Obituaries are a service of Brainard Funeral Home, with locations in Wausau and Weston.

Gary Stengl

Gary R. Stengl, 72, Wausau, died Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.

He was born June 24, 1946, in Marshfield, the son of Jack and Dorothy Stengl. On April 16, 1966, he married Carol Bandle at St. John Lutheran Church-High Steeple, town of Wien. She survives.

Gary Stengl

Gary graduated from Stratford High School in 1964 and the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in 1968. He served in the United States Army from 1968-1970, stationed at Fort Ord, California, during Vietnam. For 34 years, he worked as a computer systems manager at Wausau Insurance Co. and retired at the age of 55. During his working career, Gary enjoyed participating in many company social activities, such as bowling, golfing and basketball. In retirement he played a lot of golf, fixed many computers and clocks for others, and served in many capacities at Trinity Lutheran Church.

The greatest joy in Gary’s life was his family. Gary modeled compassion, love, patience, kindness and service to others. Gary and Carol enjoyed watching sports together, attending Badgers, Brewers and Packers games, but watching his children and later his grandchildren in their activities gave him the greatest joy.

Survivors include the love of his life, Carol Stengl; three sons, Robb (Christy) Stengl, Wausau, Rick (Faith) Stengl, Wausau, and Ryan Stengl, Janesville; four grandchildren, Noah, Benna, Lily and Will; his father, Jack Stengl, Wausau; three sisters, Linda Martin, Bertram, Texas, Barbara (Dale) Carey, Alton, Missouri, and Barbara Stengl, Wisconsin Rapids; his mother-in-law, Genevieve Bandle, Wausau; his sister-in-law, Sandee (John) Schafer, Edgar and many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Dorothy; and his father-in-law, Ray Bandle.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Wausau, with full military honors to follow conducted by the American Legion Montgomery Plant Dudley Post No. 10, Wausau. Rev. Zach Holdorf will officiate. Visitation will be on Friday from 4 – 7 p.m. at Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, 3400 Stewart Ave., Wausau, and again on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until the time of the service at the church. Burial will be on Monday at Restlawn Memorial Park, Wausau.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Trinity Lutheran Church.

Online condolences may be expressed at

James Burish

James G. Burish, 88, Marathon, died Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, at Ascension Saint Clare’s Hospital.

James Burish

He was born July 18, 1930, in Francis Creek, Wisconsin, son of the late Edward and Leora (Jost) Burish. He married Lillian Skrzypcak on Aug. 6, 1955, at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, town of Cassel. She survives him.

When he was 16 years old, he got his first job at the Edgar Basket Factory. Shortly afterward, he started working for Albert Mandel Cheese Factory in Colby, Wisconsin. A little later, he worked for Seeman Cheese Factory for three years in Loyal, Wisconsin. While he was at Seeman’s, he got his cheesemakers license (while only 18 years old). He then worked for Zimmerman’s Cheese factory in the town of Marathon. In 1951, he made cheese for about 10 years at Pine Valley Co-Op, Edgar. He then made cheese for Pauly Cheese Co., Edgar, for about one year. In 1962, James and Lillian bought their own cheese factory 4 miles south of Marathon and changed the name to Marathon Cheese Factory. In about 1968, he started growing ginseng with help from his brothers John and Kenny. He continued operating the cheese factory and growing ginseng until 1978, when he closed the cheese factory to grow ginseng only. In the fall of 1994 he planted his last ginseng garden and harvested it in early September 1997.

James had a special bond with his five grandsons. He loved watching videos of “The Three Stooges” with them, letting them drive his pickup on the farm, sharing unique phrases and words with them (that they will never forget) and always being there to watch them at various activities as they matured into young men.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Lillian Burish, Marathon; children: David (Marie) Burish and Kay (Randy) Voigt, both of Wausau; son-in-law: Dean Ruplinger, Mosinee; grandsons: Reverend Jesse Burish, Christopher (Kera) Burish, Jamison (Anne) Burish, Bennett (Megan) Ruplinger and Jordan Ruplinger; great grandson: James Ruplinger; brothers: Elton (Joyce), John, Thomas (Kathy), Norbert (Barbara) and Michael Burish; sisters: Janet Skrzypchak and Shirley Reid; sister-in-laws: Shirley Burish, Dawn Mae Burish and Dolores Schueller; brother-in law: Marvin (Kathy) Skrzypcak.

Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by a daughter: Mary Lynn Ruplinger; three sisters: infant Margaret, sister Beatrice, and Beatrice (David) Wadzinski; six brothers: Rueben, Eugene (Donna), Marlen (Theresa), Edward, Anthony and Kenneth; brothers-in-law: Clarence Skrzypchak, Alex (Doris) Skrzypcak, Louis Skrzypcak, and George Schueller; sisters-in-law Susie Burish and Cecilia Skrzypcak.

The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at St. Mary Catholic Church, Marathon. Rev. Msgr. Joseph Diermeier and Rev. Jesse Burish will co-preside. Burial will be in the parish cemetery. Visitation will be on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until time of services at the church.

Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, Marathon, is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at

Shirley Witucki

Shirley M. Witucki, 84, died Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, under the care of Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services at Hospice House, Wausau.

Shirley Witucki

She was born Nov. 17, 1934, in town of Day, daughter of the late Matthew and Susie (Marty) Stark. On June 20, 1956, she married Walter Witucki in Edgar. He preceded her in death on Jan. 10, 2008.

Shirley’s favorite pastimes were gardening, playing cards and putting together puzzles. She loved to cook for family and also baking, especially cookies. Her two words of advice: Don’t smoke and always forgive! Shirley insisted that her family relay how much she enjoyed all the kind words and visits she received from everyone.

Survivors include her children, Sharon (Glenn) Myszka, Kronenwetter, Connie (Dr. William) Knutson, Wausau, Randy (Stacey) Witucki, Athens, and Brian Witucki, Marathon; sons-in-law, Brian Heldt, Athens and Victor Rogers, Wausau; grandchildren, Luke (Melissa), Aaron (Anna), Lindsey (fiancé Mitch), Kyle, Zach (Martina), Katy (Nick), Evan (Sonia), Valene, Robyn (Adam) Jessica (Kevin), Holly, Bob (Jamie), Justin (Thea), Branson (Lydia) and Colin; great-granchildren, Asher, Henley, Elissa, Gracin, Levi, Amelia, Adelyn and Mason; sisters, Marie Drewek and Ruth (Greg) Dunlop; brother, Ron (Geri) Stark.

Besides her parents and husband, Walter, she was preceded in death by daughters, Lisa Heldt and Linda Rogers, brothers, John, Leonard, Francis and Charles Stark, brother-in-law, David Haile, sisters-in-law, Verene Stark and Mertie Stark.

Funeral services will be 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Holy Family Catholic Church, Poniatowski. Rev. Roy Witucki will preside. Burial will be in the parish cemetery. Visitation will be Saturday from 9 a.m. until the time of services, all at Holy Family Catholic Church, Poniatowski.

The family wishes to extend their sincere appreciation to all the caregivers and staff at Hospice House for your exceptional care, making Shirley feel at home and bringing joy to her days.

Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at

Courtney Larsen-Blarek

Courtney J. Larsen-Blarek, 39, of Wausau passed away peacefully at Aspirus Wausau Hospital after a three-year battle with aplastic anemia.

Courtney Larsen-Blarek

She was born Nov. 26, 1979, in Wausau, daughter of James (Rita) Blarek, Hatley, and Carol (Budnik) Bublitz, Wausau.

For many years Courtney worked in the housekeeping department at the Plaza Hotel and Suites, Wausau. She enjoyed the daily tasks of being a mother to her three children, snowmobiling and listening to music.

Survivors include her three children, Hayden, Cade and Colden, her father, Jim (Rita) Blarek, Hatley, her mother, Carol (William) Bublitz, Wausau, her siblings, Forest (Sarah) Blarek, Weston, and Preston (Jared Holewinski) Blarek, Appleton, two step sisters, Alicia (Jody) Esker, Hatley, and Taysia Justus, Fort Atkinson, two step brothers, Ron (Jamie) Wendorski, Weston, and Tim (Val) Wendorski, Hatley and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Courtney was preceded in death by her grandparents, Henry and Lucille Blarek, Sr. and Donald and Elizabeth Budnik.

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, at St. Florian Catholic Church, Hatley. The Rev. Greg Bohren will preside. Burial will be in the parish cemetery in spring. Friends may call on Friday from 9:30 a.m. until the time of services all at the church. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established in Courtney’s name.

Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, 1302 Sixth St., Wausau, is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at

Courtney’s family would like to thank her special aunts and uncles, Brian and Betsy Benaszeski, Donnie and Lynn Budnik and Kevin and Denise Budnik for all the support and devotion they gave to Courtney and the boys during her illness over the past few years. God bless you all.

