by Richard LaBrosse
Theresa Flatley was a lifelong resident of Oconto County. She was born January 24th, 1869, the daughter of the Peter and Anna Plain, early pioneers of the town of Stiles. She was the first little girl to board and attend St. Joseph's convent school in Oconto. Her marriage to Mr. W. A. Flatley, also a member of a pioneer family, took place in Milwaukee June 1897. The couple returned to the Oconto/Oconto Falls and resided there their remainder of their lives. Mr. Flatley conducted a furniture and funeral service, and he was assisted his wife. After his death April 4, 1939, she carried on the business with her son and daughter. The Flatley's also managed the local branch of the Wisconsin Telephone Company, and Theresa Flatley was chief operator for many years.
She was interested and took an active part in every community project, and her membership was always an active one. Charter memberships and holding of office of president marked her affiliation with the Christian Mother's Society of Anthony's Church, the Royal Neighbor lodge (made up of pioneer women of the county), the Maccabees, and in that organization she was a captain of the drill team, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Library Board and the Woman's Club. During the years of the depression, she did outstanding work for the Auxiliary by having Community birthday parties, and aIso during this period she was a counselor of the Junior and Senior Catholic Youth Organizations. Her Club activities included offices in the district and state federations. She was faithful in her attendance at meetings of the Catholic Diocese for Women. One of her yearly services to the Legion and Auxiliary was to the memorial service at the river and to make the poppy decked anchor, which was floated on the Lake Michigan waters in memory of the men who died at sea.
Mrs. Flatley's interest and participation in the entertainment during the last day of her life was most indicative of her character. Herself an excellent actress, she loved to direct plays and her productions were always outstanding and out of the amateur class, with hand painted scenery and authentic costumes. Two plays in particular are still remembered, "The Soul of Ann Rutledge", and a Passion Play given at Easter Time. The entertainment in which she participated that last Thursday evening of her life was an April, 1948, review named "Fun For You". She played the role of a Civil War mother. The play was repeated on Friday evening, after her death, with her role left vacant. Tribute was paid to her at that time, and she was also named a "Good Neighbor" and a bouquet of American Beauty Roses sent to her.
In her last few years Theresa Flatley's keenest interest and hobby was the Oconto County Historical Society, and the County Museum. Just prior to her death, she had been re-elected as director of the Society and was engaged in the compilation of county history, and also her church.
Mrs. Flatley was deeply interested in Wisconsin's Centennial year of 1948, and had made many plans. In fact she had her whole year planned. She was to take her granddaughters to the Centennial program at Lena on the Friday afternoon. Theresa Flatley suffered a fatal stroke early that Friday morning (April 25th) .
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