|Death: ||Jul. 1, 2012|
Descended from a long line of sausage makers, Debra Usinger was a history buff who relished upholding her family's historical roots to the eponymous business on Old World 3rd St.
Debra Usinger made sure the retail store next to Usinger's Sausage Co. maintained its turn-of-the-last-century feel with marble counters and murals and oversaw the popular catalog of the family business.
Debra Usinger, of Cedarburg, died Sunday from cancer. She was 58.
"She really loved to adhere to the historical aspect of what we did," said her brother Fritz Usinger, the company's president.
"Obviously, growing up with the business and our whole history, it was really important for her to honor our predecessors. That meant maintaining the heritage formulas and telling the story," Fritz Usinger said.
Both Debra and Fritz spent their summers working at Usinger's Sausage Co. while they were in high school and college, becoming the fourth generation of sausage makers in the business started by their great-grandfather Fred Usinger, who arrived in Milwaukee in the late 1870s.
Debra Usinger earned a degree in American studies from Albion College in Albion, Mich. After graduating from Albion, she worked at a small college in Kentucky and then had a brief stint as an Amtrak waitress on cross-country routes out of Chicago where she indulged her passion for travel.
In the early 1980s she returned to the family business and was in charge of Usinger's Sausage Works, a restaurant in the food court of Grand Avenue Mall, for several years. When Usinger's did not renew its lease and closed the restaurant, Debra Usinger moved back to the plant on 3rd St., where she handled the firm's catalogs, mail order and Internet sales businesses and retail store.
As director of retail operations and corporate services, Debra Usinger designed catalogs, dreamed up various gift assortments and gift boxes, oversaw styling of advertising photos of Usinger products and handled customer service. She was also in charge of large corporate clients.
When asked if his sister had a favorite Usinger's sausage, Fritz Usinger laughed and said, "That's like asking 'Who is your favorite child?' "
However, he did say Debra Usinger was fond of saucisschen, a coiled fresh pork sausage on a skewer. It was a tradition in their family for Debra and Fritz to grill saucisschen for breakfast on Christmas mornings.
Debra Usinger was a passionate supporter of Milwaukee's downtown and was active in numerous groups. Among them: Milwaukee County Historical Society, Kiwanis Club of Greater Milwaukee, Better Business Bureau, Westown Association, Milwaukee Riverwalk District, Old World Third Street Association, Private Industry Council of Milwaukee County, City of Milwaukee Holiday Tree Commission and the Pabst Mansion board.
Downtown Milwaukee has "always been our home. We always wanted to make downtown a better place," Fritz Usinger said.
Forest Home Cemetery
Created by: FLCC
Record added: Jul 03, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 92970791