Lena Blaser Burtschi, 86, died Monday, Feb. 18.
She was a longtime resident of Oakdale. She was a beloved ‘Mutti’ (mother), and ‘Grossmutti’ (grandmother) and was loved by her family, friends and the community.
She was born in Fribourg, Switzerland to Hans and Rosa Blaser. Her young life was growing up on the family farm with her six sisters and two brothers. She loved working outdoors with her father as the tom-girl (papa’s girl) of the family. She often shared wonderful stories of her childhood memories with her children and grandchildren. She attended the Swiss/French culinary school and was an outstanding cook.
She met and married Henry Burtschi and together they immigrated to America in 1950. They were married for 62 years and together they raised five children, and had a productive and colorful life maintaining the family ranch and trucking business.
Mrs. Burtschi was a vibrant woman and always gave generously of herself to family, friends and the community. She not only raised her children but cared for the grandchildren with the same special love, warmth and affection. Each child and grandchild had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland with her to visit family, friends and the farm where she was raised. She would also support her children and grandchildren at every event whether it was football, soccer, wrestling, rodeo, piano, 4-H, or FFA. She would always host and gather the family at her home, providing traditional Swiss meals. She always included friends in the community to the festivities, providing everyone a sense of belonging and comfort in her home. As well as opening her home, she would provide dinners in Oakdale for community gatherings and fundraisers. Because of this, she was known in town as everyone’s ‘Mutti’ and dear friend.
Along with her passion for entertainment, Mrs. Burtschi was also known to share her yodeling talents at any given event. She was a lifelong member of the San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club and the San Joaquin Swiss Echoes. She enjoyed singing special songs from her homeland with the singing group each spring and fall. She often had solo yodels and brought the culture of Switzerland alive. She was also an active member of the Oakdale Christian Community Church and the Oakdale Saddle Club. She and her husband Henry were honored as Grand Marshals during the Oakdale Rodeo in 2010.
Her reputation for hosting international visitors at the ranch was also well known. People would stop to vacation at her house because of the great hospitality and wonderful and unique accommodations she provided, ensuring they had a memorable stay.
She will be greatly missed by many who have shared their lives and experienced her endearing love.
She is survived by her children, Fred (Julie) Burtschi, Susi Burtschi Leslie, Rudi Burtschi, Hans Burtschi, all of Oakdale; grandchildren, Cory, Gary Burtschi, Joshua Leslie, Dani Leslie, Lena Lee, John Gumbert, Rudi Burtschi Jr., Evan Burtschi, Harlee Burtschi, Jacob Burtschi; and five great-grandchildren, Jaelyn Lee, Payton Burtschi, Caden Burtschi, Morgan, Maddison.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Henry Burtschi; son, Daniel Burtschi; and daughter-in-law, Micki Burtschi.
A memorial honoring her life will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 8 at the Oakdale Community Christian Reformed Church, 131 West F. St., Oakdale. Dinner will follow at the Ripon Swiss Hall, on the corner of East Main Street and Manley Road, Ripon.