Kaul Funeral Home


Renata "Renee" (Chiarani) Zielke

21 February, 194621 October, 2020

Renee (Renata) Zielke – February 21, 1946 to October 20, 2020

Apparently God rather abruptly realized he needed the help of a strong, opinionated, take-no-prisoners woman to ensure heaven is being run properly, because, on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, at 11:00 pm, he reached out for the one person perfectly suited for the job, Renee (Renata) Zielke. Unfortunately, that leaves those of us here on earth to struggle with the very large hole in our lives left by her absence, and to try and put into words meeting the obituary guidelines some small indication of who she was and what she meant to us.

The child of Natalia and Carlo Chiarani, she emigrated with her parents and younger siblings – twin brothers, Mario and Luigi (no joke), and sister, Maria Theresa – from the staggeringly beautiful Northern Italian region of Trentino to Detroit in 1954. This family set the standard for full force living – loving ferociously, protecting unreservedly, arguing loudly, talking passionately and without any filters. The entire spectrum turned up to 11. At a wedding in 1960, she met James Michael Zielke, a clarinet playing, skinny tie wearing iconoclast, and that was that. They were joined together and remained that way through the good, the bad, the ups, the downs, the whole shimmering, irrepressible, beautiful, stunning catastrophic experience that marked their lives together. They welcomed their three children, Kim, Kevin (Jennifer), and Kristen (Greg) into the world and all were indoctrinated into the ethos of family first, last and always. The five of them grew up together. Laughs were frequent and plentiful, and the fights, when they inevitably happened, were epic, but not enduring (By the way, Mom – just because you died doesn't mean you were right! We'll talk about it when we are all back together). Renee gave her kids all she had and, no matter what, they never doubted the strength of her love for each of them.

That love, the hallmark of every great mother, propelled each of them into their lives, leading to what turned out to be Renee's greatest joy – her four granddaughters, Sydney and Erica Bigelow and Zoe and Ila Zielke. Renee took the role of Nonna to a new level – almost making it a competitive sport. She never missed an opportunity to be with them, to marvel at their accomplishments, to bake the cookies that cannot be named in a family publication, to jump in as last minute babysitter, and to travel vast distances to attend a dance recital, musical performance, horse show, or other event no matter how small or large (always applauding the longest and loudest). Her devotion to "her girls" was unmatched and they each carry a huge part of her with them as they move forward in their lives.

Renee was preceded in death by her father, Carlo, and her older brother, known with deep affection as "Primo GiGi". She was one-of-a-kind, will be sorely missed by all who knew her, and her legend will only grow as stories about her are shared with those not lucky enough to be in that group. Grazie mille, Renata, Momma, Nonna – until we meet again!

While no immediate memorial is scheduled, the family is planning a gathering to celebrate her at some point in the future when, hopefully, large raucous gatherings will once again be permitted. Details will be provided via social media when they are available. In the interim, celebrate Renee by laughing loudly swearing with enthusiasm, and making sure those you love are very aware of that fact.

Add a


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Show Your


Renata "Renee" (Chiarani) Zielke

have a memory or condolence to add?

Roger Barham

15 November 2020

Renee and I dated briefly in high school. A wonderful girl. Always cheerful and happy. I’ll miss her. 💙💙😥

Richard Heinz

27 October 2020

Mike sorry to hear of Renee's passing. just wanted you to know you will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Daniel Young

26 October 2020

Mike so sorry to hear about your wife’s passing. I did not know her that well but I do know that she was a conversationalist and a woman who had an opinion on a topic that might be the conversation of the day! I liked that about her!
I had spoke to her about a month ago to ask if you were biking at metropark as I think you passed us by on your bike as my wife and I were walking and she said probably! Shocker to hear the sad news!

Chris Brooks

24 October 2020

Dear, dear Renee, We met in 1961, sneaking a cigarette on the way to gym class. From that moment on, we shared many important moments in our lives. You have always been a treasure to me, lifting my spirits when Don was drafted, and encouraged me through four miscarriages. When I finally became a mom, you were right there and I still have the little red and white dress that you brought for my Dawn. I have thousands of memories of you and your unique hospitality. I still can't believe I lost Don and you within three months this year. Hugs to both of you in heaven!

Cookie Prentice

24 October 2020

Renee will always be remembered as a fun loving gal! We traveled and camped together, with our other friends! She was a hoot! fun loving, caring, and she was a gracious hostess! Renee will never be forgotten, she has left everyone with a special part of her to remember! Yes! her grandkids were such a joy for her! Proud Nona!
Renee will be missed and we have a big void but she will never be forgotten!
Love ya Renee!

Cookie Prentice

Mary Maestri Garbaini

23 October 2020

We will always remember her from the various conventions. Our deepest condolences.
Pietro and Mary (Maestri) Garbaini.


Learn more about the Zielke name