WKEB Obituaries Blog

Eugene Wirz

 

Eugene Wirz, 94, of Medford, WI, peacefully passed to join his departed loved ones at 1:47AM on July 21, 2019, at Aspirus palliative care in Wausau WI.. Services will be held at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Medford on August 10, 2019 with visitation beginning at 9:00 AM and church service at 11:00 AM.

 

Gene was born on August 11, 1924 to Swiss immigrants Eugene and Lena (Kirchweier) Wirz in Darlington, Wisconsin. Being born into a family of cheese makers, Gene started life at a young age working at making cheese in his father's factory in Rice Lake, Wisconsin where he graduated with the class of 1943. He then attended UW-River Falls and graduated in 1947 with a degree in chemistry and math, and while there received 4 year varsity letters in football, and 2 year letters in basketball, baseball, and tennis. After graduating college he played semi-pro baseball for 5 years, and started his teaching/coaching career at Stanley High School in 1948 through 1950. His marriage to Irene Wilson took place on August 5, 1950, and from there he started a 36 year career of teaching, counseling and coaching at Medford Senior High School. While there he taught math for 10 years, chemistry for 16 years, and was named Chemistry Teacher Of The Year in 1974 and 1975 by the American Chemical Society. In 1968 he received a Masters Degree from UW-Stout in counseling and in 1976 moved solely into guidance counseling and serving as athletic director which he continued to do until his retirement in 1986.

 

Along with his passion for teaching, Gene's whole life was spent participating in and always tied to athletics. While at Medford his varsity coaching consisted of 10 years football, 1 year basketball, 5 years baseball, 5 years tennis, and 3 years volleyball. After coaching ended he was a WIAA and college official in football, basketball, baseball and track and always had a fond memory of getting a police escort out of Gilman after a hotly contested basketball game. Gene was also Lumberjack Conference commissioner for 25 years, and managed Tee-Hi golf course for 27 years where he was instrumental in developing a strong junior golf program - and always had the kindness, patience, and teaching ability that was needed for such a task. His only regret in his golfing career was that his wife got a hole-in-one and he never did - and one can only imagine the mileage she got out of that! In later years he was always an active spectator at Medford athletic events, and could be found with his good friend and former player Jim Zuleger in tow or just rolling up on his scooter to watch - he never lost his love for watching something that he held dear to him all his life. A plaque on the wall at the high school will attest to this as on January 27, 1996 he was a second round inductee into the Medford Athletic Hall Of Fame - a recognition well deserved.

 

Throughout his life Gene was never one to rest - although at times he could have used more than the 10 minute nap time Irene would usually allow him. He wore many hats in his 94 years - tugboat operator, pea cannery worker, horse trainer, Code 5 roadie, carpenter, Neuendorf Transportation truck driver, boy's camp counselor, diaper deliverer, Rec center owner, and turf company co-owner. After retiring he was on the Medford School Board for 18 years, Holy Rosary Education Committee for 3 years, Stepping Stones Board of Directors, and a volunteer for the Performing Arts Association and the Gentle Hearts Animal Shelter. Gene was also a charter member of the Taylor County AIDS Task Force and presented over 100 lectures on AIDS and AIDS prevention to schools, churches, hospitals and community gatherings. One of his proudest moments came in 2006 when the Medford Area Chamber of Commerce recognized and honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award - once again a recognition well deserved.

 

In addition to his parents, Gene was preceded in death by his brother Wally Wirz of Chippewa Falls WI; by his wife of 64 years Irene (Wilson) Wirz; by his son Jim "Phred" Wirz; and by his daughter Mary Ellen Wirz - and like her, by all the animals they both held so dearly in their lives.

 

Survivors include son Rich (Christie) Wirz of Medford; daughter Rita (Dave) Strebig of Wausau; granddaughters Tessa (Nick) Schoenfuss of Omaha NE; Kayla Wirz of Milwaukee WI; Brittany Strebig of Farmington CT; and Devan Strebig of Arlington VA; great- grandsons Colin Schoenfuss, TJ Klein; Ressick Klein; and numerous nieces, nephews, and all of the other friends and relatives who are now left without him in their lives. Gene's kind heart, willingness to help others, infectious grin and smile, and never ending wit and humor will truly be missed by all those who knew and loved him - and especially by his family who held him so dear to our hearts.

 

In lieu of flowers, any and all memorial donations will be given in his name to Rawhide Boys Ranch and for a one time scholarship to a Class of 2020 graduating senior scholar/athlete.

Hemer Funeral Service of Medford and Rib Lake has been entrusted with arrangements. Online condolences can be left at www.hemerfuneralservice.com. 

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