Family and Friends Tee it Up to Honor Local Man and Rainbow Hospice Care

Kenyon Kemnitz
October 16, 2023 / 5 mins read

Family and friends Tee it Up to Honor Local Man and Rainbow Hospice Care

by Kenyon Kemnitz


Alice Salli says that her husband Ted was one in a million.

“He would always make you laugh and liked to have fun and joke around,” said Salli.

And those who had the privilege of knowing him would be quick to agree.

“He was a very loving father and spouse,” said Salli family friend, Amy Johnson. “He was always very kind and funny, and we enjoyed many outings with Ted and his family.”

Ted enjoyed meeting friends at Amado Jr.’s in Watertown for lunch and going to Milwaukee Admirals hockey games.

“If there was a lull in the conversation, he would always be the one stirring the pot again and making a comment to keep the conversation going,” Salli said.

Ted Salli loved to golf. After he retired, you could always find him out on the green working on his golf game.

“Every Monday he would go with our neighbor lady,” Salli said. “Old Hickory in Beaver Dam, or to Mayville, or Horicon, every week they’d be going someplace to golf.”

Ted and Alice were also members at Windwood of Watertown Country Club before it closed at the end of 2018. But they didn’t golf too much while living in Florida.

“We always laughed about that because there was so much more golfing going on in Wisconsin than when we lived there,” Salli said.

Ted had worked third shift for many years at Kissimmee Utility Authority (KUA) in Florida and had more time to golf once he got back on a normal schedule when he took a job at Wisconsin Energies (WE) and moved the family to Wisconsin.


“We always joked that's why we stayed married for so long,” Salli said. “We were married 43 years, and it's because the first 20 he was on third shift, so we never saw each other.”

As much as Ted loved to golf, he loved his family even more. They were by his side when he got sick and stayed with him through the tough times. During the 2022 Christmas season, the Salli family found out that spots on his liver were cancerous and had spread to his kidneys and stomach.

Ted had recovered from bladder cancer ten years ago, so he was prepared to fight. There was no doubt that Ted perfectly encompassed the Finnish spirit of ‘sisu,’ a term that means determination, perseverance, and having courage in adversity. The family did their best to care for Ted at home while he underwent dialysis multiple times a week in Watertown, hoping he could get stronger to begin chemotherapy treatment.

But after a few months, he had been in and out of the hospital and his health continued to decline and he missed being at home. The cancer had taken its toll and after a discussion with a nephrologist, Ted stopped further dialysis at the end of February.

Several weeks before, the Sallis contacted Katy’s Kloset in Waukesha in search of medical equipment to further support Ted. Katy’s Kloset, which began in a small closet and has grown to a 13,000 square-foot warehouse, accepts and lends durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, or scooters, and supplies at no cost to thousands of individuals each year. When people no longer need the equipment, they return it so other families can benefit from the same kindness and continue the pattern of giving back.

“I understand how powerful the right equipment can be in making people independent and safe in their homes,” said Rose Hebar, Executive Director at Team Up! with Families - Katy’s Kloset. We are really impactful for families that need equipment and have no other way of getting it.”

The Salli family decided to choose Rainbow Hospice Care, so Ted could be comfortable at his daughter Katrina’s home during his final days. Besides being a longtime friend of the Salli family, Amy Johnson works as a Nurse Manager at Rainbow and was there to help move Ted into the living area for better accessibility when a hospital bed arrived.

“I stayed to make sure the DME (Durable Medical Equipment) was delivered, and we could move Ted to the main area,” said Johnson. I was so thankful that I was able to assist them in their time of need.”

Ted passed away on Saturday, March 4, 2023. Ted was only on Rainbow Hospice Care services for six days, but his family is thankful for the quality of care he received during a difficult and emotional time.

Like all the people he met, Ted also made a lasting impression on his Rainbow patient care team.

“Ted was very sick by the time I met him but from the moment he smiled at me, I knew he was something special,” said Rainbow Nurse Manager, Sarah Padigireddy. “To hear him tell stories about the life he lived, the courses he’s golfed, and fun times with the family he loved was an experience I will never forget.”

Instead of having a funeral for Ted, the Salli family wanted to do something different to honor him and remember his memory.

“He never liked going to funerals and if friends of his would pass, he’d say ‘No, I’m good, I’ll remember them, how they were,’” Salli said. “We thought a funeral just wasn’t us and wasn’t what he would have gone to or wanted to attend.”

After talking it over, it didn’t take long for them to come up with something they knew Ted would have enjoyed, a golf outing. Alice knows Ted would have given anything to go golfing one more time.

