Virgil H. “Butch” Steinhorst, 81, passed away peacefully on Friday, December 14, 2012 at the Reedsburg Area Medical Center.
He was born on December 8, 1931, in the Town of Excelsior to Pearl H. (Bittrick) and Herbert L. Steinhorst. He resided with his parents on the family farm and worked at the Warren Hotel in downtown Baraboo as a busboy before and after school. He enjoyed meeting the many famous people to have stayed at the hotel. He graduated from Baraboo Senior High School in 1949.
After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army First Calvary Division. He served in the Korean Conflict from 1950 – 1953, and while there, taught cross country skiing and snow shoeing. He was honorably discharged attaining the rank of Master Sergeant.
On May 15, 1954, he married the love of his life, Mary Ellen Hayes, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Baraboo. In 2010, they celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary. To this union, three children were born: William Scott Steinhorst, Laurie Ann Steinhorst Grill and Juliann Marie Steinhorst, all of Baraboo.
Upon the encouragement of his father-in-law, James Hayes, Sr., a retired Sauk County Sheriff, he applied to the Sauk County Traffic Patrol Department and on December 1, 1955, was hired as a traffic patrolman. He served three years as a patrolman, and five years as a sergeant with the Sauk County Traffic Department. During his tenure with the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department, he served five years as a lieutenant, and 21 years as chief deputy.
Duties within the Sheriff’s Department included: Deputy Director, Sauk County Emergency Government, organization and supervision of the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department Boat Patrol, Dive and Rescue Team, Snowmobile Patrol, and was instrumental in starting the Sauk County Firearms Training program.
He was elected Sauk County Sheriff in 1988 and was elected to that position five times, retiring in 1998. While in office, he was instrumental in the planning and building of the original Sauk County Huber Center. He was involved with the Sauk County Kops for Kids Christmas program, and the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association. He also served as president of the Sauk County Law Enforcement Officers Association.
He was an avid hunter and fisherman. He enjoyed his many fishing trips to Canada, starting first with his father, Herb, and fishing off Garrison’s Pier at Devil’s Lake with his friends, Walt Nelson and Al Clary. He also enjoyed his fall fishing excursions to Little St. Germain with Phil Pointon and his sons.
He was a member of Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Whitetails Unlimited and the North American Fishing Club. He was a proud member of the American Legion Post 987, a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a life member of the North Freedom American Legion, Post 172. He was also a member of Koshwaga.
He drove school bus for Fullmer Transfer in his spare time. This included driving the Baraboo Thunderbird Football and Track teams from 1969-1973. He was an honorary member of the football coaching staff and proudly wore his “coach’s tie” each football Friday night.
Butch enjoyed watching the Packers, Badgers, and Brewers, playing cards, especially euchre, with family and friends, solving the world’s problems with Bill Wiese and friends at Table 24, Ho-Chunk visits with his wife, Mary, fishing on Lake Redstone with his good friend, Jerry Soenksen, and loved helping and giving advice to his neighbor of 30+ years, Jim Bohl. He enjoyed playing slow pitch softball, first at Broadway field and then at Pierce Park, on a team sponsored by Glacier Valley Ford. He especially was fond of the after game stops at the Eagles Club.
His first born grandson, Scott William Steinhorst, with great respect for law enforcement seen through the eyes of his grandfather and father, has continued the law enforcement legacy by becoming an officer himself. Grandpa was never more proud of Scott then on the day of his graduation from the Police Academy in 2007.
His second and third born grandsons, Matthew James Herbert Grill and Nathaniel Christopher Fitzgerald Grill, brought enjoyment to their Grandpa through their sporting events and music concerts. Grandpa always took credit for their various talents. He was also proud to be a University of Wisconsin-Madison grandparent as Matthew graduated from the UW in May of 2012 with degrees in History and Political Science and Nathaniel is currently a sophomore studying Mathematics. He was so very proud of the young men they are today. His great-grandaughter, Madeline, brought a sparkle to his eyes and his grand dog, Cooper, was forever his best friend.
Survivors include his three children: Bill (Carole) Laurie (Leo) and Julie (Cooper), and three grandsons, Scott (Kayla) Steinhorst, Matthew and Nathaniel Grill. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Dorothy Steinhorst Brahmstead; many nieces; nephews; extended family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ellen, on March 27, 2011; his parents, Herbert and Pearl Steinhorst; his brother, Lester Steinhorst, Sr., and his niece, Sherri Steinhorst Ziemke.
A Prayer Service will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 22, 2012 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Baraboo with Father Timothy Renz officiating. Visitation will be on Friday, December 21, 2012 at the Redlin Funeral Home, 401 Madison Ave. in Baraboo from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.. There is also visitation for an hour prior to the service on Saturday, at the church. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Reedsburg Area Medical Center, Pheasants Forever, or to the family to establish a scholarship in his name.
Adequate words cannot be found to express our sincerest thank you to Dr. Karl Hoffman, the staff and nurses of Reedsburg Area Medical Center, who are now and will forever be extended family members, for “going beyond the expected in healthcare” and to Home Health United Hospice for guiding us on Dad’s journey home. Your kindness, compassion and love will never be forgotten.
The Little Ship
I stood watching as the little ship sailed out to sea. The setting sun tinted his white sails with a golden light, and as he disappeared from sight a voice at my side whispered, “He is gone.”
But the sea was a narrow one. On the farther shore a little band of friends had gathered to watch and wait in happy expectation. Suddenly, they caught sight of the tiny sail and, at the very moment when my companion had whispered, “He is gone, a glad shout went up in joyous welcome, “Here he comes!” – D. H. Lawrence