Audrey was born on November 14, 1924 to John and Kathryn (Wilcox) Claassen in Weyauwega. She was the youngest daughter of seven children. As a child, Audrey liked to have fun and was known to be a little mischievous at times, earning her the nickname “Naudy Audy”. Audrey loved music. She played in the family band and passed that love of music onto her children. After high school, she met Francis “Bud” Vander Heyden. They married in July of 1943 and built a house in New London, where they raised four children, Don, Kathy, Jon and Patti Jo. After 32 years of marriage, Bud was unexpectedly called home to rest. Aside from being a homemaker, Audrey had worked outside the home, including factory work and driving school bus. Using the talents she obtained from her parents, she started her own business- Vander Heyden Decorating. After deciding to move up to the family cottage in Antigo, she passed the business on to her son Jon. She became a snowbird, spending her winters in Naples, FL. Audrey loved to Polka dance, earning her 14 competition trophies. It was at one of those dances, that she met Larry Butalla. He danced his way into her heart and they were united in marriage on February 14, 1987. Together they had many adventures until her health problems prompted her to want to stay in Wisconsin to be closer to her family. Larry became Audrey’s caretaker. He was by her side when she lost her battle to Parkinson’s disease on October 8, 2016- just one month short of her 92nd birthday.
Audrey is survived by her husband, Larry, Antigo; children, Donald (Marilyn) Vander Heyden, Clovis, CA; Kathryn Bower, Buda, TX; Jon (Tammy) Vander Heyden, New London and Patti Jo (Jeff) Knudson, Elk Mound; grandchildren, Josie DeHardt, Theresa (Rob) Plummer, Jason (Karen) Vander Heyden, Andrea (Bryan) Carter, Kaleb Vander Heyden, Angel (Ben) Davidson, Derek Griesbach, Heath (Jessie) Griesbach, Destry Griesbach and Shane Griesbach; step-grandchildren, Eddie Bower and Luke Knudson-Wirth; step-children, Paul Butalla (special friend Amy), Antigo; Rita Berendt (special friend Craig), Wausau and Bill Butalla (special friend Tara), Merrill and their children. Audrey is further survived by sisters-in-law, Shirley Claassen and Linda Claassen, numerous nieces, nephews, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Audrey is preceded in death by her parents; husband Francis “Bud” Vander Heyden; sisters, Ruth, Delores “Tina” and Lucille “Ceillie” and brothers, Ken, Keith and Ardren.
A Celebration of Life service for Audrey will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at First Congregational United Church of Christ (110 E. Hancock St.) in New London. Rev. Greg Watling will be officiating. Visitation will take place from 9 a.m. until the time of the service at the church. Burial will be at Floral Hill Cemetery in New London. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Parkinson’s research. The Cline & Hanson Funeral Home in New London is serving the family. www.clinehansonfuneralhome.com