Walter “Kerry” Wohlust passed away peacefully Saturday, April 25, 2009, at the Veterans Home in Union Grove. He lived an extraordinary life filled with wonderful memories and was known for his many artistic talents as well as his long career as the leader of the Kerry Wahls Quartet.
Kerry was born in Racine, WI, on September 27, 1919, son of the late George and Frieda (Berg) Wohlust. He spent childhood summers working and playing at Muskego Beach Amusement Park and was billed as the “World’s Youngest Professional Drummer” at the age of five. He went on to attend Horlick High School and the Army Air Cadet Training School in St. Cloud, MN. He married the love of his life, Aileen “Skip” Danielson, on August 9, 1941, and they raised four daughters. He served in the armed forces during WWII in the European and Southern Pacific theaters in a variety of capacities: a USO entertainer in shows with many big stars of the time, cadet, gunner, medic and soldier and was awarded a purple heart and a silver star for extreme bravery in combat. While stationed on Christmas Island in the South Pacific, his artwork in the camp newsletter drew the attention of visiting First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and she asked him to d o her portrait and bring it to the White House.
Kerry’s numerous paintings and prints depicting our vanishing landscapes can be found all over the world. He loved to paint “memories” and has a series of lighthouses, religious paintings and murals, airplanes, landmarks around the great lakes and even a special series of oil paintings depicting early Muskego Beach, now on permanent display in their public library. One of Kerry’s paintings of the Thunderbirds squadron is displayed in the Thunderbird National Museum located in Nevada.
Kerry maintained a dual career, painting by day and performing by night with numerous talented musicians from southeastern Wisconsin in clubs ranging from Chicago to the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva. His smooth handling of vibes, vocals and drums gave the Kerry Wahls Quartet a large following of cherished fans. They played many long term engagements in southeast Wisconsin, including the Burlingshire Resort and Greco’s in Kenosha in more recent years.
Despite his achievements musically and artistically, Kerry’s greatest accomplishments came from providing rich family experiences for his children and grandchildren. He is survived by his loving wife of 67 years “Skip” Aileen (Danielson); his four daughters, Melody (Robert) Carter of Baraboo/Racine, Lani Braley, Autumn (John) Lenart, and Paris (Tashe) Bozinovski all of Racine; his eleven grandchildren, Kerry (Rachael) Carter of Hertfordshire, England, Scott (Cheryl) Carter of Brooklyn Center, MN, Chad (Kristy) Carter of Green Bay, WI, Michael (Amy) Carter of Franksville, Robin (Jerry) Lillard, McAllen, TX, Lorelei (Tom) Smith of Oak Creek, WI, Marnie (Chuck) Hidde of Racine, Brea Lenart of Racine, Brett Lenart of Chicago, IL, Erika Bozinovski of Madison, WI and Alyssa (Jacob) Minger of Sturtevant, WI; and his twelve great-grandchildren, Zachary and Oliver Carter, Madison and Mia Carter, Kaeley Carter, Jacob and Hannah Lillard, Jordan and Dylan Smith, Paige and Max Hidde and Logan Minger. He is also survived by his sister Ruth (Fred) Oertel of Racine; brother-in-law Stanley (June) Danielson of Woodstock, IL; sisters-in-law Elaine (Ken) Danielson of Darien, WI, and Marlene (Glenn) Wohlust of Racine.
He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Frieda Wohlust; sister, Leora (Mike) Dinkelman; brothers, Leroy and Glenn Wohlust; sisters-in-law Aline and Mae Wohlust, June Danielson; and brothers-in-law, Mike Dinkelman and Ken Danielson. Also surviving are many dear nieces, nephews and family friends. Although Kerry will be deeply missed, we know he is up in heaven right now singing, playing vibes with one hand and painting more beautiful memories with the other hand.
A Memorial Service will be held at the funeral home on Wednesday, April 29, 2009, at 11 a.m. Private interment will be held. Relatives and friends may meet with the family at the funeral home on Wednesday from 10 a.m. until time of service. Memorials to the Veterans Home in Union Grove have been suggested.
The family would like to express their deep appreciation to the staff at the Veteran’s Home in Union Grove at Boland Hall, 2 east, for their kind and compassionate care of Kerry during his stay there.
MARESH-MEREDITH & ACKLAM FUNERAL HOME
803 Main St., Racine (262) 634-7888