Keri Felke

Friday, June 9, 2023 12:59 pm

Keri Felke, age 46, of Decorah, died Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at Gundersen Health Systems in La Crosse, Wis.

Funeral Services will be at 11 a.m., Thursday, June 15, 2023, at the Washington Prairie Lutheran Church, 1725 Washington Prairie Rd. In rural Decorah with Rev. Jennifer Edinger presiding.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 14, at Washington Prairie Lutheran Church.

God gifted the world with Keri Lyn Felke on May 9, 1977. He chose to take her home on June 7, 2023. Her impact will be felt for a long time.

She completed the “Felke sisters” with Shelley and Kim. Their parents, Leon and Sandy (Snitker) were charged with raising these girls to the best of their abilities. Not an easy task.

Keri spent her early years growing up in the “flats.”  Many childhood friends were made in this area of Decorah at a time when things were easy. It was a great neighborhood to raise kids. Keri graduated from Thomas Robert’s High School in 1995.

Keri started her restaurant career with her mother, Sandy, in 1997. They operated Burl’s Restaurant on Montgomery Street in tandem with her sister, Kim, and brother-in-law, Mike Sims, operating the gas and convenience store SCS on the other side. Breakfast at Burl’s was legendary, as were their noon lunches. Keri’s work ethic as a young adult was impressive, a trait that would prove important through her life.

She reconnected her love of softball and volleyball and joined the Eclips team. Many friends were made through this connection. When she and her mother sold Burl’s in 2002, Keri looked for work in a different direction:  Bookkeeper, office manager, golf course assistant manager. She was searching for her next passion. To fill her off time from the golf course in the winter she was asked to “fill in” as a temporary front desk person for her softball and volleyball team at Eclips. One thing led to another, and she joined the Eclips team as a full-time front desk person. Keri gave 110%. She managed the front desk, filled orders, and cleaned. Still looking for that new passion, she enrolled in LaJames Cosmetology School as a nail tech. She worked 6 hours a day, drove 90 minutes to school one way, studied for another six hours, graduated, and became one of the first licensed nail technicians in Decorah. If you ever experienced a manicure or pedicure from Keri, you know you had one of the best. Keri’s clients became friends, and her co-workers became family.

Another dream came true in May of 2018. The Fireman’s Inn in Ridgeway came up for sale and the lure of the restaurant business called her back. With this new drive, Keri committed herself to making this venture a success. She also embraced her new community and what would, of course, become her new Fireman’s family. Again, her noon lunches, specialty dishes, pizza and pretzels became a new favorite in the surrounding areas. If Keri was cooking, there was nothing better. Keri worked hard to build her team. Constantly striving for perfection in service and entrees was Keri’s goal. Keri loved her Fireman’s patrons and family.

Keri’s niece and nephews were also a huge part of her world. Soccer and football games filled her spare time. She loved them unconditionally and being with them was her joy. Keri was a gift to all those who loved her.

If there is a grill or pizza oven in heaven, you know she’s cooking for them all! Hopefully, there’s a side of ranch dressing.

Those left to cherish her memory are her parents: Leon and Sandy Felke; sisters: Shelley (Kevin) Patten of Jane Lew, WV, and Kimberly (Michael) Sims of Decorah; nephew: Kalob (Kendra) McCaffrey of Fairmont, WV; niece: Kaisha (Sarah) Benson of Minnetonka, Minn; nephews:  Gunnar Sims, and Archer Sims of Decorah; and great-nephews:  Kane McCaffrey, Kullen McCaffrey and Brooks Benson.

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