WELLMAN, Gene Ronald 1940-2020
WELLMAN, UDELHOFEN, CALDWELL, HALL, FRITZ, JOHNSON, VINSON, AUDETAT
Posted By: Cindy Maust Smith (email)
Date: 4/19/2021 at 17:01:05
LaCrosse Tribune, Sunday, June 7, 2020, LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Gene Ronald Wellmam ,80, of Stoddard, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully at Rochester Mayo St. Mary's Hospital on June 3, 2020.
Born June 1, 1940 to Guy and Florence (Udelhofen) Wellman in Dubuque, Iowa he grew up a small-town boy in Earville, Iowa where he helped with the family's business, Wellman Produce.
He graduated high school in 1958 as his high school class president and organized his class reunion every five years for sixty years, something he always looked forward to as they were a close-knit class.
Gene met his sweetheart Sandee on an Iowa country road when she was riding her horse and he was cruising in his Chevy convertible. He stopped her to tell her that the taillight on her horse was out. As a result of that meeting, he married Sandra Caldwell on November 11, 1961 in Winthrop, Iowa and they celebrated their 58th anniversary last year.
He earned his BA, MA and EDS degrees on K-12 Education and was passionate about the education of youth and adults, as throughout his career.
He started teaching English, Speech and Drama at West Delaware High School in Manchester, Iowa. While there, his student's team held the State Speech Record Win for eight straight years. He left Delaware to become High School Principal at Eastern Allamakee High School in Lansing, Iowa, where he stayed for five years.
While in Lansing, he also became a charter member of the Lansing Lions Club and was one of the original seven EMTS to organize Lansing's volunteer ambulance service.
Upon leaving Lansing, Gene and his family moved to the other side of the Mississippi River to Genoa, Wisconsin. Gene became the elementary school principal at St. James School in LaCrosse for five years, then moved to become a school superintendent for fifteen years first at Bangor Area Schools, then at the Cochrane-Fountain City School District.
He finished out his educational career by holding the position of Clinical Field Experiences at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse for nine years.
Because he was in education, summers were spent on the river or camping. As a result, he instilled in his children and grandchildren a great appreciation for nature and made river rats out of all of them to one degree or another. Gene built a camper out of a retired school bus back in the 1960's (way before schoolies and glamping became popular) as did many of his relatives and friends, and family summers were spent in the Northwoods or in campgrounds across the Midwest with these other buses enjoying many times of fun and camaraderie.
Gene also had a great passion for fishing and would get his flat bottom boat (aptly named the "Board of Education") out on the river, lakes or a special northern flowage that he loved as often as possible. The highlight of his later years was his annual fishing trips "up north." Gene liked a rousing poker game with his brothers and in later years with his fishing buddies.
Gene's mother saw that he had piano lessons in his youth and he could play wonderful instrumental piano and was often requested to sit down and play at parties or in bars, especially the tune "Alley Cat." This was probably not what his mother envisioned when she encouraged his piano lessons, but it sure did bring a lot of smiles to a lot of people.
There wasn't anything Gene couldn't fix - he could do carpentry, he could weld, he was a great mechanic, although his family would tell you this is probably because he was brought up in a family whose attitude was why pay someone else to do it when you can do it yourself?
He built his own house on Gales Avenue in Manchester, Iowa and in that house accidentally walled up his favorite beer bottle opener. Thinking it would be more bother to take the wall down to get it out, he left it and the opener is still there.
In Gene's own words: "I am the husband to the love of my life, Sandee. I am the proud parent of three great kids," Christine Wellman Hall (Chloris Lowe Jr.) of Kendall, Wisconsin and Craig (Susan) Wellman of DeSoto, and Cherie (Chris) Fritz of Red Wing, I am the proud grandpa of ten grandchildren: Tyler (Amanda) Hall of New York, Ryan (Pa Chia Xiong) Hall of La Crosse, Colton Hall of La Forge, Cherie (Ben) Johnson of Winona, Minnesota, Jordan Vinson of LaCrosse, Zach Wellman of De Soto, Rachel Wellman of LaCrosse, Brittany Fritz of Melbourne, Australia, Erin Fritz of Red Wing, Minnesota and Morgan Fritz of Red Wing, Minnesota and one great-grandchild, Julian Audetat of Winona, Minnesota.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents, Guy and Florence Wellman, and his brothers William, Lloyd and Orville Wellman.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in Gene's name to the Upper Iowa University Alumni Foundation.
A huge hole has been left in our family by losing the rock of our family. We take comfort in knowing he is with his God, the family that went before him and he is surely sitting at the best fishing spot in the heavens.
A private service is being held for the family this week. A Celebration of Life for friends and other family will be held at a later date.
Allamakee Obituaries maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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