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1547, 07 Sep 20

Around the Bend by Judy Steffes

Tribute to Mark Jug

It is with a heavy heart to relay the news that Mark Jug, 67, founder of MJ Stevens Pub & Restaurant and founder of McJugger’s Saloon & Grill, has died.

Jug passed Friday night at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. Tributes are below with many comments received referring to Mark Jug as “legend.”

Doreen Laatsch works at Jug’s and got her first job at MJ Stevens. She said the news spread quickly Friday night as staff at Jug’s Hitching Post in Kohlsville was told of his passing.

“He was amazing, wonderful, and he loved everybody he employed,” said Laatsch. “He wanted everybody to enjoy a good meal and enjoy life. In his new bar in Dundee, McJuggers, he had a stained glass made and it was written in Italian ‘In beer there is truth’ and he was so proud of that and he said that a lot.”

Laatsch met Mark Jug in 1989 when she first went to MJ Stevens for a fish fry.

“Isn’t it ironic that he passed away on a fish fry Friday,” she said. “It’s also Labor Day weekend; he employed so many and he passed away on Labor Day weekend.”

Laatsch said Mark Jug always offered a place where people could come and rest their burdens.

“He was proud of his food and if you didn’t like something he made sure you liked it,” she said. “He touched so many lives and so many people were crying last night when Jason called and told us.

“The college kids grew up in this restaurant. They’d go away to school and then when they came home they would have their job back,” said Laatsch. “It’s like we were all his children.”

Jug had been hospitalized since mid-August. He had been planning to open McJugger’s Saloon in Dundee.

In February 2018 Mark Jug sold MJ Stevens. He said at the time…

“You know I feel it was time to go a little smaller,” he said. “I’ve worked 32 years here.”

It was 1979 when Jug took over the Long Branch in Barton. In 1985 he took over the bar that ran alongside then Highway 41. “It was called the Timber Inn,” he said. Owners were John Kreilkamp and Harold Hefter.

“I leased it from them for three years and then I bought it,” said Jug.

Over three decades there were plenty of memorable moments at MJ Stevens. “We had two New Year’s Eves in a row that we got hit with snowstorms and we lost both those nights,” said Jug.

If that wasn’t bad enough… “We also had two Father’s Days in a row and some guy hit a pole and knocked all of our electricity out and then the next year Mother Nature hit something electrical again and down we went that year too,” he said. “How the hell does that happen?”

Over the years the “traditional pub-style restaurant with an old-world traditional flavor” grew in popularity. Neighbors would wait an hour for a Friday fish fry, prime rib or Sunday brunch. The time would pass swiftly with a Bloody Mary at the bar or a traditional Old Fashioned.

Jug credits his 80 employees for making the business a success. During a recent Christmas party he made a list of all his long-time employees and read it aloud.

“When we started here it was just Brian the bartender, Manny, who is still with me, he was the server and I did the cooking and dishes,” said Jug. “The first Friday we sold 25 pounds of fish and I was so happy. Now we do 600 – 700 pounds.”

After a heavy pause Jug admitted he had been thinking about selling the business for a while. “It’s a big place; big operation,” he said. “I’m going to do something… it’s going to be hard to let go here.”

Scott Ritger is with the Slinger-Allenton Rotary.

“Mark was a one of a kind, a very thoughtful man who never forgot someone once he meet them. Our Slinger-Allenton Rotary club meetings were graciously hosted by Mark and his staff at MJ’s for more than 10 years already when I joined the group back in 2014.

The day of my induction ceremony Mark took time out of his busy day to attend and was standing in the back of the room the entire time. As the ceremony wrapped up he came up to me and said whenever you stop in here next, you come find me and the first drink is on me while you tell me about your goals for this incredible club.

Every time since then when we stopped in for lunch or dinner at MJ’s, if Mark was there and spotted me, the first drink was already waiting. Mark leaves behind an incredible legacy that will far outlive him. He was a dedicated man of his word and always made sure everyone was taken care of and happy. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who can fill Mark Jug’s shoes.”

