Around the Bend By Judy Steffes

Allan Kieckhafer wins Cliff and Betty Nelson Volunteer Leadership Award

Allan Kieckhafer of West Bend is this year’s winner of the Cliff and Betty Nelson Volunteer Leadership Award.

During an interview Thursday morning at Kieckhafer’s home overlooking Big Cedar Lake the 94-and-a-half year old spoke enthusiastically about his dedication to West Bend.

Kieckhafer noted, the only other time he had been this thrilled about being recognized was when Betty Pearson with the West Bend Chamber of Commerce recognized him in May 1987. It was a day the mayor proclaimed Allan Kieckhafer Day.

Over the years the Kieckhafer has spent his time, talent and treasure giving back to the community. Those qualities are something the past winners of the award look for in a recipient.

The United Way of Washington County created the Clifford A. and Elizabeth M. Nelson Volunteer Leadership Award to honor an individual in Washington County who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to volunteering.

The award is named in honor of West Bend resident Cliff and his wife Betty, known for their outstanding volunteer efforts on behalf of human service, civic, and arts organizations. Allan Kieckhafer shaking hands with a scout

Kieckhafer is a strong advocate for the Boy Scouts, Kieckhafer has also been a supporter of the Museum of Wisconsin Art, Veterans in West Bend and UWM at Washington County.

Friend Nancy Mehring worked for Kieckhafer when she was 18 years old. “He was my boss at the West Bend Aluminum Company,” said Mehring. “Allan is a doer as well as a giver. He is the most lovable man, he always has a smile for everyone and the best thing about him when I worked for him was he was always kind and a gentleman.”

Betty Nelson said she has known Kieckhafer since they went to Sunday school and kindergarten together. “It’s good he got the award because Allan has been involved in more stuff than you can imagine,” she said.

“He’s always been the chairman for the Memorial Day celebration and Veterans Day, Kettle Moraine Symphony, the Museum of Wisconsin Art, UW-Washington County, and he’s been in scouting for years. “He’s very loyal to friends,” said Nelson. “When people in our high school class died from the Class of 1941, he still went to their funerals. They may not have been much of friends through the later years but he’s so loyal.”

Previous winners of the award were part of the selection committee and Kieckhafer was a unanimous choice.

United Way’s Volunteer Leadership Award was created to recognize an individual in Washington County who has demonstrated community leadership and a long-term commitment to volunteering. The award is named in honor of the late Cliff Nelson and his wife Betty, who are known for their outstanding volunteer efforts on behalf of human service, civic, and arts organizations. Each year, past Nelson Award winners nominate and select a new recipient.

“United Way has a legacy of bringing people together to improve lives and community conditions,” said Kristin Brandner, Executive Director of United Way of Washington County. “This award celebrates leaders in our community who do just that. It honors volunteers who have spent a lifetime giving their time and talents to make a lasting impact in Washington County.”

“Allan Kieckhafer is a dedicated and treasured member of this community,” Brandner said.  “His unwavering support of so many organizations and projects that are integral to Washington County is astounding.  Everyone on the selection committee felt that without his commitment and support, this community would not be what it is today.”

Kieckhafer is the oldest living United Way Campaign Chair. In 1977 he was the first to achieve the $100,000 milestone for the annual fundraising drive.

As a proud Navy veteran, Kieckhafer has spent over 40 years as a member of the Memorial Day services committee for the City of West Bend, and has performed the role of Master of Ceremonies for many years.

Kieckhafer established Boy Scout Troop 780 at Fifth Avenue Methodist Church and continued working on behalf of the Boy Scouts for over 50 years as President of the Badger Boy Scout Council and a Trustee for the Bay Lakes Council. He was awarded the Silver Beaver award for his outstanding service to the Boy Scouts.

Additionally, he was instrumental in founding the University Ambassadors council at the University of Wisconsin in Washington County. He served as the Council President in 1975 and continues to act as an Ambassador at the campus. Kieckhafer has also volunteered as an Ambassador and a member of the Executive Board for the West Bend area Chamber of Commerce. He is an active member of the Noon Rotary Club of West Bend, and has received 10 Paul Harris awards for his support of the organization.

A life-long resident of West Bend, Kieckhafer spent 38 years at the West Bend Aluminum Company working in sales management. “Allan has done so much for our community,” said Nancy Mehring, who worked with Kieckhafer at the West Bend Aluminum Company.

