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Walter Wiebelhaus, age 92 of Crofton, Nebraska died on Monday, January 23, 2017 at Majestic Bluffs Care Center in Yankton, SD.
Mass of Christian Burial will be on Friday, January 27, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Crofton with the Rev. Timothy Podraza officiating. Burial will be at the St. Rose cemetery with military rites by the Crofton American Legion Post #128. Visitation will be on Thursday, at church, from 4-7:00 p.m. with a Vigil at 7:00 p.m. Visitation will continue on Friday at church one hour prior to services. Arrangements are under the direction of the Wintz Funeral Home in Crofton.
Pallbearers are his grandchildren, Richard Genovese, Brian Genovese, Jason Genovese, Tom Wiebelhaus, Jenny Coates, Kelli Gilsdorf, Joe Wiebelhaus, Scott Wiebelhaus, Rob Wiebelhaus, Jill McCoy, Luke Merkel and Dana List. Honorary Pallbearers are Stacy Genovese, Jill Genovese, Taryn Genovese, Tracie Wiebelhaus, Adam Coates, Jeff Gilsdorf, Kelly Wiebelhaus, Brittney Wiebelhaus, Chance McCoy, Ashley Merkel and Ben List.
Walt was born December 7, 1924 at Olpe Westphalia, Germany to Dr. Joseph and Maria (Hengstebeck) Wiebelhaus. Walt came to America when he was 5 years old. His parents settled in the Bow Valley area for three years then moved to Crofton. Walt attended St. Rose of Lima and Crofton High School. In June of 1943 he entered the Army and served three years during World War II. For 10 months, he was stationed in the Pacific Theater in New Guinea. He supervised 15 men in combat conditions, drove light trucks and was involved in loading and unloading ships.
After Walt's honorable discharge from the Army, his Dad encouraged and helped him purchase what is now Wiebelhaus Recreation from Frank Potter in May of 1946. Frank operated the business for 25 years and candidly warned Walt that he did not think any young fellow could survive in such a demanding business as long as he was in the business.
Walter married Eva Jackson on October 21, 1946 at Crofton. Walt and Eva were the proprietors of Wiebelhaus Recreation for 43 years and on December 1, 1989, sold the business to their son Brian and his wife Debbie. This business is very demanding and because of a commitment to the community and their families, Walt and Brian have held a liquor license in the State of Nebraska longer than any other proprietor.
From the very beginning, a commitment was made to the community. Wiebelhaus Recreation was established and dedicated to the youth, the mothers and daughters of Crofton. A promise was made to keep it respectable so that husbands could bring their wives, their sons, daughters and sweethearts without fear of embarrassment. A long-time tradition has been Tom & Jerry's on Christmas Eve. This is not just a tradition for the community but also a tradition that involves the entire family. The youngest are always involved and are an important part of making sure the drinks are ready for the customers.
In addition to the Tom & Jerry's, Walt was also known as "The Tootsie Roll Man". The candy jar was always filled with Tootsie Rolls and kids from near and far knew when they walked through the doors of Wiebelhaus Recreation and saw Walt, they were going to get a handful of Tootsie Rolls. The kids love the treats but Walt loved it even more than the kids. In recent years, he always had a basket of Tootsie Rolls in his room at The Majestic Bluffs Care Center. Walt handed out Tootsie Rolls to staff members on a daily basis - it was his way of saying, "thank you for all you do to care for me!"
Walter was a member of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, American Legion and was an avid Cornhusker fan. In 2008 Walt and Eva were inducted into the Nebraska State Bowlers Association Hall of Fame. Walt treasured his time with children and grandchildren and frequently took them on "tour" looking for pheasants, squirrels or whatever was in season.
Walter is survived by his 5 children: Sandra (Richard) Genovese, Fairview, TX; Gordon (Suzanne) Wiebelhaus, Crofton; Gary (Gale) Wiebelhaus, Omaha; Brian (Debbie) Wiebelhaus, Crofton; Marianne (Dale) Merkel, Crofton; 12 grandchildren; 19 great grandchildren; and sister Mary Jo (Marlon) Smith, Crofton
He was preceded in death by his wife Eva, parents, a grandson, Troy Wiebelhaus, and one brother, Dr. Hubert Wiebelhaus.
In lieu of flowers please make a donation to one of the following organizations in Walt's memory:
Avera Foundation for Sister James
Crofton American Legion
Crofton Community Foundation
Messages will be reviewed and posted within 1 business day.
Dear Brain, Deb, and Wiebelhaus Family,
Wanted to write and send my condolences to all of you on the passing of Walt. I spent many good times in Wiebelhaus Recreation over my years in Crofton. Walt was truly one of the nicest people that I have ever met. Always had a nice greeting whenever I would come into the bar. Great guy! I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this difficult time. What a great legacy Walt & Eva have left with your family and the grandchildren. God Bless You All!