John Fritsch: “Hearing of the passing of Mark Jug is a sad time. He was a great person who cared and always said hi to you. Whether he knew you or not. He welcomed you to his restaurant like you were part of his family. I had a couple of his children in my classes when I was teaching. His kids were just like him, always polite and had a smile on their faces. He will be missed by all. He would put out his hand to shake when he came by your table or walking in his place. His food and service were 5 star service every time you went to eat at M.J. Stevens. Prayers and thoughts go out the family of Mark as well to all his former and current employees were also part of his family. Thank you Mark for years of service and knowing you. You will be missed ALL.”

Bob Bonenfant was a frequent visitor to MJ Stevens. “He was successful at whatever endeavor he attempted. If you were around here anytime over the past 40 years you either had a drink or something to eat at one of his places. He was a very nice guy.”

Rick Taetsch: “Mark, rest in peace, fantastic human being, the world will miss you, your kindness, caring, thoughtfulness, and deep laugh will live forever in our memories.. He provided so much joy in his personality, he enjoyed an adult beverage with his friends,

Loved his families, great businessman, heck of a restaurant owner, gave back to the community, Made strong lasting relationships.. Mark enjoy story time with Brain. “Absolutely superb “

Randy Geier has been a friend of Mark Jugs for the last 30+ years.

“My wife, Dawn , worked for him for 30 years at MJs and I for the last 22 years. He was just the nicest, decent, most caring person I’ve ever met. It was a pleasure to work for him, because with Mark you weren’t just an employee, you were family.

He truly cared deeply about his customers and that they have a great dining experience at MJs because with Mark the customer always came first. The things Mark did out of the public eye, the people and families he’s helped are a testament to the big giving heart he had. He will be missed by so many people.”

Funeral details will be posted when information becomes available.

Swarm of bees descend on home in West Bend

It was a quiet Saturday afternoon as a West Bend couple awaited the start of the Kentucky Derby…. and then the swarm of bees arrived.

“From the round plant by the berm there was a swarm of bees that landed in the yard,” said Lori. “It was like locusts. It is insane, they were everywhere.”

Lori sent this message: Ok… so this happened today….. about noon a locust-like swarm invaded the southeast side of our yard. It was insane, not knowing what it was! Well it turned out to be a bee swarm…they decided to make a temporary home in our tree by the pool.

A video provided by the homeowner shows a sunny afternoon at a home off 18th Avenue and while it is difficult to see … trust her, it is bees. A lot of bees. “They started going away but 10 minutes later I see them in the tree,” she said.

The bees have enveloped a tree branch. “They are hanging on each other.” Early word is the queen bee is in the middle of the cake of bees.

Neighbors flocked to see the swarm of bees. “I told them $2 a picture,” said Lori. “What else can happen in 2020? These are the Rona bees.” If anyone wants to professionally remove the bees, please message me and I will put you in touch with the homeowner.

Addison and Nathan’s summer butterfly project

Their classmates may not know it but Addison, 6, and Nathan, 7, of West Bend are entomologists and they spent the summer improving their education as lepidopterists.

Together the brother and sister raised over 100 monarch butterflies and they know so much …. they could teach a class. “The boy butterflies have a spot on the inside of their wings and the girls don’t,” said Addison. “That’s how you tell the difference between a boy butterfly and a girl butterfly.”

The kids and their mom, Katy Moon, have been raising butterflies for several years. They have a garden full of milkweed and colorful flowers and they’ve built a large enclosure with netting and sticks to watch as their science project moves through the stages from egg to caterpillar and then chrysalis to butterfly.

“We find them (the eggs) under the bottom of the leaves of milkweed,” said Nathan. “My mom had the idea of raising them because they’re getting extinct.”

The family glued sticks inside the frame of the butterfly house. After the caterpillars would spin into a chrysalis the kids would attach those to the sticks and watch the metamorphosis; within 10 days the green chrysalis would turn transparent and a black and orange butterfly would emerge.

“I like it because we get to release the butterflies after we hold them,” said Nathan..

Honoring Marilyn Merten

Family, friends, and elected officials gathered at Washington County Fair Park on Wednesday evening to pay tribute to long-time County Board Supervisor Marilyn Merten.

Merten was honored with a plaque that read: In honor of Marilyn Merten.

