Vira Stoner, inspired and inspiring educator at Appleton West High School, passed away at St. Elizabeth Hospital June 23, 2021. Vi was born to Homer and Mabel Klotzbach in Appleton on May 1, 1936. She attended Appleton Public Schools and graduated from Appleton High School.
Vi graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was a member of Chi Sigma lambda sorority. Beginning her teaching career in Chandler, Arizona, she started graduate work at the University of Arizona where she met Alan, her future husband, also a student there. Moving to Stockton, California, she taught at Stagg High School. She and Alan married in 1962 and came to Appleton where she spent the rest of her teaching career at the high school from which she graduated.
It is impossible to overestimate Vi's impact on the school district she served and the students she taught. She advised Orchesis (a modern dance club) and the National Honor Society. She was an innovator who introduced Contemporary Composition and media studies courses. Vi was active in the state media literacy group and promoted that cause however she was able. Students from her classes continued to reach out to her and some stayed in contact until the time of her death. Throughout much of her life her medical and legal professionals were former students. Mentoring student teachers throughout her career prepared them well for their professional lives. While Vi never sought
recognition, she did receive it, including the 1988-89 Appleton Educator of the Year from the Mielke Foundation.
Outside the traditional classroom Vi and Alan were the first house parents for high school-aged boys in A Better Chance (ABC) working with diverse students away from home and family in a completely new environment. Some of these students remained in contact with the Stoners for years afterward, a testament to their affection.
Vi worked with the Mielke Foundation, Appleton Education Association, and the Appleton Education Foundation. Outside of her professional interests she was a member of Kings Daughters Benefit Circle working to raise funds for those in need. Wednesday Club, her longtime literary study group, will remember her as a valued and loved member. Other pastimes included bridge and travel with friends. She looked forward to spring breaks with Alan in Florida (except for the time he accidentally left her at a gas station).
Vi gave generously to causes and charities, both in her home town and her state. She was a lifelong Y supporter and devotee, using its facilities as a respite from her many hours of teaching, preparation, and grading. Swimming, aerobics, and weight training relaxed her. Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) was a staple of information for her and she supported it as well. A longtime library advocate, Vi was currently serving as the 2021 matching donor for Friends of the Appleton Library.
Vi was preceded in death by Alan who died in 2010, her parents, and her aunt Mary (Clifford) Gorges. Family survivors include cousins: Sharon (Jim) Reed, Barbara (Paul) Baldwin, Darcie (Robert) Lehman and their children Brett Romberg, Megan (Adam) Helt-Baldwin, and Devon Lehman. Other cousins include Tom (Claire) Klotzbach.
Her generosity of spirit will not be forgotten by family and far too many friends to name. She was a remarkable woman, teacher, and friend. At her request there will be no service. Memorials are to the Stoner Fund at the Appleton Education Foundation, the Women's Fund, the Friends of the Appleton Library, and Habitat for Humanity, or any other cause which the donor might prefer.
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