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Bellville Times



Just two days before her 94th birthday, Viola Raeke Spiess went to be with her Lord.

She was born on Jan. 12, 1915, in Rockhouse, Texas, near Industry, to William and Katie Bohmfalk Raeke.

After graduating in 1932 from Fayetteville High School as the valedictorian of her class, she attended Blinn College and Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos to receive her degree and certification as a teacher. She also attended the University of Texas in Austin and Sam Houston State University in Huntsville during her years of teaching. 

She began her 39-year teaching career in the Abbotts Grove school near Schulenburg; in following years, she taught at County Line School in eastern Fayette County. She then moved back to the Austin County area to teach at Rockhouse, Schoenau, Henkhouse, and West End-Industry schools.

After taking out 10 years to raise her daughters, she resumed her teaching career at Fayetteville ISD, where she remained for 21 years, retiring in 1981 to enjoy taking care of her grandchildren.

Throughout her career, she saw many changes in the development of education and its system. She was always innovative in her teaching and far ahead of her time in many respects. She worked tirelessly to provide her students with knowledge and skills to take them through life. 

On Aug. 31, 1939, she married Melvin R. Spiess of Brenham, and they made their home near Industry. They had two daughters.

Viola and Melvin were life-long members of the Industry United Methodist Church, where Viola served as choir director for 60 years, following in her mother’s footsteps. She also served for many years as the superintendent of the Sunday school and as Sunday school teacher of a class she taught in the German language. 

Music was a hobby which quickly became her avocation. In addition to teaching school full time, Viola taught private piano, organ and voice to between 40 and 50 students a week during most of her life. She devoted her after school hours and Saturdays and summers to her music students. She even traveled to area churches, teaching her students to play the organ; she is responsible for providing organists and musicians in various denominations of churches in the area. She also spent time training choirs in those churches. She loved her students and her music and was always ready to witness to the love of her Lord through her music. 

She was a life member of the Texas State Teachers Association, serving a term as president in Fayette County; she was a member of the West End Home Demonstration Club and a charter member of the Industry-West End Lioness Club and the Industry-West End Historical Association. 

She is lovingly survived by her two daughters, Sharon Spiess and Yvonne Wait and her husband, Russell, of Industry, and two grandchildren, Michael Drab and Andrea Drab of Industry; by special friends, Brenda Tonn of New Ulm and Tomi Beth Sappington of Brenham; special caretakers, Lisa Galle and Willie Mae King of Industry; sisters-in-law, Esther Spiess of Brenham, Leona Luedeker of New Ulm, Betty Spiess of Wimberley, and Florence Raeke of Industry; many devoted nieces and nephews; three very special great nephews and niece, Dillon Galle and Ben and Emily Shupak; and a host of caring former students, friends, and church family. 

She was preceded in death by her husband in 2003, by her parents, and by her three brothers, Herman, Edwin and Alwin Raeke; three sisters-in-law, Julia Raeke, Thusnelda Raeke, and Mildred Sommerfeld; and three brothers-in-law, Emanuel Sommerfeld, Ervin (Dick) Spiess, and Waldo Luedeker. 

Memorials may be given to the Industry United Methodist Church, PO Box 86, Industry, Texas 78944, or to the Brazos Valley Hospice, 302 E. Blue Bell Road, Brenham, Texas 77833.

Her family wishes to thank all who have enriched Viola¢s life in so many ways and have allowed her to serve them as she witnessed to her faith

Posted by Joy Neely


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