Ralph Goetsch

Ralph R. Goetsch, 84, was called to his heavenly home on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019.

Ralph Goetsch

He was born to the late Ervin and Esther (Zemke) Goetsch on June 21, 1934. Ralph graduated from Wausau High School. At the age of 16, he started driving a truck for Moland and then Glenndenning. While there he was called to serve his country in the U.S. Army. After his time in the Army, he returned to Glenndenning, later known as GMW. Ralph retired from truck driving from Yellow Freight.

Ralph met a wonderful lady, Liz, and they went on many trips together. They spent every day together and she was there until the end. He also loved spending time with his family; attending the annual corn roast at his daughter’s cottage and spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and attending gun shows.

Ralph will be sadly missed by his partner, Verna “Liz” Habeck; son, Brian Goetsch (special friend, Julie); daughter, Julie (Rick) Derks; grandchildren, Kelly (Melissa) Goetsch, Adam (Karissa) Goetsch, Peter Goetsch, Geoffrey McFaul, Andy (Kim) Derks, Becky (Joe) Vande Voort, and Adam (Kim) Derks; great-grandchildren, Audrey and Caroline Goetsch, Peyton Makeever, and Lincoln and Logan Derks; sister, Grace Pregont; brothers, Jerry (Ellen) Goetsch and Alvin (Joyce) Goetsch; many nieces and nephews; and numerous friends that he met throughout his life.

He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Sylvia Torzewski; brother, Wayne Goetsch; brother-in-law, Claude Pregont; and sister-in-law, Verna Goetsch.

A funeral service will be at noon on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 512 McClellan St., Wausau, with Rev. Jennifer Dahle officiating. Family and friends may call beginning at 9 a.m. until the time of service at the church. After the service, all will gather at the Labor Temple for a luncheon. Burial will follow in Maple Grove Cemetery, village of Maine, with military honors provided by V.F.W. Burns Post #388.

You may sign the family guestbook at

The family would like to thank the staff at Tomahawk Health Services and Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services for the care that Ralph received.

“Vater, I am grateful that God gave you to me as my dad. He must have loved me because he gave me the best he had.  I love you and will miss you dearly.”  Weasel

“Gee whiz, Ralph and Liz, the best there is.”  Liz

Jeffrey Berta

Jeffrey David Berta, 48, passed away on Jan. 26, 2019, in Cave Creek, Arizona.

Jeffrey Berta

Jeff is survived by his beloved wife, Joni; stepchildren, Sarah and Tyler; his parents, Domenic and Laderyl; and sister Giacinta (Dallas); two grandchildren; and three nephews.

Jeff was born Nov. 8, 1970, in Farmington, New Mexico. He loved playing sports during his childhood, especially baseball and basketball. During his senior year he was named athlete of the year.

After graduating from Girard Catholic High School, Jeff completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and then earned his master’s in physical therapy in Amsterdam.

Jeff and Joni married July 3, 2009, in beautiful Sedona, Arizona, and enjoyed more than nine wonderful years of marriage together. Jeff enjoyed hanging out with friends and family, hiking, Jeep trail rides, golfing, camping and walking their dog Buddy. Jeff and his wife loved to travel and explore new places. He was full of energy and loved to make people laugh. Jeff also loved spending time with his grandchildren and playing football with his nephews.

A Celebration of Life and reception will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 10 a.m. at Hansen Desert Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary, 6500 E. Bell Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Jeff’s favorite charity, The Salvation Army.

Delmar Becker

Delmar (Del) Becker, 78, lost his long battle with Alzheimer’s disease on Jan. 25, 2019, at North Central Health Care Center, Wausau, Wisconsin, where he resided the past year.

Delmar Becker

Del was born in Athens, Wisconsin, on March 17, 1940, to Anna (Boehm) and Herman Becker. He was one of eight siblings. After graduating from Athens High School in 1958, he married Marilyn Janke on Feb. 7, 1959. Together they raised three children; daughter—Julia Ann (Kerry) Walcott, sons, Scott Jerome, (deceased 1989), and Michael Thomas, (deceased 2009). Del and Marilyn would have been married 60 years on Feb. 7.

They shared so many adventures during their life together. In 1958, just out of school, Del started his lifelong career in construction. He got his start operating a backhoe with Janke Construction installing sewer and water pipes in Wausau and all-round the state. When Janke Industrial Marine began, Del was operator and foreman on many projects on Janke’s barges on Lake Michigan, placing water intake pipes in the lake bottom for the cities of Kewaunee, Racine, Kenosha, Cudahy, and the University of Milwaukee; also, Houghton and Hancock, Michigan, and other cities.

