Renee Emilie Ketcher Kirchenwitz, 74, of Watertown, MN, passed away peacefully Friday, May 5, 2023, in her home.
Renee was born Feb. 1, 1949, at Cottage Hospital in Watertown to ElRoy and Hilda “Hillie” (Barfknecht) Ketcher.
She was baptized into the Lutheran faith Feb. 20, 1949, at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Mound, MN. She was confirmed April 7, 1963, at St. Peter Lutheran Church in rural Watertown.
She grew up in Watertown Township, MN, at the Ketcher Family Farm with the Round Barn and later at the Oak Lake House.
She attended kindergarten at Watertown Public School, then first through eighth grade at St. Peter Lutheran School House in rural Watertown. Ninth through 12th grades were spent at Watertown Public High School.
She attended Brainerd Vo-Tech (trade school) and studied retail floral and store management, graduating with honor.
Renee married Roger Dressel Sept. 27, 1968. They had a farm on County Road 127 they called “R” Country Acres, where they raised their three children: Ross, Rhett, and Reesa.
Renee was joined in marriage to Duane Otto June 30 1990. They bought a historic house in Waconia, MN, that they restored together. They welcomed their only child, HillieRe, in 1991.
In 1994, they moved to a farm with another historic house, which they also restored together on County Road 24 in Watertown, which became “Otto’s FloraDora Garden Center.”
Renee married Kenneth Kirchenwitz Aug. 10, 2013, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Watertown. The two of them lived at Ken’s farm in Woodland Township in Montrose, MN, from 2013 to 2019, where they gardened together and enjoyed the country life. In 2019, they moved to Watertown, where they have lived together until present.
They enjoyed many vacations together, including their honeymoon to the Grand Canyon and to many national parks in the fall of 2013, as well as their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris, Normandy, Belgium, and Germany to visit Wittenberg for the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses in 2019.
They enjoyed their trips to Florida, Alaska, and to many other states. Renee was especially happy to get to take her granddaughter Emma to Disney World in 2022. They had their last big trip in January and February of 2023, when she finally visited all the states, as well as many family and friends along the way.
She got to visit her niece in Florida, Elvis’ birthplace in Mississippi, New Orleans, her grandson and his wife in Texas, the Alamo, and she got to go to Fort Worth to the John Wayne Experience and Museum, where she felt so happy being surrounded by her hero.
They went to New Mexico and Arizona, where they visited many family and friends and national parks, cities, and monuments. Finally, they traveled home through Oklahoma and many other states. Ken will miss her and her companionship dearly.
Renee worked in retail flower shops and garden stores for over 40 years, making many lifelong friends.
Renee was a lifelong gardener. She had many passions including world travel, interior decorating, selling plants, and dried floral arrangements. She also enjoyed teaching many floral classes at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, as well as conducting garden consultations and designing wedding flowers.
She was a choir member for 20 years and enjoyed being involved in the church and ministry. She had a lot of pride for St. Peter’s Lutheran Church history, as her family ancestors were part of the first church service that started the St. Peter congregation in 1867. She enjoyed learning and researching her family history.
Renee loved being a wife, mother, and grandmother; her family was her life and passion.
Renee is survived by her loving husband, Ken Kirchenwitz of almost 10 years; her sons, Ross (Cheryl) Dressel and Rhett (Kate) Dressel; her daughters, Reesa (Mike) Jaszewski and HillieRe (Christian) Wacker; step-children, Angela (Jeff) Templin, Daniel Kirchenwitz, and Kathy (Jake) Kirchenwitz; grandsons, Tyler (Brooke) Underwood, Alonzo (Alexa) Walker, Isaiah (Colleen) Walker, and Jameson Richard; granddaughters, Abigail (Gerald) Dressel, Anna Dressel, Ella Dressel, Emma Wacker, Esme Wacker, Briana Templin, Gracey Templin, Aurora Hagemeyer, and Gwen Jacobson; great-grandchildren, Ellie Walker, Elaine “Lainey” Dressel, Taidyn Hansen, Isaiah “Junior” Walker, Alonzo “Kash’ Walker, and Kyrie Walker; brothers, Keith (Diane) Ketcher and Ronald (Susan) Ketcher; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and distant relatives.
She was preceded in death by her father and mother, ElRoy and Hillie Ketcher; brother and sister-in-law, Rodney and Elizabeth Ketcher; dear granddaughter, Lexi Dressel; as well as many other dear family members and friends.
Renee’s celebration of life will take place Saturday May 13, at 9 a.m., with reviewal open to the public. A funeral service will take place at 11 a.m., with interment and a lunch and fellowship to follow at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 3030 Navajo Avenue, Watertown.
The family will direct memorials to Christ Community Lutheran School in Watertown.
Arrangements are with the Johnson Funeral Home in Waconia. 952-442-2121 www.johnsonfh.com