ELK MOUND — John Gerrish, 75, of rural Elk Mound died Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019, at Sacred Heart Hospital after a long, courageous battle with kidney failure and other health issues.
John was born Nov. 2, 1943, to Hartzell and Ethel (Ginsbach) Gerrish, at home in the town of Union. In the spring of 1950, tragedy struck John and his family when he was diagnosed with polio. He became paralyzed from his neck on down and was in St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minn., for several months. He was spared from death at that time, but needed to regain the use of his arms and legs. When he was able to go home, his parents worked diligently with him and in the fall he was able to start first grade in Plum City.
In grade school and high school John was active in 4-H activities and from a young age he loved to tear machines and other things apart to see how they worked. This skill and knowledge became very useful as he worked in the printing business and farmed as well. John graduated from Plum City High School in 1962, where his aptitude test revealed he should go into the trade of printing. He attended Stout State College in Menomonie, for one year. He then transferred to Coleman Technical College in La Crosse, where he graduated with a degree in technical printing. He worked for Inland Printing in La Crosse, then moved to Chippewa Falls, where he worked for Ashbaugh Printing for more than 25 years as a pressman.
John’s dream was to create his own company someday. In 1993, along with his son, Steven, they started Badgerland Printing. His daughter, Danyel joined the company in 1997. John made friends with his employees and valued them as family. The printing company has flourished and today is one of the most successful and modernly equipped printing companies in the Chippewa Valley. John loved new equipment and all the efficiencies and capabilities it added. The growth of the company was more than he ever imagined. In 2016, John sold his interests of the company to Steven. In 2017, he sold his other business—Wheaton Self Storage.
John married Louise Mislivecek in 1966. Over the years they were blessed with four children, Brenda, Steven, Danyel and Linda. They divorced in 1999. Later, John met and married Juliet Steenson in 2004. John’s work was very important to him, but he truly enjoyed time with his family, whether it was at the printing shop, at family gatherings or the annual trips to Wisconsin Dells, with the children and especially the grandchildren.
John was preceded in death by his parents; and his brother, Samuel Gerrish. John is survived by his wife, Julie; and his children, Brenda (Paul) Wolf, Steven (Paula) Gerrish, Danyel (Lloyd) Bowe and Linda (Matt) Lyman; 11 grandchildren, Alicia, Calvin, Craig, Brett, Keith, Katelynn, Brooke, Joey, Alaina, Delila and Kierra; two great-grandchildren, Opal and Alexander. He is also survived by three stepchildren, Jodi (Dan) Slaby, Beth (David) Evans, Jillian (Paul) Richie; 10 stepgrandchildren; and eight stepgreat-grandchildren; and sister-in-law, Judith Gerrish.
All memorial donations received will be donated to Irvine Park, Chippewa Falls and Big Elk Creek Lutheran Church in John’s memory. The family would like to thank all of the staff at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital and especially the dialysis staff for the care and comfort given to John.
Memorial visitation will take place from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Hulke Family Funeral Home, followed by a celebration of life service at 1 p.m. with a luncheon to follow the service.
Friends and family may offer condolences online at www.hulkefamilyfh.com. Hulke Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 3209 Rudolph Road, Eau Claire, WI 54701,, is assisting the family with the arrangements.