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

Gary Drake

Gary Drake, 83, of Weston, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully at home on Aug. 14, 2019, after a lengthy illness. Gary was born on Jan. 18, 1936, in Wausau, Wisconsin. He was the son of Donald and Adeline (Bonec) Drake from Rothschild, Wisconsin.

Gary Drake

Gary graduated from D.C. Everest High School in 1954. He served his country in the United States Navy on the USS Mispillion from 1954 to 1958. He returned to the Wausau area and retired from Wausau Steel. Gary was a charter member of St Mark’s Catholic Church in Rothschild, Wisconsin. He was also a member of the Rothschild/Schofield/Weston VFW Post 8895 and the Roy L. Drew American Legion Post 492 in Rothschild. Gary loved to tell stories and jokes, recite poems and research his family genealogy.

Gary is survived by his wife, Kathleen Drake; three sons, Rick (Norm Andrews) Drake of Milwaukee, Jim Drake of Wausau, and Mike (Katie) Drake of Wausau; three daughters, Gina (Daryl) Perkins of Baraboo, Angi (Jeremiah) Kosmach of Schofield, and Theresa Schultz of Weston; eight grandchildren, Alex Drake, Chloe Drake, Carter Drake, Amanda (Tim) White, Nikki (Sammy) Payne, Samantha Perkins, Katyln Gronski, and Kyler Seim; and one great-grandchild, Roan Payne. He is further survived by his sister, Phyllis (Drake) Schoenfeldt. Gary was preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law, Phillip Schoenfeldt.

Services will be on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, at St Mark’s Catholic Church of Rothschild. Visitation is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and Mass at 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, all memorials collected will go toward the Gold Star Mothers’ Memorial.

The John J. Buettgen Funeral Home is assisting the family. For online condolences, please visit

Timothy Soja

Timothy Daniel Soja passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, surrounded by his family and friends at St. Clare’s Hospital. Tim’s heart was immeasurable and defined every day, every moment, every second of his life – he always noticed the little things and made sure people were comfortable. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24, at River Park in Rothschild, Wisconsin, 518 Williams St., from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Timothy Soja

Tim was a loving man. He was always a good hugger, especially the bear hugs he would give to his older brothers, Kristopher and Stephen, that would lift them right off the ground. He enjoyed watching anime, movies, and “The Big Bang Theory.” Tim was also an avid reader throughout his life, reading book series faster than authors could write. Whenever he saw his mom, Pam, he would have a stack of books for her to read. Tim was also a hard worker and spent some of his summer helping his dad and stepmom, Mike and Kathy, by tending to their hay field and horses or making rice crispy treats. He also enjoyed visiting his Oma (Janet Milstead) and Auntie Lynette of Illinois whenever he could, going to Goodwill to find the most interesting item. Tim was preceded in death by his Papa (John “Larry” Milstead) who he enjoyed sharing historical stories. Tim touched many in his family in so many ways.

Tim also had a serious side, which came out in the love and passion he had for working. Whether it was lifeguarding, being a pool manager, or working at Menards he always took his responsibilities seriously. Tim’s latest job at Menards was in inventory control and he was very good at his job, finding items was a true gift he possessed. No matter the job or organization, Tim was always willing to pitch in – taking extra shifts, moving equipment, or just doing anything he could to help. His dedication speaks volumes to his character.

Something many may not know about Tim is that he was a fan of cooking and baking shows. He would spend hours watching them with Michael, sometimes over and over again. He was also won over by his favorite “sister” – in-law, Mallory, who knew how to get Tim’s approval was through his stomach. We are having a “Tim’s Bake Off” at his celebration of life and welcome anyone who wants to participate to bake up a batch of your best goodies for others to try. We will see who creates the Tastiest Tim Treat.

Tim chose to continue to give life after death by being an organ donor. Tim’s gifts will continue to spread his spirit, love and kindness to many others. He has touched so many people in his short 26 years on this earth. He will now live on through others. In lieu of flowers the family is asking donations be made in Tim’s honor to the UW Organ and Tissue Donation Fund.