Del received a Tugman’s license for the Great Lakes and operated Janke’s tugs for the lake projects. His inventiveness and ingenuity greatly assisted in the company’s success.In 1974, Del traveled to Alaska to work on the Great Alaskan Pipeline for several years, mostly near Prudhoe Bay. He fell in love with the scenery, animals and especially the people of Alaska. He worked on additions to the dock in Anchorage for a year. He then bought a backhoe and his business, Del-Mar Inc., began.

His jobs in Alaska consisted of first bailing gravel to construct a float-plane strip in North Pole, Alaska, then installing sewer and water pipe on Mount Alyeska. He began contracting projects with the Corps of Engineers in Alaska building fuel storage tanks in many villages on the west coast of Alaska. There are no roads across the huge mountain ranges from Anchorage and Fairbanks to these villages, so he bought airplanes to transport his employees, equipment and materials. Coordination took extreme efficiency because of the remoteness and inaccessibility of everything, but Del thought It was very adventurous and he excelled at it.

He then contracted with the U.S. Coast Guard to remove fuel storage tanks from the Coast Guard Air Base on Kodiak Island, where he and his sons dug up 63 each 25,000-gallon aviation fuel storage tanks and transported them by huge barges and sold them to villages on the west coast of Alaska. He and his employees also built a huge dock in Dillingham for a fish processing company and another one in Kenai.

One of the most interesting projects was insetting a huge doorway near the top of a mountain in Snittisham, 40 miles south of Juneau, Alaska, because of heavy snowloads making the door inaccessible in winter. They also adapted the facilities that provided the city of Juneau with water that came from a glacial lake in the mountain they worked on. The men had to be flown to the job site by helicopter every morning for work. Since there were no places to live at the site, Del leased a tour boat where he and Marilyn and all the employees lived until project completion. There were many other adventures in Alaska. He worked on and even almost bought a working gold mine northwest of Fairbanks.

Eventually in the 1990s, when the jobs in Alaska began to decline, he moved his business to Wisconsin and contracted several jobs in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Most notably were projects with the Corps of Engineers, doing large repairs and reconstruction of several locks and dams on the Mississippi River and installing large fiber optic cable in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and other projects. He also had two other businesses, Del-Mar General Contracting, Inc, and D. Becker, Inc. When Del’s health began to fade, he and Marilyn closed the business and he began work for other contractors on the Keystone Gas Pipeline throughout the western states.

Del and Marilyn would also frequently travel back to revisit the Alaskan wilderness they fell in love with, the last time in 2011. At this point, his illness was becoming worse. Del was most happy as Mr. Fix-it, welding, repairing and adjusting various mechanical apparatus and using large machinery to accomplish large tasks were his passions. He would dream of gold prospecting, raze his daughter’s home and help rebuild it, and teased and played with his grandchildren, and once finally retired, he would often still be found tinkering with a variety of things in the garage or taking his dogs for rides on the ATV around the 10 acres of property he and Marilyn lived on and loved in the own of Stettin, near Wausau. But part of his heart was always in Alaska. The saying is when you go to Alaska you always leave part of your heart there.

Del is survived by his wife, Marilyn, daughter Julie (Kerry) Walcott, grandchildren Tiffany Mattila-Hass, Michael Newman, Saskia Walcott, Anna Becker and Skyla Walcott, sister Irma (Lee) Parmer, brother Dale Becker, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Del is preceded in death by his two sons, Scott J. and Michael T., father and mother, brothers Alfred and Orville and sisters, Marcella Cook, Verna Groff, and Dorothy Gruelke.

Marilyn wishes to thank Aspirus Hospice for their care before Del’s death and to North Central Health Care Center, Gardenside Center, for the exceptionally loving kindness and compassionate care of all the nurses and staff, who became so much like his family.

A celebration of Del’s life (open house) will be held for family, friends and neighbors at Del and Marilyn’s home on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a light lunch.

John J. Buettgen Funeral Homes Mid Wisconsin Cremation Society is performing cremation.

His ashes will be dispersed in Alaska.

Thomas Stotmeister

Thomas R. Stotmeister, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, at Tomahawk Hospital. He was born and raised in Wausau, Wisconsin, to Roland and Jo (Stotmeister) and was the youngest of two children. Thomas enjoyed the little things in life, like fishing and hunting.

