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Longtime community volunteer, Korean War veteran Louie Ferris dies at 91

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Longtime community figure and dedicated volunteer Louie Ferris has died at age 91, officials confirmed on Thursday, after a battle with cancer.

Longtime community volunteer Louie Ferris dies at 91

Louie Ferris visits with World War II vets at an unveiling of a new memorial in September. Ferris was an instrumental volunteer in the community, spearheading many different initiatives, largely in honor of fellow veterans.

Ferris, a veteran of the Korean War, was an instrumental volunteer in the community and dedicated his life to giving back. He once said he was always working somewhere “behind the scenes” in the community.

He spearheaded the city’s Veterans Freedom Park, which just welcomed a new World War II memorial in September. Around 200 people gathered for the ceremony, with Ferris preceding over the unveiling.

La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds called Ferris a “tremendous member of our community,” at the La Crosse Common Council meeting Thursday night. Reynolds said that Ferris had passed away earlier that morning.

“I’ve known Louie for at least 20 years, and he was here last month to lead us in the pledge of allegiance on Veterans Day,” Reynolds said. “I called him that day, that morning and asked him to be a part of that and to lead us in that pledge. And he said yes, because that’s what he always did. He always just said yes to whatever organization asked him for help, whatever cause needed his help.

“He created an example for the rest for us to follow in terms of service to our community and frankly our nation as a whole. There are few people that I’ve met in my life that had the arrival to commitment to service than (Louie),” Reynolds said, saying he left a “tremendous legacy” in the community.

Louie Ferris

Born on La Crosse’s North Side, Ferris joined the National Guard while still in High School, and later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force where he served in the Korean War for eight years.

He told the Tribune in a story earlier this year that his dedication to service was instilled by his family and the generations that came before him, and highlighted the importance of passing that dedication on to the next generation.

After his service in the military, Ferris was passionate about bettering his home community of La Crosse. He supported veterans affairs — including as a loyal advocate for Hmong-Lao veterans — volunteered for women’s shelters, bolstered a variety of community fundraisers, mentored young adults and much more.

“Louie, not bad for a North Sider, as he would say,” Reynolds said.

“La Crosse lost a true friend. Louie Ferris was an all-around great man, a tireless advocate for his fellow veterans and loved La Crosse with his whole heart,” Sen. Brad Pfaff, D-Onalaska, said in a social media post on Thursday.

Representative Ron Kind in a statement to the Tribune noted Ferris will be “greatly missed.”

“I was deeply saddened to learn of Louie Ferris’s passing. From serving our country in the military to serving our community here at home, Louie dedicated his life to helping others,” Kind said. “There was nothing he couldn’t accomplish when he set his mind to something.

“He was a tireless advocate for many causes, but above all he always worked to honor our veterans. Louie’s great legacy is Veterans Freedom Park and the war memorials he built with the help of others, so visitors can pause to remember those who served and sacrificed for our nation. Louie was a wonderful person, a giant in our community, and a dear friend of mine.”

This is a developing story and may be updated.

Louie Ferris

Louie Ferris plays Taps during a 2012 Korean War Veterans Ceremony.

Louie Ferris
Louie Ferris: Thank the greatest generation at dedication of WWII memorial
WATCH NOW: Community comes together to welcome new WWII veteran's memorial in La Crosse

"He created an example for the rest for us to follow in terms of service to our community and frankly our nation as a whole."

Mayor Mitch Reynolds


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