Dennis K. Griffin

It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of Dennis K. Griffin on September 5, 2021, at the age of 70. After a tireless fight with idiopathic liver disease, Dennis passed peacefully at home with his wife Peggy by his side.   

Dennis was born on July 3, 1951, to Chester and Darlene (Kinter) Griffin and was raised in Humboldt, Iowa. He was the middle sibling to his older brother Barry Griffin and younger sister Sandra (Carrasquillo). During Dennis’ early years, he had a passion for adventure and a desire to learn. He spent countless hours with his brother canoeing, even traveling for two days together on a 100 river-mile trip. The two lived off the land, camped riverside, roasted field corn over the fire, and made their way back home. Dennis enlisted his sister to help him check beaver traps along the riverbank, smoke out beehives, and harvest honey.  He even ordered bees to start his apiary business, and the post office was not impressed when asked to deliver a buzzing package. 

In middle school, he worked on a hog and beef farm: cultivating corn, cutting hay, bailing straw, combining oats, and caring for many animals. While the farmhouse was a good enough place to eat and sleep for most, Dennis decided he needed more seclusion. The farm had a small unused chicken brooder house built on skids. Together with his brother, they attached it by log chain to a tractor and pulled it ¾ mile to a spot next to the Des Moines River. Though hardly a mansion, for Dennis, this home provided him with the perfect amount of the seclusion and yet another adventure.

While in high school, Dennis’ desire for exploration expanded from Humboldt; he started hitchhiking as a means visit his brother at University in Iowa City and eventually spread to destinations across the Midwest. It was a new adventure each time he got into a semi-tractor or a car with someone.   

After graduating from high school in 1969, Dennis headed off to vet school at Iowa State University in Ames. During a rotation in Wausau, he knew he wanted to make his home in Wisconsin. After graduating in 1976 with his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, he moved to Wausau, where he spent 20 years as part of a local clinic before venturing out as a sole practitioner. Dennis practiced on his own for 25 years, right up until his passing. Dennis’ career as a veterinarian fulfilled his constant desire to learn and build relationships with his community. He had an incredible clientele – many became close friends.

Dennis was blessed with two children (Katie & Dave Griffin) with whom he engrained his gentle demeanor and love for the outdoors. It was important to Dennis that his kids have the opportunity to grow up on a farm, surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. He purchased a farm in the Town of Maine in the 1980s. They spent countless hours riding horses, raising steers for the county fair, hosting sleigh rides for local schools, and helping neighbors bale hay. The kids cherished jumping into the vet truck joining their dad for calls; many special memories were made driving down the road, snacking on cheese curds, headed to the next stop. 

As his children grew up, their endeavors expanded from the farm on Hillcrest Drive. Dave and Dennis shared a love for downhill skiing. In the winter of 1995 into 1996, they took the “Outdoor Emergency Care” training together and became part of the Rib Mountain Ski Patrol. There was an annual patrol family party at which Dennis cooked the meat. This was the start of the hog roasting days. It is rumored Dennis spent these February nights in a tent atop the ski hill, tending to the roaster. After Dave went off to college, Dennis stayed on the Ski Patrol, where he was a member for over twenty years and made several close friends in the Granite Peak Ski Patrol family.   

Dennis shared his love of the great outdoors and God’s creation with Dave and Katie through cross-country road trips and camping. They packed the Jeep full and headed out west to the mountains, up to the Calgary Stampede, and many national parks along the way. Dennis and Katie traveled east to Pictured Rocks in Michigan, where they hiked 40 miles over four days across the famous national park. Dave and Dennis road-tripped to Alaska where they camped, backpacked and created great memories for nearly two weeks. The two also backpacked the Australian Outback while Dennis was in Sydney attending a global veterinary education meeting, an adventure and a half.  

On a solo trip in the late 1990s, Dennis traveled to England. After admitting he should not be allowed to drive in Europe, he spent four days walking hostel-to-hostel where he was captivated by arboretums and beautiful gardens dotting the countryside. He poked his head into the farmer’s barns, asked everyone he met about their story, and joined in cheering on a soccer game at a local pub. During this adventure, he came upon the veterinarian and author James Heriot’s former practice, where he visited with Heriot’s son (also a practicing veterinarian). This trip was impactful for Dennis’ life and his vision of the future.  

Dennis met the love of his life, Peggy (Lonsdorf), while working together at the vet clinic in Wausau. The two were soulmates (as he always called her) from the beginning. Whether they were running a Coggins clinic in February or planting flowers in May, they were always happy just to be together. Their relationship was built on true love and a passion for the same things. They shared a love for gardening, celebrating with family, raising kids on the farm, drinking coffee, and exploring all the bed and breakfasts they could. At the end of each day, you could always find them sitting side-by-side, creating their next adventure. 

