Madelyn Kai, 99, died Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at the Wakefield Health Care Center in Wakefield.
Mary Madelyn Steinhoff Kai was born Jan. 5, 1921 in the home of her aunt in Bancroft. She was baptized in Holy Cross Catholic Church in Bancroft by Father Michael Quin. Madelyn's early years were spent in St. Helena and Wynot. The family moved to Bancroft in 1925, which became her home until her marriage. At age four, Mary Madelyn started school in Bancroft. She soon dropped the name "Mary" and used her preferred middle name "Madelyn." She graduated from high school in Bancroft in 1938 and took the Normal Teaching Course, which, along with passing 17 state tests, made it possible to obtain a Third Grade Elementary certificate. That certificate allowed her to teach in a rural school at the age of 17. This was during the depression era when jobs were hard to come by. Madelyn walked to her first rural school, which was five miles from home. She was paid $45 per month.
She spent her summers attending Wayne State College during World War II, working at the Bomb Loading Plant in Mead. A vivid memory of hers was the day in May 1945 when the war in Europe ended. The screeching noise of the bomb plant became quiet that day, never to be heard again. She then finished her teaching career in Madison and awaited her fiance's return from his four years overseas. Clarke Kai finally came home on Dec. 1, 1945. He and Madelyn were married on a cold, snowy day, Dec. 27, 1945 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Bancroft. After the teaching year ended, the two began their lives together on the Kai farm west of Pender. Madelyn's dedication was to her church, St. Mary's of Wayne, and raising her sons, Terry, Kevin, Brian and Shawn, as well as the grandchildren as they came along.
Survivors include her sons, Terry, Kevin (Bonnie), Brian and Shawn (Kim); her sister, Norene Baker; 17 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Harry and Minnie (Hansen) Steinhoff; a brother, Maurie; her husband, Clarke; a daughter-in-law, Ann (Terry); sister and husband, Elaine and Ed Zach; great-granddaughter, Lauryn Trautman and brother-in-law, Marvin Baker.