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Joseph Guenther, 81, Wisconsin

Joseph Guenther, 81, Wisconsin, obituary

Joseph Guenther was born into eternal life on May 29, 2023, surrounded by his beloved family.

He was born Aug. 15, 1941, in Sheboygan, Wis., to Joseph and Amelia (Brussok) Guenther. He attended Saint Peter Claver Elementary and Central High School. He participated in Boy Scouts and was a member of the local gymnastics club, where his specialty was the trampoline. He was also a lifeguard on the shores of Lake Michigan, which he truly hated. He then attended the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where he received a degree in technology education in 1963. Joseph began teaching woodworking, welding, and mechanical drafting in the Whitnall School District in the fall of 1963, and coached gymnastics. He was the auditorium manager and a water safety instructor, teaching swimming lessons with the Red Cross for many years. He was the chief negotiator for the Whitnall Federation of Teachers and went on to serve for two years as vice president of the Wisconsin Federation of Teachers.

After meeting each other on a blind date in 1963, he married JoAnn Cvengros in 1965. They had three children together, a daughter who died at birth, and two sons, Peter and Paul. Not only did Joseph and JoAnn have a mutual love of teaching, they also had a love of adventure, which they shared with their boys.

Travel around the United States and Canada was a normal occurrence for Joseph and his family, and he cherished the outdoors any season of the year. He was an avid golfer, hiker, skier, backpacker, fisherman, and snowmobiler. He found deer in the northwoods to be beautiful, and he just did not have the heart to take up hunting. Joe and JoAnn bought their infamous lake home, Snoclaf North, in northern Wisconsin in the late 1980s. This home became a labor of love for Joseph, for he and his wife would put hours into the building and finishing of their retirement oasis.

Joseph retired from teaching in 1997, after 35 years as an educator. He permanently moved to his home in northern Wisconsin. He joined the Manitowish Waters Lions Club and the Presque Isle/Winchester Sno-Bunnies Snowmobile Club, where he groomed snowmobile trails. He spent numerous years traveling to Mexico with the Lions to fit glasses in some of their poorest communities. He was always behind the grill or griddle at any fundraising event. In 2007, Joseph was honored as the Lions Citizen of the Year, and Melvin Jones Fellow in 2009 for meritorious humanitarian service. He never stopped traveling, and spent several springs in Eufala, Ala., eventually becoming an annual snowbird in Tucson, Ariz.

Joseph had an amazing gift for engaging conversation. He was a ferocious debater. He was a more powerful listener than he was a speaker. He had a quick wit and dry sense of humor, and his beller of a laugh would fill the largest of rooms. You always knew where Jolly Joe was. He was a passionate friend to all who knew him. True to his values, he cherished and loved family most of all. The gift of time together doing the simplest things brought an instant smile.

Amidst loss, Joseph always persevered. He was a pay-it-forward person; an unselfish soul who should have worn a shirt that said, “Keep Calm and Let Joe Handle It.” He was a builder, creator, problem solver, and Mr. Fix-It. He chose to live his challenging life as a role model of dignity, grace, and positivity. He was a man rooted in the selfless service to others. He taught us all to be true to yourself and to never stop giving.

Joseph is survived by his son, Peter (Holly) Guenther, grandchildren Carly (Aaron) Hahn, Ryan (Elana) Guenther, Brandon Guenther, Max Guenther, Evan Guenther, Colin Guenther, Lauren Guenther, Megan Guenther, and six great-grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his wife, JoAnn (Cvengros) Guenther, an infant daughter, son Paul Guenther, parents Joseph and Amelia (Brussok) Guenther, brother James Guenther, and sister-in-law Judy Guenther.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, June 5, 2023, from 5-7 p.m. at Brick-Meger Funeral Home, 1603 Austin Road, in Owatonna. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, June 8, 2023, at 1 p.m. at Saint Mary Faith Community, 9520 West Forest Home

Ave., Hales Corners, Wis., with a Visitation beginning at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee.

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