Speaking of adventures, many coincided. Shortly after the new millennium, Dennis jumped headfirst into sled dog racing as a veterinarian on the trail. He tested the waters in northern Minnesota at the Beargrease Marathon and was hooked. Soon after, Dennis became an official veterinarian of Alaska’s Iditarod Sled Dog Race. He spent many Wisconsin winter nights sleeping outside in a tent, in preparation. The opportunity to practice veterinary medicine, immerse himself in local cultures, travel by bush plane between checkpoints, sleep outdoors, and listen to tales of Alaska was everything Dennis loved. He was a proud member of the Iditarod veterinary team for 17 years and had incredible stories every time he returned home from Alaska. 

Back in Wausau, Dennis and Peggy’s shared values of creating memories and celebrating traditions were the basis for the formation of Willow Springs Garden. In one of these side-by-side evening chats, Dennis mentioned he had overheard (while out on vet calls) that the Maine Town Hall was to be demolished. The hall was a staple in the community and represented a place where memories were made, and family traditions took place. So, why not keep it going? He decided to save the hall and move it to his farm.  

The hall was moved, and foundations were poured. In the midst of renovations, Dennis and Peggy were wed on May 27, 2006. They devoted themselves to one another in their beloved gazebo outside the hall and across from the Wedding Garden planted in their honor. And per usual, they had a few surprises up their sleeves; no wedding is complete without a horse-drawn carriage and fireworks. 

When Dennis began his life with Peggy, he also became a dad to three more kids (Kathleen, Vincent and Andrea Vignali).  When he picked them up from the babysitter, the three kids squeezed into the few empty spaces in the vet truck for the short ride home. Dennis engrained the same principles into these three as he had with his own children. They shared family camping trips across the U.S., raising steers for the fair, Friday night gymkhanas, days at the ski hill, and (veterinary) calls to ride along on. He was very patient…road tripping with a pet snake in the backseat, accepting an indoor dog, and cousins frequently coming over to play. What a special man. Dennis was the dad that didn’t have to be, but was. 

As the children grew up, so did Willow Springs. In the 2000s, Dennis decided to start a corn maze. He created the first maze by hand and continued this painstaking process each year. It is a mystery how he was able to envision what each maze would look like from a plane and plot it out on the ground. Each year he would take someone new along in the plane to inspect his work of art (good, bad or ugly). Together with Peggy, the corn (and haunted) maze evolved into a well-oiled machine that has been a tradition in the Griffin household and the local community for 21 years. 

Dennis and Peggy were thrilled with the impact the Town Hall restoration started to have on the community. Just as they were getting comfortable with what Willow Springs would be, Dennis decided to move an old round barn that was just down the road. 

In 2006, after extensive planning, the Round Barn was moved to its current location at Willow Springs. The round barn represents another place for families to build memories, share family traditions and celebrate life’s biggest moments. The barn is also a place for stories of the past and preserving history: something of great importance to Dennis. The meticulous restoration of the barn, involving project after project represented exactly how Dennis loved to live. He was constantly exploring and always planning his next adventure. 

Dennis was a visionary and thought in ways others could only dream of. He impacted his community and his family in immense ways. His gift to everyone is the beauty he has created at Willow Springs. His presence surrounds every single person who walks through the gardens, the round barn, the hall, and the maze, or rides on a sleigh into the woods (at the farm he purchased when the whole thing started). 

He will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Peggy; children: Dave, Katie (Todd Rainer), Kathleen (Marty Vanderstappen), Vincent Vignali, Andrea (Dylan Fleischman); grandchildren: Cash and Hannah Griffin; brother Barry (Glenda) Griffin; sister Sandra (Jess Carrasquillo); mother-in-law: Dolores Lonsdorf; brothers-in-law: George Lonsdorf, Tim (Stella), Dan Lonsdorf, Marshall Lonsdorf, Christopher Lonsdorf, Andrew (Mera) Lonsdorf; sisters-in-law: Linda (Bob) Davis, Laurie Lonsdorf (Mike Kennedy), Roseanne (Marty) Hanley; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents: Chester & Darlene Griffin; stepmother (Dorothy Griffin) and father-in-law: George Lonsdorf.

Donations in lieu of flowers will be used to continue Dennis’ legacy and vision at Willow Springs. 

