Stan Theis is a living example of what it means to be neighborly: helpful, friendly, kind. Civil, good-natured, pleasant.
“He’s the kind of guy that will get things done,” said Theis’ friend, Fritz Wyttenbach. “You don’t have to worry about him not following through. Whatever it takes, Stan will get it done.”
Such was the case on the afternoon of Nov. 28, where Theis could be found helping Wyttenbach reinstall a military memorial on his front lawn. Weeks prior, the structure had been broadsided; the likely result of a drunk driver.
The afternoon was beautiful and sunny, and the two men got to work.
“When people need help, you just do it,” Theis said.
The Marxville native grew up on his family’s 107 year-old farm and graduated from Mazomanie High School. He attended a two-year program at Madison Area Technical College for business administration, and later did a short stint as a bookkeeper.
Theis ended up in the Sauk Prairie area in 1965 where he worked as an office manager for Ballweg Chevrolet. But by 1972, the country life soon called Theis back to the family farm, and Theis bought part of the land and farmed it with his father until deciding to retire. Theis still owns the farm, but rents it out as a cash crop.
Over the years he has served the various communities he’s lived in in different capacities: six years on the Town of Berry Board and the Sauk Prairie Hospital Board of Trustees for nine years, from 1986 through 1995; three of which were as president. He also served on the Wisconsin Hospital Association, receiving director of the year in 1996.
“After his nine years on the hospital board, Stan joined the foundation board in 1995 and served through 2004,” said Patrice Luer, executive director of Sauk Prairie Healthcare Foundation. He was the board secretary for six of those years.
“Stan is the only one of our donors I know of whose donation of stock was exactly that –live stock,” Luer said. “He used to donate a cow when he took animals to auction, and the foundation would receive a check from the auction house for the sale of our cow. He’s not only generous, but smart – there was an additional tax benefit in giving that way.”
Luer said Theis’ interest in Sauk Prairie Healthcare hasn’t diminished in the years since he finished his tenure on the boards. “He and Lynette made a generous gift to help build the new hospital, and you can count on seeing them every year at the SPH Association Annual meeting,” Luer said.
More recently, Theis’ presence has been felt through his efforts in helping with Heroes for Honor and the two Sauk Prairie-funded Badger Honor Flights, serving as bookkeeper and assisting in multiple fundraisers along the way.
“The whole group did a lot of work,” Theis said. “We had a great committee. And it was fantastic the way the whole community supported it.”
His drive to help fellow veterans stems from his own involvement in the military; Theis served in the U.S. Army for six years. “What people don’t know is many of us didn’t have a choice,” Theis said. “You’d go to job interviews and the first thing they’d ask is what’s your status in the draft? If you were A1 – which most everybody was – they’d actually look at you and say don’t even bother filling out an application; fulfill your service to the country and then come back and see us after.”
Theis said he was very fortunate not to have to go to war. “I saw the reactions from (people),” he said. “Soldiers were told to change out of their uniforms upon getting home because of the mindset of the country at the time. A lot of those guys didn’t get the homecoming they deserved.”
Theis said he firmly believes in giving back to your community. He can be found hauling wheelchairs for residents of The Pines where his mother now lives, helping to load and unload seniors. “You see the smiles and get the thanks’ that’s all you get out of it,” Theis said. “Hopefully someday someone will do it for me.”
“I’ve known him quite a while,” Wyttenbach said of Theis. “He’s just a terrific asset; he’s good for the community. He might be retired, but he’s not tired. He’s got a lot of energy.”