Assistant Fire Chief in Waubeka killed in motorcycle accident

Bruce Koehler, 53, of Waubeka, passed away unexpectedly following a motorcycle accident Friday night. Bruce was born in Port Washington on June 22, 1965, son of Frederick “Fritz” Koehler Jr. and Betty Reimer Koehler. From an early age Bruce’s family always came first. He grew up in Little Kohler, helping the family in their businesses, Lehn’s Catering and Lehn’s Tavern. He took pride in starting his mother’s school bus for her every morning and caring for the Koehler Family Pond. He attended school in Random Lake, graduating with the class of 1983.

Bruce worked as a Head Maintenance Engineer for the Clothes Clinic in West Bend.

His calling in life was helping people. He was a longtime member of the Waubeka Fire Department where he currently held the rank of Assistant Chief, a team leader for the HazMat Team and a Rescue Boat Crew member for Ozaukee County Emergency Management, President of MABAS Division 119, a member of the Southeast Wisconsin Incident Management Team, an advisor for the Random Lake Area District Explorers Program, a member of the Ozaukee County and the Wisconsin State Fire Chief’s Associations, and the Badger Firefighters Association.

Funeral services will be celebrated Saturday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 824 Fredonia Ave., Fredonia. Visitation will take place at the church from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. when the Fire Department walk-through will take place.

Morrie’s Honda officially breaks ground in West Bend

The crew from the new Morrie’s Honda gathered in West Bend on Thursday morning, Nov. 1, at the corner of Highway 33 and Scenic Drive to introduce themselves and talk about the future of the dealership. Karl Schmidt, CEO with Morrie’s Automotive, started his career with Morrie’s about 30 years ago. Watch for the new store to open in July/August 2019.

Five players from UWM at Washington Co. volleyball make WCC All-Conference

UWM at Washington County placed five players on the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference All-Conference Volleyball team.

Kayla Boehm led the Eastern Division with 83 kills as a middle hitter and hitting at a 46% kill rate. She also led the division with 30 blocks. Boehm was selected First Team All-Conference and named Player of the Year.

Kayla Schommer led the Eastern division in two categories as a setter, she had 179 assists for kills, and also had a division high 42 ace serves with 93% serving accuracy.  Schommer also had 19 kills and 38 digs.  She was selected First Team All-Conference and named Setter of the Year for a second year in a row.

Catherine Tucker was our defensive specialist and led the Eastern Division with 184 digs. She also had 17 ace serves with a 94% serving accuracy. Tucker was selected First Team All-Conference and named Defensive Specialist of the Year.

Breanna Cronin was an outside hitter and ranked No. 3 in the Eastern Division for attacks and defense. She had 61 kills with a 40% kill rate, 73 digs, 27 ace serves with an 89% serving accuracy. Cronin was selected First Team All-Conference.

Morgan Kappler was an outside hitter and ranked 5th in the Eastern Division for attacks and defense. She had 47 kills with a 35% kill rate, 16 ace serves, serving accuracy at 89% and 67 digs.  Kappler was selected Second Team All-Conference.

Coach Debbie Butschlick said, “I am so proud of these players especially all the hard work they put into the season. The Conference coaches truly saw the skills each one of our players had. To have one or two players make the WCC All-Conference Team is a blessing when there are seven teams in the Eastern Division, but to have five players on the All-Conference team and three players receiving the highest honors given by the Conference is truly amazing. Even though five players received the honors, it was an entire team effort to have such an outstanding season.”

Construction begins on new West Bend Fleet Farm

The logging trucks and bulldozers have cleared a majority of the trees from the nearly 42-acre lot as contractors make way for the 192,000-square-foot Fleet Farm to the south of Highway 33 just east of County Highway Z. An aerial view shows a tree line to the south at the back of the lot. Black fabric outlines the edge of the proposed development to the west. Reddish-orange fencing circles a small wetland area in what appears the near middle of the property.

Along with the new store there will also be 652 parking stalls and another 7,100-square-foot convenience store. About a mile east on Highway 33 the old Fleet Farm on 18th Avenue sports its seasons sign touting “Toyland Now Open.” It’s the last time that sign will be displayed at this location as the new Fleet Farm is scheduled to be completed September 9, 2019.

Updates & Tidbits

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6 and polls open at 7 a.m.

-The West Bend Common Council will hold its regular Monday night meeting at the Museum of Wisconsin Art on Nov. 5 as elected officials pay tribute to veterans. The event is organized by Common Sense Citizens of Washington County.

– The development of a new sports complex at Regner Park is moving along quickly. Within the last two weeks the land has been cleared, fencing removed, cement poured and now six basketball hoops are in place.

