Bernard R. Buchner | Obituary

Bernard R. “Ben” Buchner, 88, died on December 22, 2021. He was born on April 18, 1933, at the home of La Crosse, WI, to Bernard J. “Bernie” Buchner and Elizabeth “Liz” (Schmidt ) Buchner. He attended Holy Trinity Elementary School and graduated from Aquinas High School in 1951.

His father bought Midway Bar, now Sloopy’s, from his siblings in 1946. The family moved to the south side above Midway Bar. Ben spent many hours as a bartender during his high school years. After high school he went to work as an apprentice plumber for the George J. McKoskey Plumbing and Heating Company, working on the Holy Cross Seminary project.

His apprenticeship was interrupted when he enlisted in the US Army during the Korean War in 1953. He served in France with the 97th Engineer Battalion. While in the service, his father founded the Bernie J. Buchner Plumbing and Heating Company. When Ben returned from the military, he went to work for his father as an apprentice plumber. They have worked on many projects in the area such as the plumbing at Marion Hall and the HVAC at St. Joseph the Workman’s Cathedral.

Eventually, Ben’s five younger brothers joined the business. The six sons later bought the business from their father and formed Bernie J. Buchner Mechanical Contractors Incorporated. Ben, who held a master plumber’s license in Wisconsin and Minnesota, was president of the company until his retirement on January 1, 1999. He took great joy in being able to work on all plumbing and HVAC at Aquinas High. School (his alma mater and the alma mater of all his children) including the new college and gymnasium as well as the Villa Saint-Joseph. Some of the nuns who taught him or his children lived there and he liked to have lunch with them every now and then and tell them about the good old days.

On June 22, 1957, he married Lois Herman of Bangor, WI, in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. They were married for 64 years and had seven children.

Ben and Lois bought a few acres of land near Galesville. It was the perfect location for family reunions. It also served as a large deer hunting hut. Many good times and beautiful memories were experienced in this picturesque place.

He was a member of St. James the Less Catholic Church and had served on the Parish Council and Building and Grounds Committee and had been Eucharistic Minister and Reader for 35 years. Ben was also a member of the Roy L. Vingers American Legion Post 52.

Ben was very proud to be able to donate his work and talent to parents, friends and organizations like St. John’s, St. James, the Boys and Girls Club, the Villa and Aquinas.

Ben is survived by his loving wife, Lois; and her children: Gerianne Wettstein, Sandra (Alan) Alden, Thomas (fiancee Kathryn Wisco), Angela Young, Michele (Joel) Eby, Joseph (Meg) and Dana (Greg) Hinn; his grandchildren: Jaime (Michael) Erickson, Jordana (Adam) Stark and Jarrod Wettstein, Hillary Williams and Benjamin (Jenna) Alden, Tommy (Casey) Buchner and Megan (Brandon) McHugh, Kendal (Miranda) and Cameron Young, Erika (Randy Meister) and Nathan Eby, Lane, Vincent and Silas Buchner, and Madelyn and Annalize Davies; her great-grandchildren: Emma Wittenberg-Buchner and Haylie Buchner, Addison and Cooper Stark, Devyn and Ethan Williams, Henry, Elise and Cecelia Alden, London Young and Jameson McHugh. He is also survived by his brothers: Orville, Marlin (Elaine) and Gary, and his only sister, Elaine (Pat) Doyle, his sisters-in-law: Phyllis Buchner, Marietta Seaquist, Diana Buchner, Delores Coburn, Carol (Carol) Liefke, Eileen Herman and several nieces and nephews.

His parents died before him; his brothers: Lloyd and baby Grosbach, Virgil and Gordon Buchner; brothers-in-law: Gofland Miller, Frank Coburn, Merlin Adams, Virgil Bohl and Everett Herman; sisters-in-law: Hazel Miller, Joyce Adams and Harriet Bohl; nephews: John Buchner, Tim Doyle and Wayne Bohl; nieces: Barbara Adams Kendhammer and Dee Ann Buchner Gray.

Ben would like to thank the staff at Bethany St. Joseph’s for their loving care as well as the medical staff at St. Mary’s and Franciscan Skemp, especially the doctors and therapists at Cardiac Care.

A funeral mass will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday January 5, 2022, at St. James the Less Catholic Church, 1032 Caledonia Street, La Crosse. Reverend Woody Pace will officiate with the interment to be held at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, with military honors rendered by Roy L. Vingers American Legion Post No. 52. Family and friends can visit from 9:30 am to 10:30 am at Church on Wednesday. There will be a rosary at 10:30 am at the church before the start of mass. MASKS ARE MANDATORY and social distancing is strongly encouraged.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be donated to the Boys and Girls Club or the Aquinas Foundation.

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