Thomas Stotmeister

Thomas liked making other people laugh and also enjoyed cooking, especially soup, for his family. Thomas loved spending time with his grandchildren. Thomas traveled to Hawaii for six years and when he returned he starting working for the Wausau School District and retired after 31 years.

He married the love of his live in 2003 and they were married for 15 years.

He is preceded in death by his father, Roland.

Survived by his mother, Jo, sister Pam Rossa (Bob), nieces Tess and Amanda, wife Brenda, daughters Theda and Desiree, and four loving grandchildren.

The family would like to thank Dr. Sudbury and the nurses at the Tomahawk Hospital for their attentiveness and loving care in his final days. Thomas is greatly loved and missed by many.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at John J. Buettgen Funeral Home, 948 Grand Ave., Schofield, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Esther Zogata

Esther Emily Zogata, 91, was picked by God from his beautiful earthly flower garden on Jan. 28, 2019. She lived in the home built by her son Mike, in the town of Reid until the time of her passing.

Esther Zogata

Esther was born in Peplin on Aug. 11, 1927, to Boneslaws and Mary (Pryga) Ryskiewicz. She was proud to be the middle child, where Frances Swientek, S M Genevieve Ryskiewicz, Edmund Ryskiewicz, and Lottie Springer were older and Eugene, John, Ben Jr Ryskiewicz and Angie Maliszewski being younger. She is survived by Ben Jr, and Angie.

On Oct. 21, 1950, she married Adolph Zogata. They lived in Chicago until July 1953 before moving to a farm in the town of Reid. Adolph and Esther raised their four children Dan, Marcie (Butch Nemke), Mike [died February 2005] (Karla), and Patsy (Rick Reorowicz) on the farm. After Adolph’s death in July 1968, Esther became a survivor, raising the four children on her own. She learned to fix anything that broke, no matter if it was electrical, mechanical or a woodworking project.

Esther created many happy memories for her family by treating the Chicago family visitors to the farm life with her homemade bread and bakery, as well as homemade jellies. She loved gathering the younger generations to carry on Polish traditions by making Ponczki before Lent and was the best Pierogi pincher in the area. Having the basket of food blessed at church for Easter breakfast was also very important to her.

Esther has a special place in the hearts of her grandchildren, Sherri (special friend Dan); Ronda (Gregg James); John (Angela); Adam (Jamie); Aaron and Clayton Zogata, as well as Derik (Trish) and Lena Nemke.

Esther is known as “Busha” and loved by her great-grandchildren, Aliya James; Declan, Kiyra, Fulton, Kinley and Kaylin Zogata; Nathanael, Micah, Benjamin Zogata; Riley, Rayna and Reed Zogata; Layla Christopherson and Anna Nemke. (Another great-grandbaby girl is due February 2019)

Esther had a green thumb and grew geranium plants that would be the envy of any master gardener. She could sit for hours watching the birds, where she knew them all by name. Rummy was her favorite card game. She is sure to be playing cards with all the saints and angels in heaven. I’m sure she’s even asking Jesus if he has his crying hanky out, as she Rummy’s with the highest points. During her semi-annual casino run with Karen, Jeannie, Marcie and Clayt, she professed to give half of her winnings to St. Ladislaus Parish.

Recently, when asked about her well-being, Esther replied, “I feel good, I sleep good, I have a good appetite, I live in the house Mike built for me. What more could I ask for?” She had a never-ending appreciation for everyone and everything in her life.

Esther was a member of St. Ladislaus Catholic Church for the past 66 years where she was a Golden Member of the Rosary Society. Esther loved lending a helping hand making homemade noodles for the Parish picnic. Esther was a special lady and left her legacy on the hearts of many.

uneral Mass will be held Monday, Feb. 4 at 11 a.m. at St Ladislaus Catholic Church, Bevent. Visitation will begin at 9 a.m. Burial will be in the Parish cemetery. A Rosary will be recited at 10 a.m..

The family wishes to offer gratitude to each caregiver who supported Esther and her family. Dr. Sweet, Linda, Elsie, Jan, Lisa, Jenny, Jeanette (TLC), Nancy, Jillian and Tim: your gifts of care and compassion that you so generously shared will always be remembered!

Schmidt & Schulta Funeral Home, Wittenberg, is assisting the family with funeral arrangements. Memories and condolences may be shared at or at Schmidt & Schulta Funeral Home on Facebook.


Investigative journalist, music enthusiast, blogger, animal lover, kayaker, knitter, wife, mother.