-The Kettle Moraine Symphony will honor veterans during its concert Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 at 3 p.m. Free admission for Veterans. The community celebrates its veterans when KMS collaborates with local organizations to honor Americans who have served in the military.

– Tickets go on sale Nov. 11 for the amazing Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops Concert on Dec. 11 at the West Bend High Schools Silver Lining Arts Center.

– The Kettle Moraine Lutheran Chargers fell to East Troy in the WIAA Division 2 State Championship at the Resch Center in Green Bay. East Troy (31-8) def. Kettle Moraine Lutheran (31-11) – 25-22, 25-19, 25-13.

A strong turnout of volunteers Saturday morning help sweep clean Veterans Plaza in West Bend as we count down the days to Nov. 11 and Veterans Day. Thanks to all who helped give of their time and talents.

– A burial will be held Sunday, Nov. 4 for Robert B. Pick II, 76, who passed away peacefully in his sleep on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 after a brief illness at Froedert Hospital in Milwaukee.

– A huge thank you to members of the West Bend Noon Rotary Club: Chris Wenzel, Amanda Follett, Jerry Mehring and Richard Klumb. These Rotarians helped the Downtown West Bend Association remove the ArtWalk banners from the light poles this week.

– Grab your family and bundle up because the 32nd Annual Hartford Christmas Parade is just around the corner. The theme of the Nov. 10 parade is “Christmas Lights.” Start time is 3 p.m.

Large turnout to remember Bob Neja

A large turnout Tuesday as neighbors, friends and family turned out to pay their respects to Bob Neja. Robert H. Neja, 84, of West Bend, entered Eternal Life with Jesus on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 after 62 wonderful years of marriage with Anne “Dolly” Neja. Bob passed away at home, surrounded by his family, after his battle with pancreatic cancer.

During the funeral Mass at St. Frances Cabrini, Neja’s youngest son Peter offered some kind words about his father.

This will be brief so please pay attention. Thank you all for coming to celebrate the life of an amazing man. Bob Neja.

Dad was a very disciplined yet sensitive and sometimes goofy man. He was an incredible husband, dad, gramps, friend, teacher, athlete and coach.

He spent his life walking with Jesus. In fact during his final weeks reflecting alone in his bedroom, saying the rosary daily with his Dolly and getting to Mass were more important than the Brewers or anything else.

Everyone around him benefited from his faith and lifestyle, especially his Dolly. Bob and Anne’s bond is one that people pray for.

Young Bob was smitten with Anne from the start. So much that his competitive nature faltered at his high school teammates repeatedly nag him for arriving late to practice because he was off gallivanting with his Anne.  As they spent more time together they developed an unwavering love for one another that continued for 62 years.

While celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary one of Bob’s grandchildren asked Gramps, “What advice can you offer to make it through 60 years of marriage?” With complete sincerity he instantly replied, “To marry Anne.”

As they built a family it was no surprise that he emulated that same level of love onto his kids and grandkids. The Nejas’ lives were full of fun and competition, family vacations, lots of games, cards included!

He was always up for celebrating as long as it didn’t involve fireworks, which he made us watch from the car to avoid the crowd.

Obviously Dad was competitive. He competed, sometimes intensely, and always in a fun way.

For example at a family reunion softball game he picked up third base and ran away with it to keep his nephew from scoring. If he was losing you sure would hear about it, but it was all in good lighthearted fun and certainly nothing a brownie with extra frosting would not fix.

People may think it’s difficult to be in high school with a parent as a teacher. Dad was so well respected by colleagues, students and athletes that he made it is easy for us. We all were so proud to have him as our father.

Although leading many teams to championships as an athlete and coach led to inductions into several Halls of Fame, Dad’s real legacy was the positive influence he had on lives.

You see, being a teacher and coach was not just a job for Neej, but a way of life.

His philosophy was “grow the kids into great people first and hopefully enjoy winning along the way.”

No matter what subject he taught or sport he coached or where he bumped into you, Dad would have an ever lasting impact on your life.

As I lived Dad again for the past 3 to 4 months I was reminded about how much of a positive effect you had on the lives he touched. So many students, athletes, friends and family reached out by visiting him in person, by calling and by sending notes.

Dad had the gift of making anyone feel like they were special and his priority.

In turn his family loved and respected him in a way that drove them to strive at following in his footsteps living a loving, faithful lifestyle that Neej could be proud o.

He was a role model for the entire Neja clan and everyone close to him.

His impact will continue to live on and the world is a better place because of him. Amen!

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