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Lonnie Feuerhelm will be remembered for his jokes, love for his community

Lonnie Feuerhelm

Lonnie Feuerhelm was a big part of the Ellsworth community. He was a board member for the Pierce Pepin Cooperative, Hunger Prevention Council of Pierce County and the Ellsworth Community School Foundation. However, his many accomplishments weren't always on display.

"The more I find out about him, he did a lot of things in the community that probably went unnoticed to the public," Roger Wiff, one of Feuerhelm's fellow directors on the Pierce Pepin board, said. "He wasn't the kind of guy out blowing his own horn."

Wiff met Feuerhelm about five years ago when he joined as a board member, and became close to him through traveling together to legislative meetings in Madison and Washington D.C.

"If you met him, you never forgot him," Wiff said. "He had quite the sense of humor, and he would tell jokes forever ... he knew a million of them."

Members of the Pierce Pepin Board didn't hear about his death until the next morning, only minutes before an all-day board meeting.

"We heard he had a heart attack and that he passed away," Wiff said. "He was the secretary treasurer, so he would have been been there if he was alive; he will be missed."

Feuerhelm was very important to the board, using his 40-plus years of expertise in tax accounting and business advising to give a financial perspective to the board, according to Wiff.

"He's been a fixture in Ellsworth since the earth cooled; he knew everybody, and he really did care for the community," Wiff added. "He did a lot of things that supported Ellsworth."

Brent Langer of Feuerhelm Langer had known Lonnie since he interviewed him for a high school work project in 1981. Once Langer graduated from UW-River Falls, of which Feuerhelm is an alumnus, he went to work for him, and has been a business partner ever since.

"His family was number one to him and most important," Langer, who works in the company's Ellsworth office, said. "He loved serving others as a CPA, and he enjoyed various business ventures—and he has a lot of those."

Feuerhelm was described as a "huge family man" by Langer, who added that clients were seen on a personal level.

"Many of the clients he served were more than just business clients," Langer said. "They became close friends that he and (his wife) Peggy socialized with."

Matt Feuerhelm, one of Lonnie's sons that Roger Wiff said "he was always talking about," also said that his dad was involved with the Ellsworth Rod and Gun Club, Lions Club and the Masons.

"He was pretty deeply rooted in the community ... and he'd go out of his way to help people out," Matt said. "He was a very kind person, and he'd tell lots of jokes to people to make them laugh. He loved doing that."

Lonnie is survived by his wife, Peg (who is the Pierce County Clerk of Court); children, Matt (Kerry), Kit (Cindy), Shannon, Gabe (Katie), and Josh (Heidi); and grandchildren, Kody (Casey), Jonah, Natalie, Erica, Nora, Lucy, June, Ruby, and Fletcher, according to his obituary.

Lonnie's outgoing personality and many connections in the Ellsworth community were clear by the reception from community members at his funeral on July 16.

"Over 400 people were at the funeral, and we held a celebration of life for him at the Rod and Gun Club," Matt said. "It went from when the service was over (2 p.m.) until 10 p.m. at night. That said something."

Lonnie's passing will definitely leave a hole in the Ellsworth community, Matt said. However, his memory will live in through the numerous groups he's touched and entertained through his hard work and wide variety of jokes.

Zach Dwyer

Zach Dwyer is a senior journalism student at UW-River Falls. He is an intern reporter for RiverTown Multimedia during the summer of 2018 covering features and sports. He was previously a news intern in the summer of 2017 for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. 

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