Obituary for Pauline R. Thelen
She died Saturday, March 16, 2013, at 7:55 p.m., quietly, of several serious physical problems in La Crosse. WI.
Pauline to her adult life associates, and Rae to her family, she was born in Milwaukee, WI, December 7, 1933. Pearl Harbor followed on her 7th birthday. Her parents were Paul Martin and Molly Mae Spurrier Martin. The family lived in the Milwaukee area until the spring of 1946, when they moved to Buckeye Ridge, Vernon County, near La Farge, WI., to farm. Rae graduated from La Farge High School in 1952 and shortly thereafter joined the Air Force. She served her military years at Lackland AFB, TX, teaching math and traveling to compete in women’s softball, basketball, and volleyball games.
She graduated from UW-La Crosse with a B.S. in Physical Education, minor in mathematics in 1959. While in college, she participated in starting competitive field hockey, basketball, swimming, track, and volleyball.
Her first post-college job was teaching physical education and coaching at Monona Grove High School, where she started the state girls’ track meets. Then Rae moved to teach and coach at UW-Platteville in 1965. She coached basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, softball, and track & field She also officiated several sports and served on the WIAA Official’s Advisory Committee for four different sports.
Pauline served as Director for Administrative Services for WISAA for 27 years, pioneering development of girls’ athletics in Wisconsin. Her emphases included basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, softball, and track and field. She is credited with several enhancements of girls’ basketball, eventually creating a state championship tournament in Milwaukee. In 1985, she received the WISAA Woman of the Year award; 1995, WSAW Lifetime Achievement Award, and Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association 2004 Friend of Basketball award.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her sister Colleen Ameringer, and brother-in-law, Allan Ameringer. She is survived by sisters Jean Hanson and Linda Gonzales, La Crosse, brothers Edmund (Carol) of Mesa, AZ, and David, Portland, OR., with several nieces, nephews and their children. Also surviving is her roommate and friend, Robbie Ward. Rae was married to Paul Thelen of La Farge for about five years after leaving UW-Platteville. She has remained friends with her step-children, Art, John, and Anne.
In addition to Rae’s love of sports kept her occupied playing and coaching softball in the summer months. She also loved to travel and the American and Canadian Rockies were her favorite destinations. She of took her nieces and nephews on camping trips to see distant family members and sights in the West. Every year she watched the WIAA boys and girls state tournaments especially basketball. Meals had to be planned around the game times. Rae loved to watch old WWII movies. She also loved Jon Wayne and musical movies. She watched them so many times she would turn the sound off and follow the story.
Rae received her bachelors degree in Physical Education from UW-La Crosse. Her Masters was from the University of Michigan and she was well on her way to her doctorate in Physical Education from the University of Iowa before leaving to work full time. Rae will be greatly missed and remembered by those who knew her.
Rae requested that there be no funeral and she preferred cremation. There will be a memorial service at a later time as the weather turns to spring.
March 19, 2013 @ 11:38 am
Miss you Rae! Now I will have to eat turtle sundaes by myself.
Sue (Martin) Lund
March 19, 2013 @ 12:33 pm
Aunt Rae, I hold so many special memories of your ventures here to Colorado, to join all of us in our camping trips and the many, many marshmallows that caught fire, and the tall stories told at night around the campfires. Most of all the memory of the water-bumper cars and moped rides you and I shared at WI Dells. The look on your face, as I held your bumper car under the waterfall and you became totally drenched was priceless! My heart aches today, but I know that with time, the ache will soften as more memories of special times with you are used to patch the pain. God has gained another Angel and I know that you will teach them all how to be competitive in softball, basketball, and track. Look down upon us all every day, knowing that we are all looking up to the heaven’s to see you as well. I love you and will miss you. Until we meet again, one day.
March 19, 2013 @ 12:53 pm
You will be sorely missed by so many people. Love you Aunt Rae.
March 20, 2013 @ 7:47 am
Farewell dear Auntie. You will be fondly remembered by so many.
March 20, 2013 @ 11:48 am
Pauline you will be missed. You were a role model to all women coaches and Athletic Directors that were a part of WISAA. Thanks for paving the way for so many girls to experience the thrill of interscholastic competition. You have touched so many lives and will always be remembered.
Karol "Gilly" Gilman
March 22, 2013 @ 3:55 am
What a special person I remember. I have such fond memories of Rae and Robbie coaching the Chieftains softball team. Rae was kind enough to pick me up for practices before I was old enough to drive myself! You will be missed.
Michael & Misty Draeger
March 22, 2013 @ 5:41 am
You will always be remembered as a great person.
Cheri Sandmire McBride
March 22, 2013 @ 6:41 am
Rae coached a ball team that I played on called the Kickapoo Valley Chieftans. She was a great coach but I fear there were a few of us on the team that tried her patience at times!!! Without Rae, womens sports would not be what they are today so Thank you for that & for all the memories from softball! RIP Rae, you deserve it.
March 28, 2013 @ 3:58 am
Deepest sympathies for the loss of my dear friend and pal,Rae…I’ve been meaning to track her down for awhile now…so sorry I didn’t do it sooner. I hope she knows how much she will be missed…..Patsy
February 12, 2022 @ 3:58 pm
Rae, of the 6 Martin children, you stand head and shoulders above the rest of us. We other 5 took life paths very traditional and did well in that regard.
However, you were such an advocate of women’s rights making such progress for all women because of that life approach.
I think of you often and still wish we could talk as we did many times.
My best memories and thoughts are for you Rae.