ONALASKA — Donald Dean Wenger, 76, formerly of Onalaska, died on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, at the Bethany Riverside Care Center. He was born to Russell G. and Lucy L. (Konter) Wenger on Sept. 26, 1937, in Montana Township, Buffalo County, Wis. Don graduated from Aquinas High School in 1955. He then joined the Navy after graduation and served aboard the USS Mauna Kea. He married his high school sweetheart, Rose Marie Gautsch (they later divorced). Prior to joining the La Crosse Police Department, he worked for the La Crosse Glass Company, in which he designed and crafted many beautiful stained glass windows in the La Crosse area and throughout the Midwest, including windows at Purdue University. He then joined the ranks of the La Crosse Police Department as a patrolman in 1969. Through his hard work and dedication he was promoted to detective sergeant and police science educator leading to his retirement in February of 1993. He was married to Patricia Peplinski on March 7, 1981. She preceded him in death on May 19, 2001.
His life's passions were race cars and 4X4s, fishing, hunting, gardening, stained glass, Boy Scouts, the Packers, and his later-in-life passion of being the ultimate "Hockey Dad." Throughout his life he was an avid sportsman and loved the great outdoors, including photographing the beautiful Wisconsin landscape he enjoyed so well. After retirement, Don continued his love of the outdoors and animals by working at Gander Mountain as well as devoting more time to his children and grandchildren.
He is survived by his children, Tess (Dale) Larson, Elizabeth (Bill) Keller, Wendy Wenger, Beckie (Jeff) Schulz, Amanda (Eric) Odegaard and Kris (Jennie) Wenger; grandchildren, Stephanie, Lindsay, Austin, Alexis, Katie, Lucy, Jackson, Westley and one Wenger on the way; great-grandchildren, Lilly, Leighton and Lauren; a sister, Mary Ann Snapp; a brother, Dave (Bette) Wenger; a very loved friend, Lori Patros; many in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews. In addition to his wife Patricia, Don was preceded in death by a son, John "Jack" Wenger; a granddaughter, Kacey Larson; his parents; and brother-in-law, George Snapp Jr.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. at Mary, Mother of the Church Parish at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. The Rev. Douglas Robertson will officiate. Burial will be in the Onalaska City Cemetery. Friends may call at the Schumacher-Kish Funeral & Cremation Service of La Crosse on Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. and at the church on Monday from 9:30 a.m. until the time of services.
Don's family would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the staff at Bethany-Riverside, especially the staff on the 400 Wing of The Lighthouse for the wonderful care given to Don. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Onalaska Hockey Association and/or the La Crosse Police K-9 Unit in Don's name. Online guestbook is available at www.schumacher-kish.com.