For Lake Geneva siblings, a long-awaited home coming

Family reunites after 30 years

(Published October. 13, 2006, 8:38 a.m.)

By Chris Schultz/Janesville Gazette

When Glover Wells heard that his little sister Rose was alive and looking for her siblings, he fell to the floor.

Wells received a phone call a week ago from a woman claiming to be the friend of Rose Druescher. She asked if Wells was from an adopted family. He replied he wasn't, but that he had two sisters-Rose and Madeline-who had been adopted.

Wells told the caller that if the Rose she knew had brothers named James and Glover and sisters named Peggy and Barb, then she was, in fact, his sister.

When the caller confirmed the relationship, Wells collapsed.

He couldn't get up for nearly a half hour, he said.

A week ago Tuesday, after a nine-hour, 600-mile drive from western Minnesota, 40-year-old Rose met with her siblings for the first time in about 30 years.

On a sunny, almost summer-like afternoon, Rose and her surviving brothers and sisters gathered near the graves of their mother, a brother and a sister at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Rose's friend, Julie Gevick of Fertile, Minn., moved among the family members, recording the scene with a small video camera. She refers to herself as Rose's "Minnesota sister," having met her when Rose took a job at a restaurant owned by Gevick's family.

It has been about 30 years since the Wells children were split by social services and sent to foster homes, said Rose's oldest sister, Peggy Opper of Lake Geneva.

The story began when Beulah Rose Wells, the children's mother, took them and ran away from an abusive husband in Florida, Peggy said. The family stopped in Kentucky and then Arkansas, but both Beulah's husband tracked them down.

Originally born in Tomah, Beulah returned to Wisconsin to seek sanctuary in her home state. It was Beulah's parents who called social services when they decided she could no longer provide adequate care for her eight children.

One day in 1971, the Wells children got off the school bus in front of their Waukesha home to find five cars. One belonged to their grandfather, and the others were from social services. The kids were packed into the cars and taken to foster homes, Peggy said.

The older children-Peggy, Julie, James, Joseph, Glover and Barb-maintained contact with each other and with their mother. The family stayed close.

Today, Glover lives in Plainfield. Peggy, James Wells and Barb Wells reside in the Lake Geneva area. Joseph Wells and sister Julie Hubred share a gravesite with their mother at Oak Hill.

But the two youngest sisters, Madeline and Rose, disappeared from their siblings' lives.

After spending five years in a West Bend foster home, the two were put up for adoption. They eventually joined the Druescher family in Manitowoc, where Rose said their adoptive father was a draftsman at an engineering company and their mother a data processor at a hospital.

The Drueschers weren't rich, but they led a comfortable life, Rose said.

The older Wells children never forgot about their sisters. In fact, it was James who started searching for his sisters 22 years ago, after they both had passed the age of 18.

But eight years ago the adoption agency told James both his sisters were dead, so he stopped searching.

Peggy said she and others in the family went as far as to call several television shows that dealt with real-life mysteries, hoping they might be able to help. None could, she said.

In the meantime, Rose was conducting her own search.

When Rose turned 18 in 1984, she hired a private investigator to track down her family. But after spending four months and $5,000, the investigator admitted to Rose that he'd found nothing.

Rose said her adoptive mother discouraged her and Madeline from searching for their birth family, but her adoptive father's dying wish was that she continue.

Madeline doesn't seem to have the desire to see her brothers and sisters again, Rose said. Peggy said she's corresponded with Madeline and plans to continue to keep in touch.

James said these days it seems the family only gets together for funerals.

"This is a good reason to get together," he said.

After about 45 minutes of sharing memories, jokes and a few tears, the grown children gathered around the family headstones for pictures. Joining them were Julie Hubred's son, Jeremy; Peggy's future son-in-law, Richard Wolf, and her 3-year-old granddaughter, Caitlyn.

Eventually, they all loaded into two pickups and Rose's station wagon to head out to Jeremy's house near Lake Como for a cookout.

"I'm just glad this happened," Peggy said.

 

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