Celebrating her years of service to the citizens of Washington County and the Town of Polk as a County Board Supervisor, County clerk, Germantown School Board Member, Town of Polk Municipal Clerk, and Town of Polk Municipal Treasurer. As an avid supporter of the communities and people who she represented, her dedication to the ideals of public service were so greatly appreciated.

Marilyn Merten is recognized for her contributions as the Town of Polk Municipal Clerk and Municipal Treasurer, a Germantown School Board member from 1977 to 1998, the first female Washington County Clerk from 1994 to 2005, a member of the County Board Supervisors from 2008 to 2020, a member of the Washington County Historical Society Board from 2008 – 2018, and a member of the Agricultural and Industrial Society Board since 2008.  On behalf of a grateful County, we dedicate this permanent symbol of our gratitude and appreciation.

Former Washington County Board Chairman Ken Miller could not be in attendance and sent a note to be read at the event.

Dear Marilyn,   I am so sorry I cannot attend your retirement from the County Board.

Our paths have paralleled for quite some time starting with the Republican Party, through the years at the County up to the Ag-Industrial Society.

During those years we worked together on numerous projects, through some turbulence, but always came to a solution.

I was always impressed with your perfection no matter what. (Sometimes a bit annoyed as you know perfection was not one of my better traits). Whether it was grounds keeping, elections, minutes, rules of order and the list goes on. This was the case, even when personal adversity struck, you were always there.

Through all that, it has been and still is a pleasure to work with you. I wish you all the best and thank you for your tireless service to the people of the county.  God Bless, Ken Miller

Merten was humbled by the recognition. “I never expected anything like this… I just did what I did,” she said.

Baskin Robbins history in West Bend

As the Baskin Robbins / Dunkin store nears completion on W. Washington Street in West Bend we pause to look back when Baskin Robbins / 31 Flavors was first in the community.

Kathy Leisman Suchon was a teenager in West Bend when her parents, Ken and Shirley Leisman, opened the first Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Store in the West Bend Plaza.

“It was by the old Kohl’s Food Store in the mall on Main Street,” said Suchon. “On the other end of the mall was Alston’s clothing store and we were right in that middle by the garden area on the right-hand side. I remember the whole front and side of the store were all windows.”

Suchon also remembered a Ben Franklin in the strip mall and RadioShack, 842. S Main Street. (RadioShack filed bankruptcy Feb. 5, 2015. The store in the West Bend Plaza closed at the end of May 2015.)

“My mom and dad opened the Baskin Robbins in 1974 and we had it until 1978,” she said. “Right about the time we first opened you could buy a coupon for a $1 and it had four squares and each square was worth one scoop of ice cream. So, each scoop was a quarter which was pretty amazing,” she said.

Suchon’s brother was 14 years old when he worked at Baskin Robbins. He said minimum wage was $2 an hour when he started.

The many windows at the store became a marketing tool as Suchon’s mother came up with a clever plan.

“She would call the grade schools and elementary schools and they would have an art class come and paint murals on the windows; it was mainly during the holidays,” she said. “My mom thought it was neat to have the kids paint the windows and then for the next month the kids could bring their parents and show them what part of the mural they painted and then have an ice cream. My parents were very family focused and thought that was a neat program.”

In 1976 with the Great Ice Storm on March 6 and 7 the power went out at the store. “We had so many tubs of ice cream in the freezer and we didn’t know what to do,” said Suchon. “The National Guard was in town with headquarters based at Badger Middle School. My parents took all the ice cream over to Badger School and scooped ice cream for all the National Guard members that were there.”

Suchon said her parents got into the ice cream business because they really wanted to do something together. “They thought what is better than an ice cream parlor that brings families together and everyone is happy when they get ice cream and they just thought it would be really fun,” she said.

For a teenage perspective it was fun. “It absolutely was fun,” Suchon said. “We always had ice cream in the freezer at our house. Most of my birthday parties were at the store and my friends would love to come and be able to scoop their own ice cream.”

One of the interesting things about the franchise was the Baskin Robbins headquarters was is in Burbank, California. “It is warm there 12 months of the year and having a shop in Wisconsin was definitely different. Not too many people are thinking about ice cream when it is below zero, so that was definitely a challenge,” said Suchon.