All services will take place at: 

The Round Barn at Willow Springs

6905 North 60th Avenue

Wausau, WI 54401


Monday, September 13th from 4-8pm

Tuesday, September 14th from 9-11am

Celebration of Life: 

Tuesday, September 14th at 11am 

Pamela A Zahn

Pamela A Zahn, age 57, passed away peacefully with her family by her side at Hospice House after a 3 year battle with brain cancer  

Pam was born in the City of Berlin on August 16, 1964 to David and Patricia (O’Kon) Spangler.  She graduated from DC Everest High School in 1982 and went on to get her associate’s degree at NTC. She would later work as a loan officer for Ag Country.   On October 2, 1992, she married the love of her life, Steven Zahn at St. John’s Lutheran Church in the Town of Maine.  Together Pam and Steve had two sons, Justin and Alex. Pam adored her sons and was very active in their lives, wearing the title of Hockey Mom proudly.  She served on the board for the Wausau Area Hockey Association.    In addition, she was a member of the chamber of commerce, PPA and served on the dairy board.  Pam also enjoyed vacationing in Florida with her family. The farm where she and Steve lived was her happy place, where she was known for having a perfectly mowed lawn.  She also had a gift in her art; creating and teaching pottery.  Her work was beautiful and enjoyed by her friends and family.  Pam especially loved sharing her creations as gifts for no reason to many.  

She is survived by her husband Steve Zahn; sons Justin and Alex Zahn; parents David and Patricia Spangler; siblings Sheri (Kevin) Laporte, Jan Spangler, Fritz (Craig) Johnson, Amy Spangler, Blaine (Brittany) Spangler and Craig (Katie) Spangler; father and mother-in-law Charlie and Joanne Zahn; sister-in-aw Deb (Todd) Maley;  and many nieces, nephews and friends.  

Funeral service will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 5304 44th Ave., Wausau.  The Rev. Dan Sire will officiate.  Immediately following the service, the family would like everyone to join them at Willow Springs for lunch and a social hour.  Visitation will take place at church from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 and again from 9:00 am until the time of service at the church on Wednesday.  

The family would like to thank the entire staff at Aspirus Hospice and Hospice House, especially Kathy, Flora and Jen.

Dale E. Schoepke

Dale Schoepke lived life to the fullest, always enjoying talking to people and telling or hearing the latest joke or funny story.  Dale passed from this life to the next in heaven on September 6, 2021, where Delores has been awaiting their reunion. 

Dale Eugene Schoepke was born on March 14, 1932 to Werner and Leonora (Parduhn) Schoepke and grew up in Eland, WI, where his father owned the local feed store.  He graduated from Wittenberg High School in 1950.  After graduation, he worked in Milwaukee until January 1952, when he was called home after his father’s death to manage the feed store.  He served in the 11th Airborne Division of the US Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky from 1952 to 1954.  On June 12, 1955, he married Delores Schulz, his dear friend from Walther League and high school, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg.  They moved to Wausau, where he attended Wausau Technical Institute on the GI bill and graduated with an associate degree in accounting in 1957. 

Dale spent the majority of his working life, 36 years, at Wausau Paper Mills where he had various roles ranging from inventory controller to working in the shipping department.  In addition to his work, Dale was very active in the American Legion, serving as commander of Montgomery-Plant Post 10 in 1961 and as a member of the Operations Committee for many years. 

The center of Dale’s life revolved around his faith community at Trinity Lutheran Church on Stewart Avenue, Wausau.  He served as Sunday School superintendent for many years, and was also chairman of the Trinity School Board in the 1960’s.  As an usher, he was there week in and week out to greet everyone and listen to the choir where his wife sang.  

Dale rarely if ever missed events when his children were in a concert or sporting event.  He and Delores took special joy in heading out on Saturday mornings to attend son Dave’s high school cross country meets.  He also continued to be a lifelong Brewers, Packers and Bucks supporter and cheered for the Brewers to make it to the World Series this year. 

In retirement, Dale got joy from taking up golf and playing in the “Mulligans” league with other friends from Trinity.  He and Delores did many bus trips throughout the U.S. and travelled with the Wausau Lyric Choir on a European tour. 

Dale is survived by his daughter Dawn (David) Hill of Golden Valley, MN, son David Schoepke of Hewitt, WI, and grandson Timothy Hill of Chicago, IL, and many nieces and nephews.  In addition to his wife Delores, Dale was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Kermit and grandson Andrew Schoepke. 

Special thanks to the staff and residents at Applegate Terrace who made Dale’s life the last four years such a joy (including the afternoons spent winning at Bingo), and to the staff of Aspirus Hospice who were so compassionate with Dale in his last days.  

