George R. Casper
Casper, 103, of Fond du Lac, passed away peacefully with his daughters by his
side on December 28, 2018 at Harbor Haven Health and Rehabilitation. He was
born on February 22, 1915 in New Holstein, the second son of Paul and Anne
(Brandt) Casper. His mother died when he was two and Paul remarried five years
later and moved his family to Fond du Lac.
As a boy,
George enjoyed spending time with his friends at Taylor Park and fishing in the
river behind their house on Western Avenue. He graduated from Goodrich High
School in 1932 and was the last surviving class member.
As a young
boy, George worked many odd jobs to help out at home and in his late twenties
worked a short time for the storm repair section of Western Union, where he
repaired downed lines and learned to use dynamite. He said it was the most fun
he ever had working and when he quit, he still had all ten fingers. His next
job was a lineman for the C&NW Railroad. In 1940, he married Ada Erdman of
North Fond du Lac and they spent many years moving around Wisconsin following
his job assignments. In 1946, he decided it was time to settle his family in
one place and joined the Fond du Lac Fire Department where he had a long and
fulfilling 34-year career, retiring as Captain of Fire Station Number 2. Early
in his career, George worked to establish the union in the department and to
standardize safety measures. He fought with various mayors for many changes to
improve the department. Mayor Weis said that he saw George more than he saw his
own grandchildren. George became quite a legend though he was not one to look
for personal recognition but rather focused on gaining benefits for his
co-workers. He also believed strongly in the credit union and was instrumental
in the growth of the Fond du Lac Credit Union. In the late 1940’s Mayor Weis
asked George if he would build some houses for the city. For several years, he
and his friend “Dot” Kubelt spent their off days building homes for returning
veterans. In 2014, George and Dot received a Proclamation from the City
recognizing the exemplary service of their two oldest living firefighters.
George made many life-long friends in the department and through his retirement
and to his last day, he enjoyed their companionship.
years as a firefighter, George also built four homes for this family in Fond du
Lac. After living in the first house for a few years, he became restless and
would start the next house, using the proceeds of each house to finance the
next until he finally found the perfect location to build his last house, where
he lived until his death. After losing his son, Fred, in Vietnam, George needed
a project so he bought property along the Copper River in Marathon County.
Fellow firemen purchased adjoining property and they created a small community.
George’s cabin became the gathering place for Ada’s Northern Wisconsin
relatives and many family celebrations were held there.
retirement, Ada and George became Master Gardeners. George bought surplus wood
from the Fond du Lac Lumber Company to build birdhouses to fund the Master
Gardeners community projects. After the owner of the Lumber Company found out
what George did with the wood, he gave George all the wood he needed for free.
George also built a raised garden for a wheelchair bound gardener. George
continued to serve their community by working with Ada at the Galloway Village
and the Historical Society. His friend at the Visitor’s Center knew of his
woodworking skills and asked him to create a wooden relief of the Galloway
Village, which hung at their location on Pioneer Road. After the Visitor’s
Center moved downtown, the Galloway Village relief found a new home at
Schreiner’s Restaurant, where George and family frequently ate. George also
joined the Noon Optimists and found a new outlet for his restless energy. Along
with their work for the young people of Fond du Lac, this gregarious group of
men raised money for their projects selling beer and brats at the County Fair
and the Sturgeon Spearing Contest. George had many great memories of his time
with the club. After Ada died, George joined the Senior Center and became a
member of the German Club. Having spoken German as a child, he fit comfortably
into this group and again made new friends and was especially close with his
potato pancake-loving friend, Franz. After sitting in the pool room watching
the pool league for a few days, they encouraged him to join and he discovered
he had a skill for knocking the ball around. He retired from the league this
past fall. George joined the Eagle’s Club and he and his friend, Sam, played in
the cribbage league for many years playing up until this past year.
survived by his two daughters Marianne Breitzka (Michael) of Beaver Dam and
Jane Casper (partner Scott Armstrong) of Fond du Lac. George was Opa to
granddaughter Barbra (fiancé Jeff) of Waupun and grandson Steven (Sarah) of
Tully, NY. He was Great Opa to great grandsons Michael of Waupun and Oscar and
Jack of Tully, NY, and Uncle to nieces Lisa and Donna of Denver, CO. George is
further survived by other nieces and many friends.
preceded in death by his wife, Ada; son, First Lt. Frederick R. Casper;
granddaughter Cheryl Breitzka; and brother and his wife, Arno and Marguerite
Casper of Denver, CO.
would like to thank all of dad’s wonderful friends for respecting his privacy
during his last days. He preferred that you remember him as the independent and
strong person that all of you knew so well. A special thank you to the staff at
Harbor Haven for their excellent care of our Dad.
It was dad’s
wish that he leave this world in the same quiet manner in which he lived and
the family is honoring his request that there be no funeral or formal viewing.
His body has been cremated.
is planning on hosting a Life Celebration for George sometime in the near
future so that we may all gather to share memories and stories of his life in a
In lieu of
flowers or memorials, it was George’s wish that you pass on his passion for
making your community a better place by helping someone in need or contributing
to a charity of your choice.
condolences can be shared at www.zacherlfuneralhome.com.