Something funny Suchon’s mom always chuckled was the selection of flavors.  “Every month a lot of the flavors changed.  We had a bubblegum ice cream that was popular and a daiquiri ice that was popular. But my mom laughed because of all the different flavors of ice cream my favorite was vanilla and that is still true today,” she said.

The Leismans sold Baskin Robbins to a woman but within a year the store closed completely.

“Still to this day when I come back to West Bend, I visit the store site. I had a lot of fun memories with my mom and dad,” said Suchon.

Milton Kenneth “Ken” Leisman  Feb. 10, 1928 — Feb. 25, 2015. He was 87 years old.

Ken was born Feb. 10, 1928, in Oconomowoc, the oldest son of Mavis (Schirmacher) and Rev. Milton B. Leisman. Ken graduated from Columbus High School in 1946 and then enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he served as a Staff Sergeant in Japan and Germany. After serving his country, he attended Northland College in Ashland. While attending college, he met his future wife, Shirley Ann Holvick, whom he married on Sept. 8, 1951.

Ken graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a B.S. in Journalism in 1953. He worked as an advertising manager and technical writer, but his most rewarding job was owning and operating a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream store in West Bend. Ken loved playing cards, traveling in his RV, listening to big band music, watching Green Bay Packer games and spending time with his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed volunteering for the West Bend Communication Patrol and was honored with a Community Service Award in 1982. He was a lifetime member of the VFW. He is preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Shirley Leisman.

Silver Spring Collision in West Bend sold to Crash Champions

It was 1996 when Joe Lamberty moved his business, Silver Spring Collision, to West Bend.  “This spot at 3000 W. Washington Street used to be home to the Golden Knight Supper Club,” said Lamberty.

In the late 1980s Art Von Schloedorn, Ernie Von Schloedorn’s son, had the property for a used car lot. At the time Lamberty owned a self-serve car wash up the street. “Art came in and said his dad wanted him to give up the car lot in West Bend and run one of the dealerships in Mayville,” he said.

Lamberty offered to buy the property and build a body shop; that was the start of Silver Spring Collision in West Bend.  “I knocked over the restaurant and we opened the body shop in April 1998,” he said. “I’ve been here ever since.”

At the time Lamberty’s neighbors included Young’s Royal Ford-Lincoln-Mercury Inc. across the street. “The self-serve car wash I owned is where the Russ Darrow Chrysler dealership is now. I sold that to Steve Kearns and he tipped it over and built Kearns Motor Cars and then sold it to Darrow,” said Lamberty. Kiddie corner was the old Devenport family farm, now home to Morrie’s Honda and down the street the Holiday Inn and later Fanta Suites.

Silver Spring Collision started as a 12,000-square-foot shop; a 13,500-square-foot addition was quickly built to the east. Lamberty also had a 2.5-acre parking lot out back.

On Tuesday, the office at the 30-bay autobody shop was operating at a NASCAR pace as members of the incoming team, Crash Champions, was setting up shop to take over.  “It has been a wonderful run and I get along good with the insurance companies and we kept growing and growing and now it is time for me to step back and let the younger generation take over,” said Lamberty.

At 69 years old, Lamberty said he “knew it was time.”

“I’d rather do this while I’m healthy and I still have some years where I can travel,” he said.

Choosing to work with Crash Champions came after a lot of research according to Lamberty. “My son and all the 14 employees will stay on board,” he said. “That’s what the beauty is with this whole deal; they are a standup company. We worked 10 months on this deal.”

Lamberty said the company is straight forward. “These guys are coming into this building and they’re making an investment into the employees and the community,” he said. “We were state-of-the-art but they are going to update that and run with it. They have a network of 50 shops and they’re on top of their game.”

Asked what was ahead for retirement. “I don’t know. I’ve got to decompress and tie up the deal here,” he said.

Questioned what was one of his most significant memories about running the shop. “In all these years, 24 years I’ve never had any vandalism, no theft and I only had two bounced checks,” said Lamberty. “That is phenomenal.”

Lamberty started his shop at 16th and Silver Spring in 1987. “I was renting various buildings in Butler and Brookfield and I ended up on Silver Spring running a body shop called Silver Spring Collision,” he said. “That serviced Bob Brown Nissan, Hobbs Honda, Schlessinger Toyota and Schlessinger Nissan.”