Tony Simons - St. Paul, MN
On behalf of the Nebraska Bowling Proprietors Association, we would like to share our deepest condolences on the passing of Walt. The bowling family will keep your family in our thoughts and prayers.
To the Wiebelhaus family: Crofton has lost a legend. Walt and Eve kept their promise to make their establishment family friendly. My then fiance Paul had his first Tom & Jerry there and talked about it for many years. He was a wonderful man.
Linda (Rupiper) Coe
So saddened to hear that Crofton has lost one of its finest. Walt and Eva were such a fixture in the bar, so sad to know he'll no longer be tossing the Tootsie Rolls from his seat. Thanks for the memories, Walt. Much love to the extended Wiebelhaus family. So very sorry for your loss. Dennis and Darlene Bogner (my parents) undoubtedly welcomed him warmly.
Barbara (Bogner) Lee
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. My best memory of Crofton was going in to Walt's and seeing all the Cornhusker memorabilia.
Joe and Tammy Carda
Deb, Brain the the Wiebelhaus family, Our deepest sympathy goes out to all of you. I have many fond memories of Walt. Tootsie rolls for my kids, a soda after one of my high school basketball games or the Tom and Jerry's on Christmas Eve (we always look forward to seeing everyone). Your Dad was a good man and will be greatly missed. We will keep him and all of you in our thought's and prayer's.
Trevor and Peg (Bockholt) Roberts and family
Crofton will miss Walt as a legend for many years, although Walt arranged it so his legacy will be carried on by Brian & Debbie. Wiebelhaus Recreation has been an excellent example of a family pub as it should be.Walt was a great example of how a great man should live his life & contribute to his community & country. You have our sincerest condolances & you have a lot to be proud of!!!
Dave & Joan Steffen
My Heart Aches for you & your Families. When your heart is empty,, filling it with happy memories can help. You are in my Prayers.
To the Family: What a beautiful and perfect obituary. Our boys have always remembered Walt filling their shirts with Tootsie Rolls. I'm so sorry to miss Walt's services, but Todd will be there. We always enjoyed seeing Walt and Eva. Such lovely people. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Wishing you strength, love, and peace.
Shelley & Todd Zart
My deepest sympathy to you and your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Always remember " When someone you love becomes a memory - that memory becomes a treasure."
Brian,Deb and all Family Members. My deepest sympathy to all of you at this sad time. Memories of Walt will never fade. He was a great man. I will keep you in my thought's and prayers. "GOD BLESS'
Jennifer (Bockholt) Good
My deepest sympathy to all family. Spent many a happy hour visiting and enjoying good times with Walt present and adding to the humor and laughter.. Has been missed and will be missed.
Kathleen DeBlauw Roseboom
Marianne & family, so sorry for your loss. An icon of Crofton. Prayers &. Thoughts are with you.
Deb and brian,ruth and i have just received word of the passing of walt.......God will have a great time with walt...im sure he is giving out tootie rolls at the Golden Gate. .....may the Lord bless you and your family ..ed and ruth highland
Brain, Deb, and the Wiebelhaus Family,
I was so sorry to hear of your loss. We always did and still do enjoy going to Wiebelhaus Bar and Rec. We will forever miss Walt's smiling face and the good little jokes or one liners he would come up with when you would walk thru the door. He always made us feel so welcome to come home to Crofton. Every trip had to have at least one stop at the bar (or more). It is still wonderful to always make a stop to see Brian and Deb when our family get's together. Walt will be deeply missed. We will be sure to keep him in our thoughts and prayers.
Paul and Ingrid (Bockholt) Phipps
Coming home to Crofton was never complete until we had gone up to Walt's and saw Walt and Eva. They always made us so welcome. I bowled my first line at Walt's in l954. Cost me a whole $. 35. My dad gave me the choice of bowling or going to the movie for $.12. Thanks Brian and Debbie for continuing a tradition.
Alyce Buschelman Van Kirk
We have many fond memories of Walt! Our thoughts and prayers are with you all!
Ken & Mary Thunker
Gary and family ,
Sorry this is so late - just heard or your fathers passing from wife's step- mother , Majorie Tramp, she ran a cafe in town years ago - I am sure you may not remember me, but we use to bowl together years ago at Kelly's Hill Top in Omaha - we use to take our team up to your fathers place and bowl in a local tournament in his alleys - we would drive up, bowl, take your folks out to eat at Bogners steakhouse and drive back to Omaha - I will never forget your father always giving me a hard time when we arrived in Crofton for the tournament, as we had been drinking beer all morning and when i refused a beer in lieu of a coke when we arrived he always asked me " are you counting them" - was always a long day but we had the greatest time taking Walt and your Mom out to eat afterwards.
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