Peggy A. Lautenschlager
Peggy Ann (“Peg”) Lautenschlager, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin,
died on March 31, 2018, after a battle with cancer that began almost 14 years
earlier. The daughter of Fond du Lac public school teachers, Peg served as a
district attorney, a state legislator, a United States Attorney, Wisconsin
Attorney General, and the first Chair of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. She
had an impact on countless people, and it meant the world to her.
Peg was born on November 22, 1955, in Fond du Lac. She was the
valedictorian of her class at Goodrich High School; a Phi Beta Kappa and summa
cum laude graduate of Lake Forest College, where she majored in
history and mathematics; and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law
Peg was appointed District Attorney of Winnebago County in 1985
and was elected to that position the following year. In 1988, she was elected
to the Wisconsin State Assembly, defeating a 32-year incumbent. Peg is the only
Democrat to have been elected to represent the Fond du Lac area in the State
Assembly in the last 75 years. She was re-elected in 1990.
In 1993, Peg was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. During her tenure, she
served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee under U.S. Attorney General
Janet Reno. Peg was the first Wisconsinite ever to serve on the committee.
In 2002, Peg was elected to serve as Wisconsin’s 42nd Attorney
General—the first woman elected to that position. As AG, Peg created a Public
Integrity Unit, was a leader on environmental issues, and sued 36
pharmaceutical companies for reporting inflated drug prices. She prosecuted a
man who was convicted of murdering six hunters and attempting to murder two
others in northwest Wisconsin. She also issued an opinion concluding that
Wisconsin law prohibits the exclusion of prescription contraceptives from
benefit plans that provide prescription drug coverage.
After serving as Attorney General, Peg continued to advocate for
causes that were important to her. She worked with the Service Employees
International Union, fought for public access to the Wisconsin State Capitol
during the protests of Act 10, and did pro bono legal work for young people in
Fond du Lac. She also volunteered at Blandine House, a substance-abuse treatment
center, where she was known for her home-cooked meals.
Peg is survived by her mother, Pat Lautenschlager; her husband,
Bill Rippl; her five children and step-children, Jason Rippl (Marnie
Spielbauer), Josh Kaul (Lindsey Powell), Justin Rippl (Alicia), Ryan Kaul
(Kelly Bridgeman), and Rebecca Johnson (Brandon); and five grandchildren and
step-grandchildren, Elias Johnson, Simon Kaul, Emma Johnson, Henry Kaul, and
Will Rippl. She was deeply proud of her children and step-children, and she
delighted in playing an active role in her grandchildren’s lives.
Peg was fiercely independent, a gifted orator, funny, and
down-to-earth. She was a mentor and friend to numerous people who wanted to
serve their communities.
In 2006, the Fond du Lac Reporter wrote that a
“woman with the kind of tenacity and courage Peg Lautenschlager has shown in
her fight with breast cancer, a woman who picks up the pieces and battles on,
doesn’t walk away.” She never did.
A memorial service for Peg will be held on Sunday, April 15th
from 1-4:00 PM at Whispering Springs Golf Course. In lieu of flowers, donations
may be made to Blandine House, Inc., the ARC of Fond du Lac, Inc., or United
Kurki-Mach Funeral Chapel
& Crematory is serving the family, www.kurkimachfuneralchapel.com. 920-921-4420