Earl W. Stechmesser, 98, passed away peacefully at his home in Kiel on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020.
He was born Nov. 19, 1922 on his family farm in Two Rivers, son of the late Charles and Emma (Schwake) Stechmesser.
After graduating from Mishicot High School in 1939, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, serving as a radio operator and gunner. He flew 25 missions during World War II, including flying “The Hump,” a dangerous airlift operation that crossed the Himalayan foothills that supplied Chinese forces fighting Japan. After returning Earl worked for Tecumseh Products in New Holstein for many years, and retired as a supervisor in 1984. In his younger days, Earl enjoyed hunting, fishing, and horseshoes; golfing and bowling became his passions later in life. Being a self-taught woodcarver, he created many beautiful true-to-life sculptures of ducks and fish.
Earl married the love of his life, Helen J. Fritsch, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sherwood on June 13, 1953. Blessed with an extraordinarily happy marriage, Earl looked forward to spending free time with his beloved Helen. They enjoyed cocktails, crossword puzzles, and played cribbage nightly to determine who would do the dishes. He delighted in doting on Helen, taking her dancing, and traveling around the country. Over time they visited almost every state. Helen preceded him in death on July 4, 2016.
Earl and Helen supported the endeavors of Kiel High School and were avid Raiders fans. Earl was also a member of the Kiel VFW Post #6707.
Earl’s sincere, light-hearted, and cheerful nature was evident in everything he did. He exemplified living in the present moment with a glass-half-full outlook. He will be greatly missed.
Earl is survived by his sister-in-law, Elaine Orth, of Newton; and many special nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Helen; two brothers and sisters-in-law, William (Mabel) and Elmer (Marie) Stechmesser; two sisters and brothers-in-law, Adeline (Carl) Kuether and Eunice (Jack) Knocke; and brother-in-law Francis Orth.
On Friday, Dec. 4 at 11 a.m., Earl will be laid to rest next to his wife in SS. Peter & Paul Catholic Cemetery, Kiel at a public graveside service with military honors accorded by the Kiel VFW Post #6707. A memorial celebration for Earl and Helen will be tentatively planned for next summer after COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
The Meiselwitz-Vollstedt Funeral Home, Kiel is assisting the family with funeral arrangements. Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.meiselwitzfh.com.