CASSVILLE-Christopher J. Esser, Jr., age 81, died peacefully surrounded by family at Grant Regional Health Center in Lancaster, WI on November 9, 2022. He was born March 23, 1941, at home in Cassville Township, the son of Christopher H. Esser, Sr. and Frances ‘Fannie’ M. Wiest. Chris graduated from Cassville High School, Class of 1959. He married Mary Ila Bernhardt on October 28, 1967, and they had four daughters. They celebrated 55 years of marriage in October.
Chris enjoyed farming on the family farm for many years. Chris also was employed at Grant County Farm Co. Feed Mill for eight years. He then began a twenty-seven-year career at Wisconsin Power & Light, working primarily as an Auxiliary Equipment and Turbine Operator, retiring on February 1, 1998. Chris and Mary Ila owned and operated Three Ridges Golf Driving Range. Following retirement, Chris held various jobs including a courier driver for Dean Clinics, a night watchman for a seed company, and his volunteer job of lawn mowing at Stonefield Village. He loved his hometown of Cassville, WI and was very involved with many community activities and organizations. This involvement and volunteer work led to his wife nominating and Chris receiving the ‘Charlie Award’, from IBEW 965. Chris was a member of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church; Third degree member of the Knights of Columbus Council No. 4416 (Bloomington, Glen Haven, and Cassville); and Holy Name Society at St. Charles. Family genealogy and local history were a passion for Chris. He was a member of Wisconsin State Historical Society, Grant County Historical Society, Grant County Genealogical Society, Cassville Historical Society (served as Vice-President), Friends of Stonefield and was appointed the head of The History Club at Orchard Manor. Chris also enjoyed becoming an Honorary Member of the Hobo Association with Stonefield, where he was given the name of “Blade” in an official ceremony.
Chris loved sports with his favorite teams being the Cassville Comets, Milwaukee Brewers, Wisconsin Badgers, and Green Bay Packers. Chris was a lifelong outdoorsman, especially enjoying fishing, ice fishing, and deer and coon hunting. Chris worked hard and played hard, enjoying softball, bowling, playing cards and games, putting together puzzles, and traveling. He particularly enjoyed hunting trips out west, fishing trips up north, and many other memorable vacations with his wife, family, and friends. Chris was very social. Coffee with friends at The Crossing and later BP in Cassville were part of his daily retirement routine for many years. Chris never wanted to miss an opportunity to visit with friends and family, sharing countless stories, enjoying cousin lunches, class reunions, and all of the other informal gatherings over his life. He was proud to be a cancer survivor after finishing radiation treatment in 2019. Chris was a true family man and loved family get-togethers with his wife, daughters, sons-in-law, grandkids and other honorary family members.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Ila. Also surviving are his daughters and sons-in-law, Ann (Harvey) Morley, Cuba City, WI; Patti (Mark) Wood-Johll, Cassville, WI; Lisa (Jeff) Somerville, Hudson, WI and Beth Esser (Derek Peterson), Monona, WI; 7 grandchildren and 2 step grandchildren, Joshua Wood, Jacob Wood, Weston Morley, Brandon Morley, Jorah Somerville, Miles Peterson, Ila Esser, Shelby Johll, & Lindsay Johll.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister and brother-in-law, Patricia and George Garrot; father and mother-in-law, John and Phyllis Bernhardt, and son-in-law, Dave Wood.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, November 18, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Cassville with Father Gregory Ihm officiating. Burial will be in St. Charles Cemetery, Cassville. Visitation will be held on Thursday, November 17, 2022, from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church where a 3:45 p.m. Knights of Columbus rosary will be prayed. Friends may also call on Friday from 10:00 a.m. until time of services at the church. In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made in his memory to St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, PO Box 166 Cassville WI 53806 or The Friends of Stonefield State Historical Site and Nelson Dewey State Park, P.O. Box 213, Attn. Joy Blum, Cassville, WI 53806.
Martin Schwartz Funeral Home & Crematory in Cassville is entrusted with his care.
Chris and his family give special thanks for visits from Marcia Hampton, family, friends, and neighbors; and the care received by staff at Orchard Manor and Grant Regional Health Center. Cards can be brought to the service or sent to Ann Morley, 219 N. Randolph St., Cuba City, WI 53807.