“Ted and I would go to golf outings and fundraisers to support people and causes and that was kind of his way of being able to give back,” Salli said.

That idea soon became a reality and led to over five months of planning from Ted’s two daughters, Katrina and Kim, and his son-in-law, Ryan. Even though it took a lot of hard work, they knew they made the right decision. Taking the time to finalize all the details turned out to be just as fun.

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“It kind of just evolved and the more we talked about it, the more excited we got, and it was a lot of fun remembering and going through pictures to set it all up,” Salli said.

It all culminated with a celebration of life for Ted Salli on Saturday, August 26 at Old Hickory Golf Course in Beaver Dam.

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Family and friends who knew Ted best could sponsor a hole and add a picture of Ted or a saying or something they remembered about Ted on the sponsorship sign. Over 80 people signed up for 18 holes of golf, while others who didn’t want to be out on the fairway could toss a few bean bags around in a tournament. More than double that amount showed up for a dinner buffet, and all the guests had a chance to bid on raffle prizes and share memories about Ted. All the money the Sallis raised ended up going to two causes that helped Ted the most through his end-of-life journey.


Rainbow's Carol Brown (VP of Quality & Clinical Operations), and Kate Trapp (RN Case Manager/Team Leader for Dodge County) attend the Ted Salli Memorial Golf Outing. Not pictured but also present was Kate Stauffacher (Rainbow Supportive Care Services Manager).

A couple weeks before the event, Alice called Rainbow to share her family's fundraising plans and the organization was surprised and humbled by their generosity. A group of Rainbow staff members then got the chance to attend the outing and pay their respects. The Salli family raised $3,700 for Rainbow Hospice Care. They also raised the same amount for Katy’s Kloset and presented each organization with a check.


The Sallis present their donation to Rainbow staff at the RHC Inpatient Center in Johnson Creek. Pictured in back are Brandi Heller (RN- Admissions), Laura Wessels (Bereavement Coordinator/Chaplain), Angie Zastrow (Director of Nursing), Carol Brown (VP of Quality & Clinical Operations), Sarah Frick (Admissions & Triage Manager), Jessica Miller (Foundation Administrative Assistant), Rebakah Bopp (Executive Assistant), and Kate Trapp (RN Case Manager/Team Leader - Dodge County). Pictured in front are Ryan Costello, Kim Salli Costello, Alice Salli, and Katrina Salli.

“Like Ted, his family shares our passion for community service,” said Carol Brown, Rainbow’s Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer. “Their idea to intertwine Ted’s celebration of life with an act of giving back to the community was incredible. I am grateful to have witnessed the stories of love and a life well lived, but all too short. It reminds me of the impact of our efforts and inspires us to continue our important work.”

“It just made sense because Rainbow is part of our community,” Salli said. “Even though his time was short with Rainbow, they definitely helped Ted that last week. And every time we picked up the phone, Katy’s Kloset had what we needed.”


The Sallis visit Katy's Kloset to present their donation check.

Alice and Ted were familiar with Rainbow, having golfed in its annual golf outing for years. They also knew several friends in the community who had loved ones cared for by Rainbow. Alice worked at Berres Brothers Coffee in Watertown for 15 years and remembers the company’s strong support for Rainbow’s mission. Berres Brothers has organized a 5k Grogg run/walk to benefit Rainbow in the past, along with a burger/chili fundraiser, and designed two different Rainbow-themed coffee bags. Alice and Ted even sold those Rainbow coffee bags when they attended the West Bend Farmer’s Market together each week.

Rainbow is thankful to be included with Katy’s Kloset in the Salli’s donation. Volunteers were instrumental in founding both non-profit organizations and continue to thrive by helping those in the community, especially when they need it the most.

“We are grateful to Ted, his family, and friends for their generosity in supporting us, Katy’s Kloset, and those facing serious illness in our community,” Brown said.

“The Sallis are a special family and I thought it was incredibly generous to be beneficiaries of their kind gift,” Hebar said. “Rainbow and Katy’s Kloset are both doing good in the world in so many ways.”

For the Salli family, knowing it was time for hospice wasn’t about giving up or Ted’s life ending in defeat. It was about finding their own “hole in one”- a final gift for Ted and for everyone lucky enough to know him.

“We had a good four and a half to five months to memorialize Ted instead of rushing to have a funeral in one to two weeks,” Salli said. “I don’t know if it made it any easier, but it was a better way for us to come to terms that he’s gone.”

There is no doubt there will be a noticeable void in the lives of the Salli family that no one can fill. But Ted won’t be forgotten. They know he’s probably having a wonderful time playing golf somewhere right now.