Funeral service will be 11:00 a.m., Monday, September 13, 2021 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 501 Stewart Ave., Wausau. Reverend Timothy Smith will officiate. For those who are unable to attend, the service will be available via live stream at  Visitation will be from 9:00 am until the time of service at the church. Burial and military honors performed by the Wausau American Legion will be at 11:00 am on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at Restlawn Memorial Park.  All are welcome to attend. 

 While masks are not required, their use is strongly encouraged. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Trinity Lutheran Church or donor’s choice. 

John P. Salzman

John P. Salzman, 56, town of Hewitt, died Tuesday, September 7, 2021 at Aspirus Wausau Hospital.

He was born August 3, 1965 in Wausau, son of the late Leonard and Alice (Wanke) Salzman.

John was a graduate of DC Everest High School and began his working career at Northcentral Technical College, Wausau, where he worked in maintenance for the metal workshop.  John was very involved with local auctions and enjoyed working as a yard manager for Nitke Auction Center, Kronenwetter.  He furthered his working career, proudly earning his CDL and was a professional driver for area companies.

John loved to collect train memorabilia and enjoyed steam engine train rides.  He loved his tractors and “tinkering” and “fixing” cars. John enjoyed traveling the country with Rob in their RV to country music shows. They especially enjoyed seeing Nick Hickman, Camille Rae, and KT Country perform.

He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.

Survivors include, five siblings, Marie Hughes, Kenosha, Karen Hass, town of Weston, Tony (Sandy) Salzman, Hatley, Tom Salzman, town of Weston and Patti Salzman, town of Plover; nephew, Steven Salzman; nieces, Shannon and Shelby Salzman; step-nieces, Ann Streveler and Jamie (Justin) Miller; and his loving companion, Rob Grueneberg, Wausau.

Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers, Matthew and Mark; his life partner, Evelyn Cooper; and his brother-in-law, Brian Hughes.

Funeral services will be at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 17, 2021 at Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, 1302 Sixth Street, Wausau.  Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. until time of services at the funeral home.  Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery, Wausau at a later date.

Online condolences may be expressed at

The family would like to thank Aspirus for the wonderful care given to John.

Mark D. Ramthun

Mark D. Ramthun, 62, died Sunday, September 5, 2021 at his home. 

He was born April 9, 1959 in Wakefield, Michigan, son of the late Harvey and Marlene (Pulver) Ramthun. 

Mark enjoyed hunting, fishing and cheering on his favorite teams the Chicago Bears and Cubs.  He was a gentle giant and all around good man who loved his son and time spent with him.

Survivors include his son, Daniel L. Ramthun and Daniel’s mother, Sara Perkins-Hardnett; sister, Linda (Bob) Stasney; niece Jennifer (Daniel) Christensen and their children, Abram and Landon Christensen; nephew, Tony (Nikki) Stasney and their children, Piper and Grayson Stasney; close family friends, Sonya and Kate Luszczak.

Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by a brother, Daniel P. Ramthun.

Memorial services will be 1:00 p.m. Monday, September 13, 2021 at Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, 1302 Sixth St., Wausau.  Rev. Kevin Schnake will officiate.  Burial will be in Restlawn Memorial Park, Wausau.  Visitation will be Monday from 11:00 a.m. until the time of services all at the Sixth St. funeral home.

Online condolences may be expressed at

Louis W. Close

Louis W. Close, 81, passed away peacefully on September 8, 2021, at Hospice House in Wausau.

He was born July 13, 1940, in Manitowoc, WI to Louis J. and Catherine Close. Lou graduated from Manitowoc Lincoln High School, served four years in the Navy, and returned to Manitowoc to marry the love of his life, Bette Ohlhues.

Lou’s job with Chrysler Corporation brought them to Chicago, Wausau and Milwaukee, before permanently moving to Wausau in 1968. Together they raised their daughter and two sons in a house filled with love and music. They operated Close Harmony Music Studio, selling instruments and teaching the city of Wausau to play. Lou also worked as a District Sales manager for both Kimball Piano and Baldwin Piano Companies.

An accomplished musician, Lou played many instruments, led a guitar mass at St. Michaels and sang with the Saturday Night Singers at St. James. He performed folk music throughout the country, and in retirement, entertained with his accordion at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek, WI. Both he and Bette volunteered at area hospitals and the Hospice House, bringing music and joy to patients. Lou coached his son’s basketball and baseball teams and was involved in all his children and grandchildren’s lives.

Preceded in death by his parents, sisters Donna and Catherine, he is survived by his wife of 59 years, Bette; daughter Christa (Kraig) Bush of St. Louis, MO; sons Louis (Jill) Close of Wayzata, MN, and Michael (Christa) Close of Medina, MN; brother John (Gail) Close of Charlotte, NC; and grandchildren Michelle Harrison, Michael and Nick Bush, Caroline, Marielle, and Sydney Close, and Caitlyn, Zachary and Max Close. He will be missed dearly.

