Richard W. Jansen, 86
April 29, 1930 — Jan. 10, 2017
Richard W. Jansen, 86, died at home with family and friends by his side Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.
He was born on April 29, 1930, to Bernard and Anna (nee Franz) Jansen at home on a farm in Marathon County, town of Mosinee, the sixth of eight children. He graduated from Marathon High School and the former Wisconsin State Teachers College (now University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) with a degree in environmental education, one of the first graduates of what is now the College of Environmental Sciences. He intended to become a forester and work in forest management. However, by chance (Plan B) he did some practice teaching and liked it so much he began a 37-year high school science teaching career — several in Unity and Spencer, 10 at Random Lake, and 25 in West Bend. After retiring from teaching, he started a new career as a sexton, taking care of Holy Angels cemetery for 24 years, retiring at age 84.
In 1952, he married Mary Jane Kurtzweil, the first girl he ever dated. Mary died in 2004 (aside: He was asked how he know she was the right one. His answer was “Quality is a word that was hard to define, but when you see it you will know it”). The marriage was blessed with two children, Karla (James) Johns of Nashville and John (Valerie) of West Bend, and three grandchildren, William Johns, Sam Jansen and Anne Jansen.
He and Mary loved to travel, visiting all 50 states, and making several trips to Europe, Canada and Mexico. He continued his education with night school classes and for 11 summers applying for and receiving National Science Foundation grants. After he retired, he attended (28 as of 2015) Elder Hostel (now Road Scholar) programs.
He loved helping people and had three elderly widow neighbors who he did the summer and winter yard work, small repairs and auto trips, shopping, doctor visits, etc., so that they were able to stay in their homes until shortly before they died. For several years, he was a volunteer transport driver for the Red Cross. He was a member of the Catholic Foresters for more than 70 years, a Catholic Knight for more than 60 years, and a member of Knights of Columbus for more than 30 years. Through his contributions over many years, 25 houses were built for families in need in Haiti and Central America through the organization Feed the Poor.
He never forgot his love for trees, planting trees wherever he could. He planted many of the trees in Holy Angels cemetery and more than 150 trees in Kenny Park along Oak Street. He would like to be remembered as a gentleman and a gentle man. He had a great sense of humor, his joshes and one-liners leaving all those he met with a smile on their faces.
He was preceded in death by his parents and seven siblings, Norbert (Clara), Walter (died at age 17), Helen (Charles) Tamborino, Mary Ann (Alex) Imhoff, Harry (Erna), Ben (Jenny) and Charley (Shirley). He is survived by his two children; three grandchildren; sisters-in-law, Erna and Shirley Jansen; and many nieces and nephews, and by his very best friend, Janet Jaeger, only the second woman he ever dated. His family would like to acknowledge how much Janet enriched his life and that of his family.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at noon Friday, Jan. 13, at Holy Angels Catholic Church (138 N. Eighth Ave., West Bend), with burial following in the parish cemetery. Visitation will be at the church on Friday from 10-11:45 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials to the St. Vincent Society or Full Shelf Food Pantry in West Bend are appreciated.
The Schmidt Funeral Home of West Bend is serving the family. Online guestbook and condolences are available at www.schmidtfuneralhome.com.