NEW AUBURN — Norman “Norm” E. Gutsch, 85, of New Auburn passed away Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, at Mayo Clinic Health System, Bloomer.
Norm was born July 9, 1932, in Eau Claire, to the late Howard and Bernice (Brazeau) Gutsch. He graduated from Eau Claire High School with the Class of 1950. He signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox in 1950, and played with the team in 1951. Norm joined the Navy in 1952, traveling around the world playing baseball with the USS Wisconsin team for four years. He was a member of the USS Wisconsin R Division and was a sheet metal mechanic and damage control fireman. In 2015, he made a return trip to Norfolk to tour the USS Wisconsin, and was able to locate his old bunk and the sheet metal shop that he worked in.
When he returned to Eau Claire from the Navy, Norm played fast pitch softball for Leif’s Conoco and Chippewa Valley Sporting Goods. He also played for Peters Meats, Halbeck and Associates and Galloway Tap. In addition to playing fast pitch, Norm also umpired both men’s and women’s fast pitch games, including the National Women’s Fast Pitch tournament in Petoskey, Mich. He was also the Deputy Umpire-In-Chief for the state of Wisconsin section of the U.S. Amateur Softball Association. Norm was always involved in youth activities such as building the original youth baseball fields in Altoona, leading Boy Scout events, coaching boys basketball at St. Mary’s, girls basketball at St. Pat’s and women’s softball in Altoona, Wis., sponsoring the Eau Claire Flames girls soccer teams, and supporting Regis Catholic Schools. He was his grandchildren’s greatest cheerleader, attending all of their sporting events. Norm was active as a board member with Ducks Unlimited, White Tails Unlimited and the Wild Turkey Federation. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, making annual trips to Canada and out West with his family. Norm’s greatest joy was teaching his grandchildren how to fish. Norm owned and operated several businesses through the years including Eau Claire Sheet Metal, Metal Fab of Eau Claire and currently Par-Loc Inc. He was a supervisor on the town of Sampson board, and was on the Northwest Regional Builders Exchange Board of Directors.
Norm is survived by his wife, Jill (Violante) Gutsch; as well as his children, Tim (Theresa) Gutsch, Cathy (Mark) Beckfield, Gene (Shirley) Gutsch, Jack (Cara) Gutsch, Barb (Nyla) Gutsch, Steve (Criss) Gutsch, Anne (Billy) Cooley, Jim Gutsch, Drew (Kristina) Crocker, Bryan (Kristen) Crocker and Kristyn (Kevin) Schouweiler. He is also survived by his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, Ben (Megan) Gutsch (Nat and Claire), Bethany and Jeremy Hoffmann (Graham and Oliver (OT)), Chris and Kelsie Beckfield (Ellie and Lydia), Will and Maddy Beckfield, Alex Beckfield (Alex Laffey), Michael Beckfield, Amanda and Mike Peters, Matt and Lindsey Gutsch, John Gutsch, Carolyn Gutsch, Nelson Gutsch, Elayna Gutsch, Dayton Gutsch, Elise Cooley, Makenna Cooley, Jason Gutsch, Kyle Gutsch, Genevieve Crocker, Koty Schoenberg and Kiyara Schouweiler. He is further survived by his brothers, Donny (Jo) Gutsch and Fritz (Mary Lou) Gutsch; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 322 Fulton St., Eau Claire, with Father George Thayilkuzhithottu officiating. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, at the West Chapel location of Lenmark-Gomsrud-Linn Funeral Home, 1405 N. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire, and again one hour prior to the service at the church. Military honors will be conducted by VFW Post 10405. Interment will take place in Lakeview Cemetery, Eau Claire.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Eau Claire Veterans Tribute project (www.ecveteransfoundation.com).