Local businessman Joseph F. Kaiser, 89, passed away Dec. 15, 2017, surrounded by his loving family.
Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20 at United Presbyterian Church in Wisconsin Dells with the Rev. Steven Keller officiating. Visitation will be at the church from 11 a.m. until the time of the service.
Joe was born at home, in the City of Kilbourn (Wisconsin Dells) on March 13, 1928, to Joseph J. and Wilma (Winnes) Kaiser. Both were descendants of early pioneer families of Kilbourn City.
Joe married the love of his life, Deloris Jane Playman, on April 19, 1949. They were married for 67 years before she passed away in August of last year. They had seven children together and Joe was proud of each one of them, proud of who they were and what they did with their lives. He was especially proud of how strong they each were when overcoming difficult times in their lives. As they grew up, he would spend time analyzing them and realized how very different each of them were. He was a huge supporter in their chosen paths, a good family man and provider. Always making sure his kids had what they needed and that there were Christmas gifts under the tree.
Joe graduated from Wisconsin Dells High School in 1945. He was a very talented and competitive young man. In the second grade, he played trumpet in the high school band, and by the seventh grade, he became first chair. Joe played in his first dance band at the Warf when he was 14 years old. He also sang in the a capella choir in school. Joe had a beautiful singing voice. He was active in sports playing football, basketball and running track all four years of high school. Often he was asked to play the trumpet during halftime while still in his uniform. Joe also played on the championship basketball team at state tournament. During the summers, Joe worked for his dad as a bulk ice delivery driver. Joe started working for his dad cutting ice on the river when he was 6 years old. At 13, he drove the delivery trucks and delivered ice to the many homes, businesses and resorts in the area.
After graduation in 1945, Joe enlisted in the army during WWII. He was 17. He entered the Army Specialty Training Program, which sent him to the University of Illinois engineering program. After college, he was sent to Missouri and taught two cycles of jungle warfare. After 18 months, he was sent to the military base in New Jersey, promoted to staff sergeant, reporting directly to the Pentagon. He handled all military personnel and discharges, and finally discharged himself in 1948 to return home to run the family business for his ailing father. He remained on active duty. During his time in the service, Joe played “Taps” every day when the day was done. After the service, he became a member of the American Legion Post 187 and played “Taps” for the many veterans from the Dells and surrounding area. He played “Taps” over 1,000 times in his lifetime, the last time when he was 85 years old. People would say when Joe played “Taps,” it would bring tears to their eyes, he played with such passion.
After the service, Joe continued to work the ice business with his father, building the business stronger than it ever was. As a member of the Legion, Joe also worked the Indian Ceremonial for over 30 years. Joe played semi-pro basketball for a few years, playing against top players like Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch. He continued to play the trumpet in many of the bands at the various dance pavilions in the area for many years. Joe had the great opportunity and honor to play his trumpet in the Harry James Orchestra at a club in Sauk City in 1953.
In 1954, Joe was approached by the Schlitz Brewery Co. from Milwaukee to operate the distribution company in the area. He became general manager and then owner of the business until he retired in 1987, selling the business to his son, Bruce. He was proud of the fact that he quadrupled the business in its first six years. Joe was one of the most hardworking and honest businessmen you could ever know.
Joe was an avid golfer and spent his retirement years on the golf course. He and Deloris had a circle of friends they played with for many years. They spent their winters golfing in Arizona. Joe also sang in a gospel choir there and played the trumpet in a mariachi band. He also spent a lot of time making golf clubs for others.
Joe was an active member of the Presbyterian Church and sang in the choir for over 50 years. He was a thoughtful and giving man. He was always finding a way to help others whether it be in their day-to-day lives or in business. His word was his honor and a handshake meant something.
Joe leaves behind his seven children, Bruce (Jan) Kaiser, Gail (Jerry) Jermier, Jane (Richard) Haynes and Joan (Jack) Ragan, all of Wisconsin Dells; Jill Kaiser (Susie) of Oshkosh, Dr. Joseph Kaiser of Michigan and Jennifer (David Delmore) of Lodi; 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. He is further survived by a sister, Jean (George) Hinton of Australia; several cousins and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Deloris; his sister and brother-in-law, Julie and Ron Lange; his brother and sister-in-law, Harold and Shirley Kaiser; nephew, Scott Kaiser; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Bob and Betty Playman; brother-in-law, Jim Playman; and nephews, Jeff and Mike Playman.
Memorials in Joe’s name can be made to United Presbyterian Church, 730 Cedar St., Wisconsin Dells, or the Harold B. Larkin American Legion Post 187 of Wisconsin Dells.
Picha Funeral Home and Crematory of Wisconsin Dells assisted the family with arrangements. For online condolences and information, go to www.pichafuneralhome.com.