, bravery and unwavering strength with everyone she knew, especially her family. She was a true gem, and for a thousand reasons, we have been blessed to have her in our lives.
Lena loved to stay active. She walked daily, golfed, tended to her beautiful vegetable and flower gardens, played the keyboard, and bowled weekly with her church women's bowling league for 10 years. She loved playing cards with her friends and family, and even took swim classes as an adult with friends at the local college. She loved to play with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and played tirelessly with them while teaching them all of the important things in life.
Lena was very athletic and loved playing sports like baseball and was on her High School basketball team. She loved cheering on her favorite teams: The Green Bay Packers and the Milwaukee Brewers. She was very lucky at winning many pools for both her teams! She picked numbers relating to her family. She loved reading and was an avid reader. Later in life, she had books delivered monthly to keep up with her enjoyment of reading. She also read the Milwaukee Journal and Readers Digest for all of her adult life. She was a Jeopardy fan, watching it most evenings and was quite good at knowing a lot of the answers! She was also an active volunteer at her church, Holy Cross, now St. Vincent Palotti-East. For many years, she took the altar linens home weekly to launder and iron them and returned them clean and pressed.
Feeding her family was very important to Lena and she loved making eggplant parmesan, breaded veal, spaghetti and meatballs, homemade pizza, and many beef and pork roasts with mashed potatoes and gravy for her family. She would get her roasts from the Butcher Shop that is now a restaurant called Maxie's on 67th & Fairview, and her veal and canolis from Glorioso's Italian Market on Brady Street. She always made two homemade pies for these family dinners and for holidays and other family get togethers.
She loved nothing more than making large meals and being surrounded by her family eating a meal together! There was always a kids table right in the kitchen along with the kitchen table. When the kids table was full, some children sat on phone books to reach at the adult table, and there was an old, well worn wooden high chair for the youngest. The younger children wore bibs handmade by Lena's mother Mamie, who also crocheted and cross-stiched many beautiful items for her family.
Lena leaves us, to cherish her sweet memories of her son William (Robin) and her daughter Mary Jo (Randall, deceased), Her grandchildren Tamra (Chris), Rebecca, Sarah (Paul), William (Cassie), Sean (Lindsay), and Ross, Her great grandchildren who affectionately called her GiGi Lena: Jocelyn, Madison, Randall, James, Taylor, Carmen, Chloe, Ciara, Graham, Nolan, and Callum, Sister-in-Laws: Alice and Georgia, Nephews: Ronny, Martin, Michael, Frank, Tom, Patrick, John, Scott, Dan, and Todd, Nieces: Pat, Peg, Cherie, Linda, Beth, Susan, Andrea, and Joanne Special family friend Bev.
Lena is proceeded in death by her husband William, her mother Mamie, her mother-in- law Myrtis, her siblings Laura, Martin, Fred, Tony, Mary, Frank, and Marion, her son-in-law Randall, her nieces Donna, Bobbie, Barbara, and Cathy, her nephews John, Jerry, Dick, Jim, and Bill and friends Jean, Wally, Fern, Aggie, Joe, Fran, Bob, Pat, Lucy, and Rosie.
Lena was our most precious gift. We have been abundantly blessed by her presence in our lives, and we will cherish the love and memories she leaves us with. She will be greatly missed, but her legacy of love will remain in our hearts forever.
A Visitation for Lena will take place on Friday, March 24, 2023 at St. Vincent Pallotti East (5424 W. Bluemound Rd. Milwaukee, WI 53208) from 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. At 11:00 a.m., eulogies and presentations by Lena's grandchildren will begin. A Mass of Christian Burial for Lena will commence at 11:30 a.m. Following the Mass, we will be processing across the street to Calvary Cemetery where Lena will be laid to rest. If you wish to support Lena's lifelong family church, St. Vincent Pallotti East Catholic Church, you may do so by clicking here: St. Vincent Pallotti Memorial Donations