age 102 years and 9 months, was born into eternal life on Friday, December 7, 2018 at the Hart Park Square Senior Community in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.
Bessie was born on March 25, 1916 to Edmund Campbell and Josephine Campbell (NEE Thorsen).
She was baptized at the then new Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church on Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee. Interestingly, Bessie was the first baby to be baptized in the church’s new Baptismal Fond and she was especially proud to be part of the celebration of Redeemer’s 100th Anniversary. In fact, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel told Bessie’s and the Church’s story in a feature story titled “A Century After Her Christening, Woman Celebrates Redeemer Lutheran Church’s Centennial” published on February 19, 2017.
She attended the Wisconsin Avenue Grade School and graduated from West Division High School.
Bessie was a Registered Beautician and worked at the Alice Wilke Beauty Shop located on 27th and Fond du Lac Avenue in Milwaukee for many years.
On March 25, 1945 Bessie was united in marriage to Archie R. Bray at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Bessie and Archie, who met at a mutual friend’s cottage on Okauchee Lake, had been planning their wedding, but, as they say, a war got in the way, and couple decided to wait until he returned from the war.
Archie was a highly decorated U.S. Army Sgt. who led a heavy machine gun team from Company H, 128th Infantry Regiment of the legendary Wisconsin 32nd (Red Arrow) Infantry Division during ferocious military operations against the Japanese in New Guinea, Papuan and the South Philippines. The history of this elite military unit was chronicled in the book, The Ghost Mountain Boys, published by Crown Publishers.
Bessie was preceded in death by her husband, Archie in 1980; Archie’s parents John and Elsie Bray; her parents Edmund and Josephine Campbell; her brother, Robert Campbell; her son, David Bray; and her daughter, Patricia Simmons.
Bessie is survived by son John (Karen) of Duluth, Minnesota, sister-in-law Verna Campbell; nephews Bruce Campbell (Julie) and Ricardo Campbell; niece Mary Campbell; grandchildren Randy Simmons, Tim (Samantha) Simmons, Jesse Bray, Emily Bray (Jacob Eckwright); great grandchildren Owen, Cain, Desmond, Luna and Harley.
Bessie’s family sincerely thanks Kathy Beltman, Executive Director of the Hart Park Square Senior Community and her extraordinary staff, My Choice Family Care—especially Case Manager, Lindsey Krause, Vitas Home Hospice, Mary Norman, Carol York, Maureen Lloyd, and Rev. Dr. Lisa Bates-Froiland, Pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church and the entire congregation of the church for their warm and compassionate friendship and care of Bessie.
There will be a Memorial Service for Bessie in the Spring at the Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1905 W. Wisconsin Avenue; Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Notice for Bessie’s Memorial Service will be published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the appropriate time.
After her Memorial Service, there will be a private inurnment at the Wisconsin Memorial Park where Bessie will lie in rest next to her dearly beloved Archie.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made in honor of Bessie to the Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1905 W. Wisconsin Avenue; Milwaukee, Wi 53233.
Becker Ritter Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Brookfield, Wisconsin is managing arrangements.