Donald E. Krahn

Krahn_webDonald E. Krahn, age 81, of the town of Big Flats, Wisconsin died Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at his home.

Memorial services will be 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 30, 2016 at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.   Pastor Paul Tullberg will officiate. Visitation will be 10:00 a.m. until the time of service on Thursday at the church.

Donald was born April 29, 1935 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin to Erwin H. and Gertrude D.(Rupnow) Krahn.

Donald attended grade school in the town of Oak Grove and graduated from Juneau High School as Valedictorian of his class.  He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Carroll College and took post graduate classes at UW- Whitewater, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Stout, U of Cal at Berkley, SIU at Carbondale, FSU- Canal Zone Branch.

Donald married Geneva R. Werner on October 19, 1957 in Juneau, Wisconsin.

Donald was drafted into the United States Army in 1957 and was stationed in the Panama Canal working in the medical corps until 1959 on active duty.   He then served in the Army Reserves and was honorably discharged in November of 1963.

From 1961 until 1968 Donald was a biology teacher at Ft. Atkinson High School.  In 1968 he started his career at WEAC where he worked as Field Consultant from 1968-69, Director of Field Services from 1969-73, Director of Legal Services from 1973-97, and as Executive Director from 1997 until his retirement in 1999.

Donald enjoyed deer hunting, working on his tree farm, playing cards, and photography. He also enjoyed attending his grandchildren’s sports and other school activities.

Donald was a member of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church where he was a former member of the church council and chair of the education committee.  He was also a member of the WWOA, Central Sands Chapter of WWOA, the NCWRPC where he was appointed by Gov. Doyle, and the Adams County Master Gardeners

Donald was preceded in death by his parents, Erwin & Gertrude (Rupnow) Krahn; Parents-in-law, Walter & Elsie (Schmidt) Werner; Sister-in-law, Delores (Werner) Arndorfer Jaehnke; Brothers-in-law, Paul Arndorfer & Roland Heuer.



Wife:  Geneva Krahn

Daughter:  Cheryl (James) Ross

Grandchildren:  John, Cassandra, Nicholas & Kristofer Ross

Daughter:  Wendy (Ken) Goerke

Grandson:  Walter (Haley) Tuttle

Son:  James (Joy) Krahn

Grandchildren:  Jesse & Jasmine Krahn

Honorary Grandson: Kenny Sedevic

Great-Granddaughter:  Raven Ross

Sister:  Beverly (Howard) Gibson

Sister:  Marjorie Heuer

Sister:  Marlene (Albert) Schoenwetter

Further survived by numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends

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  1. Leigh Barker says:

    Dear Geneva and Family,
    You have been in my thoughts and prayers since I heard the news of Don’s passing, but most especially today when you held the memorial service to remember and honor this wonderful man. I was unable to attend in person today, but please know that my thoughts have been of Don and all of you today.

    Don was one of the most intelligent, strategic and kind men I have ever had the privilege to know and get to work with. Don always explained his reasoning and helped bring others to conclusions he’d figured out much sooner. He was a true gentleman, treating others with respect and dignity.

    Don shaped WEAC in so many ways. I recall him explaining to me once long ago that the brilliance of the “uniserv structure” was that it would serve as a check and balance on too strong a state exec or state president OR on too weak a one! (How we saw that lived out in practice over the decades.) I recall Don giving me a lesson in humility, and strategy, when he mused that schools might well have reached some of the same conclusions re. working conditions that we were attempting to force onto them. These and hundreds of other discussions/lessons took place over soup at the Badger Bowl. Don was so open to sharing himself.

    He lived a good life that positively impacted thousands of individuals and furthered the important goal of education.

    I hope many warm, beautiful memories live on in each of you.

    Sincerely, Leigh Barker

  2. Bob & Kathleen Challoner says:

    Geneva and family
    So sorry for your families loss. We are glad to have had the opportunity to talk with you and Don before his passing.
    Our thoughts and prayers for your family.

  3. Deborah Byers says:

    Don was an exceptional human being. I greatly respected and admired him. He will be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  4. Donna Dykstra says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time.

  5. Dennis & Cathy Rathermel says:

    So sorry to read of your loss. Take care and God bless

  6. Randy Johnson says:

    Wendy and family, so sorry to hear of Don’s passing, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Was always a pleasure to stop out and visit with Don, he will truly be missed!