The family would like to thank Justin Asquith MD and his team at Aspirus Regional Cancer Center; and caregivers at Aspirus Wausau Hospital, Rennes Care Center and Aspirus Hospice House for the excellent care they provided Lou.

The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Friday, September 17, at Resurrection Catholic Church, 621 N. Second St., Wausau.  The Rev. Msgr. Mark Pierce will preside.  Private interment services will take place in Pine Grove Cemetery.  Visitation will be Friday from 9:00 a.m. until the time of services at the church. The family requests masks for all those in attendance. Memorials preferred to Good News of Wausau and Aspirus Hospice House of Wausau.

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

Joseph Kelbley

Joseph Kelbley, 79 of Kronenwetter passed away suddenly at his home on September 4, 2021. Joseph was born on November 30, 1941, to the late Harold and Margaret (Keller) Kelbley.

He is survived by his two sons; Adam Kelbley (Jennifer Reetz) Kronenwetter, granddaughter Katelynn, Kronenwetter, Jordan Kelbley, Mosinee, grandson Ronan Kelbley, Mosinee, two sisters; Marlene Happli, Mosinee, Margaret (John) Steder, Mosinee and sister-in-law Janet Kelbley.

He is preceded in death by three brothers, Norman, Harold, and David Kelbley.

Services will be held on Sunday, September 12, 2021, at John J. Buettgen Funeral Home 948 Grand Ave., Schofield, with visitation from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with a prayer service at 7:00 p.m. Visitation will again be held at St. Therese Catholic Church on Monday, September 13, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. until the time of Mass of Christian burial at 11:00 a.m. officiated by Father Albert. Burial will follow to Gate of Heaven in Mosinee with full military honors.

John J. Buettgen Funeral Home is assisting family at this time. Online condolences may be expressed at

Marjorie M. Bachtal

Marjorie M. Bachtal, 78, of Wisconsin Rapids passed away at St. Michaels Hospital on Sunday, September 5, 2021. She was born to the late John and Adeline (Laufenburg) Erdman, Sr. on April 21, 1943. She married the lover of her life on April 23, 1989 sharing 32 years together.

She is survived by her husband Rickey, one daughter Brenda (Rodney) Hale, Wis. Rapids, two sons Arthur (Sue) Bachtal, Jessie”Jim” Wisniewsli, TX, two sisters, Mary Erdman, and many loving grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in death by two brothers, Jim and John Erdman and sister in law Amy Erdman.

Services will be held at Faith Baptist Church in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Visitation for family and friends will be from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service at 11:00 a.m. officiated by Pastor Steve Stienmetz.

John J. Buettgen Funeral Home is assisting family at this time. Online condolences may be expressed at

Joseph Kelbley

Joseph Kelbley, 79 of Kronenwetter passed away suddenly at his home on September 4, 2021. Joseph was born on November 30, 1941, to the late Harold and Margaret (Keller) Kelbley.

He is survived by his two sons; Adam Kelbley (Jennifer Reetz) Kronenwetter, granddaughter Katelynn, Mosinee, Jordan Kelbley, Mosinee, grandson Ronan Kelbley, Kronenwetter, one brother Kenneth W. Kelbley (Hsu) Garland, TX, two sisters; Marlene Happli, Mosinee, Margaret (John) Steder, Mosinee and sister-in-law Janet Kelbley, Richmond, IN.

He is preceded in death by three brothers, Norman, Harold, and David Kelbley and one brother-in-law John Happli.

Services will be held on Sunday, September 12, 2021, at John J. Buettgen Funeral Home 948 Grand Ave., Schofield, with visitation from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with a prayer service at 7:00 p.m. Visitation will again be held at St. Therese Catholic Church on Monday, September 13, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. until the time of Mass of Christian burial at 11:00 a.m. officiated by Father Albert. Burial will follow to Gate of Heaven in Mosinee with full military honors.

John J. Buettgen Funeral Home is assisting family at this time. Online condolences may be expressed at

Alberta S. Cunningham

November 7, 1919-December 29, 2020:
Loving mother, devoted wife, loyal friend, teacher extraordinaire, compassionate counselor, world traveler, nature enthusiast, lifelong learner.

Preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, Bernard, and her daughter, Jane Weik.

Survived by her daughter, Kay Alexander(Ben), and son-in-law, Richard Weik.

Join us in Celebrating the Life of Alberta Cunningham on Friday, September 17, 2021 at 11AM at the First United Methodist Church in Wausau, Wisconsin. Luncheon to follow.