After 13 years in business Lamberty sold his business in Brookfield and the one on Silver Spring.  “I took two years off and when I wanted to get back in again I talked to the insurance companies and asked them which area I should target Washington County and that’s how I ended up out here,” he said.

Crash Champions announced September 1, 2020, its expansion into the Milwaukee, Wisconsin market with the acquisition of Silver Spring Collision Center in West Bend, WI.

The Lamberty family owned Silver Spring Collision, 3000 W. Washington Street, West Bend, since 1983 and it has been a family owned-and-operated facility for over 40 years.

With the addition of this facility, Crash Champions continues its rapid growth strategy and expansion throughout the United States with 40 locations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and California.

“I’m excited about this location because it is a very nice well-equipped facility.  They also share our operational standards for high-quality repairs and great customer service,” said Matt Ebert, CEO of Crash Champions.  “This acquisition is another big step in our expansion as it marks our entry into the state of Wisconsin.”

On a history note:  According to Al Luedtke of West Bend the “Golden Knight was just west of the Harley-Davidson dealership which used to be Frontier Bowl.” Luedtke sold the Golden Knight in 1978 to Larry and Diane Block who named it Blocks Supper Club. They leased it to Dean Derge who turned it into a night club called City Limits.

Obituary Susan Martens, 69, formerly of West Bend

Susan Martens (nee Lockman), 69, of Newbury Park, CA passed away peacefully on August 28, 2020 after a brave fight with cancer.

Sue was born August 16, 1951 in West Bend, Wisconsin. She was preceded in death by her parents Robert and Margaret Lockman and older sister, Julie.

Sue is survived by her husband Jerry Martens, brother James (Marcia) Lockman of Eden Prairie, MN, niece Lindsay Lockman, nephew Robert Lockman and numerous cousins. Sue will always be remembered for her wonderful sense of humor and infectious laugh, which she maintained during her final days.

Sue graduated from West Bend High School in 1969. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Milton College. She pursued a career with Wang Laboratories first in Milwaukee, WI then in Minneapolis, MN.

After marriage to Jerry Martens in 1980, they moved to the Los Angeles area where Sue worked first as a civilian contractor and then directly for the U.S. Navy. Sue was never able to discuss her duties with the Navy, however from some recognition awards we know her position was Air-4. OP Facilitator supporting the Target’s Flight Clearance Process.

The family is planning a private fall ceremony to celebrate Sue’s life. Memorials in Sue’s name may be sent to Fifth Avenue Methodist Church, 323 S. Fifth Avenue, West Bend, WI 53095 or Kettle Moraine YMCA, 1111 W. Washington St., West Bend, WI 53095.


Washington County veterans participate in Honor Flight Parade

Sixteen veterans from Washington County were among 175 veterans that gathered on Canal Street on Saturday, August 29 under the shadow of Miller Park to participate in the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight Parade. The event was held to recognize veterans in light of a canceled flight to Washington D.C.

The event got underway with the singing of the National Anthem by Vintage Mix from Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Police on Harley-Davidson motorcycles then led the parade followed by the Patriot Riders and Rollin’ Thunder motorcycle groups.

Veterans from Washington County that participated in the Honor Flight Parade are listed below

Daniel Barney            West Bend     Army  Vietnam/Vietnam

Robert Duehring       Kewaskum    Army  Vietnam/Vietnam

Thomas Farvour      Germantown       Army  Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Preston Jackson      West Bend         Air Force      Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Walter Kohler          West Bend        Army  Korea

Charles “Mike” McCormick    West Bend  Army  Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Walter Nowak        Slinger         Army  Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Tom Okruhlica        Jackson  Navy  Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Gordon Peszko       Hartford  Army     Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Gary Pichler           Colgate  Army           Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Arthur “Jim” Scherer  West Bend   Navy Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Mike Schreiber       West Bend        Navy Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Gerald Schwenke      Colgate          Army  Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Patrick Sharkey        Germantown Marines Vietnam/Vietnam Era

Lloyd Westerman    Kewaskum     Army  Korea

Chuck Woodhull   West Bend   Army     Vietnam/Vietnam Era


1547, 07 September 2020


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