Earl Frederick Petzke, 87, of DeForest, and formerly of Baraboo, passed away peacefully on Thursday, May 9, 2019, at Agrace Hospice Center in Fitchburg, of ALS and complications from influenza.
Earl was born April 10, 1932, in North Freedom, the oldest of 10 children of the late Frederick and Anna Petzke. He attended Valley Grade School and Prairie du Sac High School.
Earl proudly served his country as a corporal in the 321 Signal Corps of the Army in the Korean War. He was shot down in enemy territory shortly after arriving in Korea. After several months of recuperation in Germany, Earl was able to tour seven European countries prior to his honorable discharge.
Upon returning home from the war, he worked on the family farm and later worked for the Baraboo Cooperative, LaMasney Construction and St. Clare Hospital.
Earl met the love of his life, Joyce Getschman, at a picnic at Devil’s Lake State Park and they were married on April 27, 1957. They made their home in Baraboo and were married for 52 years. Earl was an amazing husband who was Joyce’s loving and patient primary caregiver for more than 20 years after she suffered a stroke; she preceded him in death in 2009. Earl retired in 1997 and they were able to take their “trip of a lifetime” to Alaska together.
Later in life, Earl enjoyed spending winters in Florida, a cross-country trip through Canada, adventures to the east and west coasts with his brother Leon, many good times fishing, and spending Memorial Day weekend with family at the cabin in Tomahawk. His primary hobby in retirement was genealogy and he has thoroughly documented much of the family history. He also enjoyed building puzzles and going to car shows with his 1919 Model T.
Earl will forever be remembered for his easygoing manner and being a top-notch handyman — there wasn’t much he couldn’t build or figure out how to make any engine work. His work ethic and grit were second to none; he not only survived getting shot down in the war, but also survived being caught in two tornadoes, a bridge giving out as he drove over it with a propane tank truck, falling through a roof on a construction site, and getting struck by lightning. That’s enough excitement for one life.
Earl is survived by his daughter, Julie (Greg) Iverson of DeForest, and their children, Nicole, Katie and Joseph; and his son, Steve (Paula) Petzke of Green Bay, and their children, Ryan and Rachel. He is further survived by his siblings, Dorothy Leake, Dean Petzke, Marlene Tourdot, Marva Pagel, Dennis Petzke and Sheryl Schuck; his sister-in-law, LaVonne Koenecke; and brothers-in-law, Lyle, James and Gale Getschman; as well as many loving nieces, nephews; cousins and friends.
In addition to his parents and wife, he was preceded in death by his in-laws, Schuyler and Treva Getschman; his sister, Gladys Getschman (his sister married Joyce’s brother); and his brothers, Leon and Roger.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, 2019, at Emanuel United Methodist Church, 101 14th St., Baraboo, with Pastor Blake Overlien officiating. Visitation will be held from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service at the church. Burial will follow at Walnut Hill Cemetery where military rites will be conducted.
Earl’s family would like to thank the many angels and exceptional staff at the VA Hospital in Madison, Columbia Health Care Center in Wyocena, and Agrace Hospice for the incredible care and compassion shown to Earl during these last four months.
In lieu of flowers or other expressions of sympathy, donations and memorial gifts will be given to the Badger Chapter of Wisconsin Honor Flight so that other vets can take the trip that Earl wasn’t able to. It is our hope and Earl’s wish that everyone takes time to recognize Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day and never miss an opportunity to thank a vet for their service.
The Redlin Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.