Peter Russell Tollaksen, 78; Wisconsin Dells

Peter Russell Tollaksen, 78; Wisconsin Dells

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WISCONSIN DELLS - Peter Russell Tollaksen, age 78, of Wisconsin Dells, Wis., passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo, Wis.

A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be planned at a future date.

Peter was born Feb. 11, 1942, in Chicago, Ill., the son of Russell and Virginia (Norling) Tollaksen. He graduated from Wisconsin Dells High School in 1960 and furthered his education at UW Stevens Point earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and economics. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army drafted Pete, and he was stationed at Ft. Knox. Due to an eye injury suffered at age 12, he was honorably medically discharged. In Nov. 1966, he married Ann Marie Gonring in West Bend, Wis. and began his career, working with his father at the Wisconsin Deer Park, which he eventually owned and operated throughout his adult life.

Peter was a “people person plain and simple” and was always one to give back to his community. He lived this principle throughout his life and set a standard of civic leadership. He was a board member for Wisconsin Dells High School for nine years and served as president; Wisconsin Dells city council member for 13 years; on the board of directors with the Visitor and Convention Bureau for many years and instrumental with the Commodores business promotion; Sauk County board of directors for ten years; longtime Rotarian helping coordinate the live beef raffle during WoZhaWa; township of Delton member to his last day; and member of the Greater Sauk County Community Foundation. His personal conservation involvements included Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Walleyes Forever and Whitetails of North America. He was also an avid gun collector, attending gun shows with his pals and his boys and was an N.R.A. member.

Pete was passionate about collecting, driving and refurbishing any and all kinds of cars. Wherever he and Ann would go Pete would take the wheel, whether in the Dells or on their frequent road trips around the U.S. (he didn’t particularly favor air travel), especially in the southwest where they loved visiting. He was a fixture in WoZhaWa parades, chauffeuring the parade marshals.

Peter is survived by Ann, his wife of 53 years; sons, Jason Tollaksen and Aaron (Sophie) Tollaksen; a daughter, Kathryn (Katie) Tollaksen; a brother, John (Shirley) Tollaksen; and seven grandchildren, Aaron Russell, Halle Kate, Lauren, Duke, Peyton, Nolan and Piper. He was preceded in death by his parents; and a brother, Steven.

Deeply committed to his wife and family, Pete had a presence and gregarious nature that was uniquely his. People recount him as welcoming, conversationally engaging, always interesting and gracious. They warmed to Pete quickly, recognizing his willingness to converse and share stories about his passions and interests and the Dells. Many remember a toast he shared every chance he could, “Here, stop and spend a social hour...., In harmless mirth and fun…., Let friendship reign, be just and kind and evil speak of none”. No doubt he’d want others to carry the toast forward.

The Picha Funeral Home and Crematory of Wisconsin Dells, Wis. assisted the family with arrangements. For online condolences and information, go to


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