Riha reunions tie families together
Friday, July 05, 2013 4:25 AM
June 9 was a special day for the family of Jim and Barbara (Riha) Jirak, as they hosted the 51st Riha family reunion and, in a bittersweet memory, celebrated the 60th birthday of their daughter, Jane Gilb, who recently passed away.
Descendants and spouses: From left, standing -- Shirley Riha, Jeannie Riha, Francis Riha, Mary Riha; seated -- Agnes Riha, Leonard Riha, Millie Riha, Verena Croatt, Barbara Jirak and Jim Jirak. (Submitted photo)
One of Jane's goals was to celebrate her 60th birthday the same day as the 51st Riha reunion. Representatives from the nine families were given a sky lantern to set sail in honor of those they have lost. Weather did not permit setting them free on the day of the reunion.
Three of the nine children raised by Frank and Mary Riha of Waucoma attended the reunion. Their six siblings have passed away over the years, but the Riha reunions are still carried on by their children.
A total of 108 family members of Frank and Mary (Franzen) Riha met to enjoy each other and a potluck meal known for its kolaches and head cheese.
In age, attendees ranged from the youngest, three-month-old Emmet Bakley, great-grandson of Jim and Barbara Jirak, to 90-year-old Verena Croatt, wife of the oldest sibling, James.
Members traveled from as far away as Rapid City, S.D., Milwaukee, Wis., Eden Prairie, Minn., and Sedalia, Mo.
Frank and Mary (Franzen) Riha raised nine children on their farm on Usher Road outside Waucoma.
Frank died in 1959; Mary in 1963. Three of their nine children remain and attended the reunion: Barbara of Fort Atkinson (husband Jim Jirak); Leonard of Monona, Wis. (wife Millie Murphy); Francis of Waucoma (wife Jeannie Hoey).
Relatives of other deceased siblings also attended including Verena (Rausch) Croatt, wife of James (deceased) of West Union; Agnes (Holthaus) Riha, wife of Edward Riha (deceased) of Decorah, Mary (McEnaney) Riha, wife of Matthias (deceased) of Cresco; Shirley (Wichman) Riha, wife of Daniel Riha (deceased) of Waucoma; and members from the families of Loretta of Fort Atkinson (husband Alex Rausch), both deceased, and Angela of Milwaukee, Wis. (husband William Brannon) also both deceased.
The family of Angela and William Brannon will host the 52nd Riha reunion in 2014.
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