Obituary: Renee “Peppy” M. Tong Hilander

April 1, 1943 – March 15, 2019 

Peppy Tong Hilander, 75, of Sturgeon Bay died at St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay with her family by her side.

She was born Renee M. Tong in Sturgeon Bay, the daughter of the late Leo and Jean (Lake) Tong. Following her Catholic school education, Peppy graduated from Sturgeon Bay High School before attending college.

She was a talented bartender before going to work for Child Support services in Pima County, Arizona, then as an administrative clerk for the Tucson, Arizona, assessor’s office until her retirement. After retiring, Peppy moved back to Sturgeon Bay to be near her extended family.

You could say Peppy was known for dabbling in “a lot of things.” Some would say she was the most down-to-earth person they ever met. All in all, she was a Tong, snarky and spirited to the end, finding a reason to laugh at anything. She laughed even though Peppy lived with a diagnosis of cancer for over 12 years. She enjoyed reading mysteries and sci-fi and working needlepoint.  

Survivors include her three children, Kelly Hilander Mattern of Glendale, Arizona, Carrie Hilander Ehring of Dayton, Ohio, and Joel Hilander of Maricopa, Arizona; seven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; her dear Tong and Lake families; and many fondly remembered nieces, nephews and cousins.

Preceding her in death were her parents, Leo and Jean Tong; and her son-in-law, Kevin Ehring.

At Peppy’s request, there will be no services.

Huehns Funeral Home and Door County Crematory is assisting Peppy’s family. Expressions of sympathy, memories and photos of her life can be shared through her tribute page at

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