Memorial Day, a day to remember loved ones who sacrificed their entire lives for family and friends, was a perfect day for Stella Jean Elizabeth Schauwecker to begin her heaven-bound journey.

Stella died at the home of her son Jim and daughter-in-law Kathy on May 25, 2020, surrounded by loved ones.

Stella was born on June 15, 1928, to Joseph James Nacke and Elizabeth (Betty) Radamacher Nacke in Meta, Missouri. They named her Stella, which means star. From the day she was born, the world around her was a brighter place. She joined her sisters Genevieve (June) and Maxine, who collectively became known as the “Nacke girls.” They became the matriarchs of close-knit families that still gather together every year to celebrate Thanksgiving, weddings, funerals, birthdays and baptisms.

Stella loved attending St. Cecilia Catholic School and Church in Meta, but her world revolved around her best friend of almost 90 years, Margie Luetkemeyer. Even when they became adults and Stella moved away from Meta, they celebrated their summer birthdays together. Even though Stella was never a morning person, she got up early on her birthday to savor every minute of her special day.

Stella and Margie weathered many trials and tribulations together, including when Margie’s five brothers fought and returned from World War II. They were convinced their prayers aided in the safe return of all five of them. Stella and Margie graduated from Meta High School in 1946.

After deciding to pursue a career in nursing, Stella took a leap of faith and boarded a train to St. Louis to spend three years at the DePaul University School of Nursing. The nuns at DePaul taught her how to starch her nurse’s cap and uniform, to polish her white shoes until they gleamed and to be the most compassionate, knowledgeable nurse that had ever graduated from the program. Upon graduation in 1950, she began her career at St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City.

Besides working long shifts at the hospital, Stella took time to attend church picnics and dances in Maries and Osage counties. At a picnic in Meta, she caught the eye of Charles Schauwecker. Thus began their courtship.

They became well-known for their graceful dancing and the fact they never left a dance until the last note was played by the band. During this time, Charlie embarked on the only task at which he ever failed, to teach Stella to become a good driver. She drove with her right foot firmly planted on the gas pedal and her left foot ready to stomp the brake, if need be. For 60 years, a guardian angel flew over her car wherever she drove, and when she finally stopped driving, her guardian angel probably got a new set of wings.

Charles and Stella were married on Sept. 27, 1952, at St. Cecilia Catholic Church. The wedding party took a ferry across the Osage River to Jefferson City to have formal pictures taken and then returned to Meta later that day to celebrate. Tom was born in August 1953. Stella returned to nursing at St. Mary’s Hospital in the operating room.

In 1956, Charlie and Stella received the shocking news they had twins on the way. As her due date neared, she had to leave the operating room because she couldn’t get close enough to the operating table to hand the instruments to the doctors. Twins Jim and Judy arrived in December 1956, and within a year, the family relocated to Sedalia, Missouri. Stella accepted a position in labor and delivery at Bothwell Regional Health Center. Many years later, when her own children had children of their own, Stella would say of her grandchildren, “I’ve seen a lot of babies in my time, and there isn’t a bad-looking one in this bunch!”

In 1966, the Schauwecker family made their final move to Columbia. Stella became an emergency room nurse at Boone Hospital Center, an eye-opening experience. During this time, her children attended Hickman High School, where they were all loyal kewpies. Stella was hired to be the school nurse at Rock Bridge High School when it opened in 1973. She loved the students and staff of Rock Bridge and wore spirit shirts for all of the games, except when Rock Bridge played Hickman in sports.

In 1975, her daughter Judy decided to enter Avila University to pursue a nursing career. Stella was thrilled her daughter was following in her footsteps. Life goes full circle, and Stella’s last days were spent with Judy providing the care she needed to peacefully pass from this life.

Stella retired from Rock Bridge High School in the spring of 1993, so she could spend more time with Charlie and her nine grandchildren. She loved seeing them compete in athletics, perform on the stage and become adults who helped make the world a better place. In 2011, Charlie became a resident of the Missouri Veterans Home in Mexico, Missouri. Until his death in 2017, Stella traveled with family or friends to Mexico several times a week. They would sit and hold hands and remember the fun times they had gliding across the dance floor.

Stella spent her last years living at the Terrace Retirement Community and briefly at Cedarhurst of Columbia. Her joy became seeing photos and videos of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She would often remark that “old age is not for sissies.”

In the end, she was ready to meet up with Charlie for one more spin on the dance floor. With her passing, all of the members of the greatest generation from the Nacke and Schauwecker families are gone. The lessons they learned and shared with their children will be their lasting legacy.

Stella was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband of 64 years, sisters June Barnthouse (Bill) and Maxine Gordon (Ralph), sister-in-law Jane Wegman (Jack), brother-in-law Walter Schauwecker (Doris), sister-in-law Evelyn Wekenburg (Bud) and an infant brother Felix.

She is survived by her children Tom Schauwecker and wife Sharon, Jim Schauwecker and wife Kathy (Columbia), and daughter Judy Switzer and husband Mark (Kansas City). Grandchildren include Drew Switzer (Leslie) of Kansas City, Matt Switzer (Bridget) of St. Louis, Kurt Schauwecker (Suzanne) of Nashville, Anne McLuckie (Kramer) of Des Moines, William Schauwecker (fiancé Carrie Stephenson) of Columbia, Abby Switzer (Kansas City), Charlie Schauwecker (Seattle), Harry Schauwecker (Chicago) and Margaret Schauwecker (Atlanta) Great grandchildren include Max, Summer, Leo and Theo. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews, who will be toasting her at the next family reunion.

Mass will be celebrated at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Columbia at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 27. Due to current restrictions, all in attendance will be required to wear a mask and socially distance during the service. There will be no visitation. A private burial at Memorial Park will take place immediately following the service. The service will be livestreamed for anyone who is unable to attend.

Memorials may be made to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 815 Bernadette Drive, Columbia, MO 65203. The family wishes to thank Boone Hospital Home Care and Hospice for their caring, compassionate assistance during Stella’s final days, along with Dr. Thomas Ciolino and staff.

Arrangements are under the direction of Parker-Millard Funeral Service and Crematory, 12 East Ash St., Columbia, MO 65203; 573-449-4153. Condolences may be left online for the family at www.ParkerMillard.com.

Supervising Editor is Fred Anklam Jr. 

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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