UW Organ and Tissue Donation Fund: 448 Science Drive, Suite 250, Madison, WI 53711

The family would like to thank everyone for their support during this time. Our family and friends have been our rock, much like Tim was to the family.

The Mid-Wisconsin Cremation Society is assisting the family. For online condolences, please visit

Josef Burger

Josef Burger of Wausau passed away on Aug. 10, 2019, at 94; born Nov. 24, 1924, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, to Josef Burger and Zdenka (Dewetterova) Burgerova.

Josef Burger

Josef (Joe) completed high school in 1944 at the Akademicke Gymnasium in Prague, and then studied law at Charles University in Prague, until his studies ended with the communist take over of Czechoslovakia. In 1948, Josef came to the United States and resumed his education, joining his sister Maria at Montana State College in Bozeman, where he attained a bachelor of science degree in history in 1951. After graduation, he was deported to Australia due to immigration quota levels in the U.S. immigration system. Joe lived in Sydney, Australia, for four years, and set up a business selling sandwiches while he patiently waited for his U.S. immigration request to be processed.

Josef returned to the United States with the assistance of his dear sister Maria, who was earning her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin – Madison; he became a U.S. citizen in 1958. While studying for a doctorate in political science at UW-Madison, he met classmate Angela S. Brown, who became the love of his life. They married in 1960 and shared their love of life and joy in each other for the next six decades.

After completing his doctorate in political science, Josef enjoyed a prestigious career spanning 32 years as a professor of international politics, specializing in international relations. His entire career was spent with the University of Wisconsin – Extension System, the majority of this time at the Waukesha, Wisconsin, campus, until his retirement in 1992. He is held in high regard by many of his students, to whom he dedicated his career. Many of them remain his friends to this day.

Josef and Angela bought a historic Victorian home in Wausau to raise their growing family of five children, and in the early 1970s started dabbling in beef and sheep farming, naming the farm property east of Merrill “Michnice West” to honor the family farm of his childhood. In addition, Josef ran for Congress in Wisconsin’s 7th district in 1974, after campaigning with his family.

After retirement, Josef enjoyed extensive traveling around the world, both with his beloved wife, Angela, and occasionally with his children. When possible, everyone would join in to share the adventures. His last international trip was to Mexico in January 2019, and he had future trips in planning. Josef visited all of earth’s continents except Antarctica. His life-long love of model trains refreshed itself in retirement; with aid from family members, he built two automated multi-level railroads, to the great joy of his family and the grandkids (especially Alec, who would slip away to enjoy the delights of model railroading). Josef treasured his beautiful home; with Angela, he restored the home, added furnishings from around the world, and installed many flowering shrubs and gardens to the estate over the years.

The healthcare teams at Aspirus Wausau Hospital often cared for Josef; the staff regularly remembered him. The Burger family would like all care teams and lab staff at Aspirus, as well as Josef’s physician Dr. William Johnston, to know how highly Dad spoke of them during every encounter, whether it was a simple clinic or an E.R. visit. In addition, Josef received home care through Interim Healthcare, and considered his caregivers to be family.

Josef is preceded by his father and mother, brother-in-law Eda Cmunt, sister Zdenka, sister Maria, and finally his wife and partner, Angela. Josef is survived by his five children: Josef of Madison, Wisconsin, Katherina (Timothy O’Brien) of Cokato, Minnesota, John of Madison, Wisconsin, Charles (Tara Miller) of Wausau, Wisconsin, Victoria of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and his five grandchildren, the beloved progeny of Charles and Tara: Elizabeth, Jack, Ryan, Alec and Sophia.

Memorial services will be held on Aug. 24, with visitation from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., service from 11 a.m. to noon and lunch from noon to 1 p.m. at Highland Community Church Weston, 6615 County Road J, Weston, Wisconsin, 54476.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Josef’s name to Doctors Without Borders would be appreciated.

The Mid-Wisconsin Cremation Society is assisting the family. For online condolences, please visit