Below is this past Tuesday’s Knowsy Neighbor. I will be pasting the whole piece below as much was edited out. But please see the version on Patch HERE and leave comments for the Sustacheks.

In the year 1900, Rasmussen Jewelry opened their doors on 910 State Street. And, locally, to this day if you hear the question, “Where did you get the gorgeous ring?” the answer will quite often be, “Rasmussen’s”.

Founded by RP Rasmussen, the store has been a mainstay in Racine for over a century. In 1977, Cal and Marilyn Sustachek acquired the store, located then at 3119 Washington Avenue. They sold it to their son,William Sustachek, and his wife, Kathleen in 1988. 1n 1994, the name of the shop changed to Rasmussen Diamonds, it moved down the road to 6220 Washington Avenue and continues to successfully operate and please customers today.

However, something is changing and a new occasion in Rasmussen Diamonds’ history will be added to the time-line. William (Bill) and Kathleen (Kathy) will be retiring after over 20 years in the business. Their son in law and now President, Joel Hassler, will be taking over the business.

“The time is right and Joel is definitely ready,” Kathy boasts.

This business was a long time dream of Bill’s from his days as a child with an extensive rock collection. Eventually he was introduced to gemology and he was swallowed by a passion which would end up being lifelong. Bill is a “dreamer”, as Kathy puts it, and he simply made his dream come true.

He spent much time gathering accreditation which put him in an elite crowd within the Jewelry industry. After college, Bill graduated from The Gemological Institute of America as a Registered Jeweler and Certified Gemologist. He also became a Certified Gemologist Appraiser – which makes him about 1 in 400 world wide.

Kathy wasn’t quite as certain this dream of Bill’s could manifest. However, she became convinced after raising 5 children and working part time in the store. She developed into a vital role within the business and became a Registered Jeweler with The American Gem Society. Through the years she has enjoyed the connection she is able to share with the customers. At work, she is surrounded by family – both by blood and by heart.

The decision to retire was not an easy one to make. “The business has been our life for so long, it would be very difficult to just walk away without looking back,” Kathy expresses, “So both of us will continue to support Joel in various aspects of this wonderful business.”

Kathy also conveys that they would miss the customers, many of whom have become friends over the years. So they will still come into the store occasionally…but when they want to, not when they have to.

Bill and Kathy hope to make the most of their new found freedom by enjoying time with their large family which includes 9 grandchildren! Kathy is often asked if the reason for retirement is due to their moving from Racine. She quickly replies, “We most surely are not! Our wonderful family is here!!”

Bill is also a musician and will spend more time strummin’ the guitar and they will both indulge in travel while simply loving life.

The memories fill their hearts as they approach a new path. Kathy fondly recalls a customer she once had.

“A man entered the store very happy and with his arms extended he declared that he needed the biggest diamond we had. But it was not the size of the diamond that made this a special moment. It was the fact that he was celebrating his wife being cancer free.”

More than two decades within walls containing such joy and emotion has decorated The Sustacheks’ hearts. Purchasing jewelry is often brought about by a special event in one’s life. Kathy and Bill feel blessed to have been able to be a part of so many happy, exciting and life altering moments.

What is clear, more than anything, is the fact that family is the foundation, purpose and beacon for this couple. Loyal trust in their beloved predecessor, cherished time with those they adore, pride in the ethics they have instilled in their children…this is what matters to Bill and Kathy Sustachek. This is what comforts them through challenging times and graceful changes. This is what carries them into joyful moments and lands them gently after deserved successes. 

“I wear a bracelet which hosts gemstones representing each of my grandchildren. They know that the gemstones are theirs. I wish for the bracelet to be torn apart after I die and jewelry to be made with those very stones for each of them.”

While those stones are no doubt clear and brilliant – what will shine forever is the legacy of love they have shared with their family, friends and customers for so many years.

Best wishes to The Sustacheks and congratulations on your retirement after countless years of remarkable service.


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