  7. John Matthews says:

    Don and I began working for the Union about the same time, in the late 1960’s, and continued for decades. It took a very brief time for me to learn of Don’s high intelligence, integrity, creativity and dedication to the cause of WEA (WEAC) and its members. Because of these traits, he was given full credibility by the members, and the staff, and because of that WEAC through his leadership moved forward more and more quickly than the Union in any other state. As Director of Field Services, his leadership enabled staff and teacher leaders to negotiate rights and benefits for members which teachers to the level enjoyed by teachers in no other states. Though not a lawyer, he was appointed Director of Legal Services. His knowledge, skill and leadership once against proved of great benefit for WEAC members, through his skill in acquiring some of the best union attorneys and letting them do their job.

    Don theorized that the Union could provide members with greater benefits at lesser cost by forming its own insurance trust. That company which provides health and dental insurance was created and his thrived to the advantage of WEAC members. A separate company provides members auto and home owners insurance as well as star deferred annuities – all of these provide union members with quality benefits at far less cost/rates than could be accesses through commercial companies. And, all are available because of Don’s ingenuity and dedication.

    Don will be missed by the family to whom he was so dedicated, and by those who worked with him – and by the hundreds of thousands of Union members whose lives were made better because of his advocacy.

  8. John Utrie says:

    So sorry to hear of Don’s passing he truly will be missed. I know God will give you & your family strength during this difficult time .

  9. Jennifer Armstrong says:

    Geneva, Wendy, Cheryl, Nick and family, I am sorry to hear about Don’s passing. He was a wonderful man with a lot of stories. I enjoyed taking care of him. He had over came a lot when i used to take care of him. May God comfort you at this time of need.

  10. Ellen Henningsen says:

    Don was my boss at WEAC for several years. He was a kind man dedicated to the best interest of others. I liked working with him.

    May your happy memories sustain you during this difficult time of loss and grief.

    Ellen Henningsen

  11. Dick Feldhsusen says:

    I was very saddened to hear of Don’s death. He was a true gentleman and exceptional leader. His legacy will never be forgotten.

  12. Frank Burdick says:

    I was very sorry to hear that Don had passed. Please accept my sympathy and know that Don, more than anyone in WEAC, had a profound impact on my life.
    He was my first “boss” when I joined the WEAC staff in 1970 and he always treated me with respect even though he knew I was pretty inexperienced and naive. Don’s approach to training was “throw him in the water and he will learn how to swim soon enough.” It worked, I learned fast.
    I believe your husband had a profound impact on WEAC. He was a key person in the creation of the WEA Trust, the development of UniServ in Wisconsin and the passage of legislation, following the Hotonville strike, that created binding arbitration as a means of settling collective bargaining disputes in public employee collective bargaining in Wisconsin.
    He will be missed by many and his legacy will be remembered as one of the strongest and most effective leaders that helped transform the organization from a professional non-adversarial “education association” into one of the strongest and most effective “public employees union’s” in the country.

  13. Sandy & Doug Wellumson says:

    Til we meet again at Jesus’ feet

  14. Bob West says:

    Don was always a major presence for my entire time with WEAC. We fought some tough battles and had spirited debate about strategy. Don contributed so much for so many in his years as an advocate. He enjoyed jabbing me and challenging me and at times it was more fun for him than me but none the less in the end we had the same goals. We came so close to losing Don in his horrific car accident and he carried the scars with him for a lot of years. Not often someone comes along who has such a profound impact. Bob West

  15. Penny Ruck and family says:

    So sorry for the loss for your family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  16. Doug Lueck says:

    Geneva –

    So sorry for your loss. My sincere sympathies to you and your family.
    Came to known Don when hired by WEAC 30 years ago and am so glad we crossed paths on the road of life. Have wonderful memories of occasionally bumping into the you of you at the Hwy 26/I-94 Pine Cone and sitting in his office at the close of the work day to solve all the world’s problems. He may not have appreciated it, and it’s arguably a terrible play on words, but I turned his initials into the affectionate nickname of Mr. Decay Germ. His intelligence, quick wit, wonderful sense of humor and leprechaun twinkle in the eyes will abide forever.

  17. Peter Gust says:

    So sorry to hear of this loss for your family and our profession. Don was an exceptional leader for me. I will miss his presence in my life and this world is a little poorer today at his passing

  18. Steve Pieroni says:

    Geneva and family,
    Our thoughts are with you. I will cherish my recent visit with you and Don. Don will be missed by so many whose lives were touched for the better by Don.
    Blessings and condolences,
    Steve and Rita

  19. Christine Marti (Brad) says:

    So sorry for your loss. I have great memories of polka and cards with Donald. Prayers to your family. My your memories help heal your hearts.

  20. Herb and Deb Barnes says:

    Our deepest condolences to all of you. May the peace of God sustain you in the days ahead.

  21. Judy Alderman says:

    So sorry for your families loss

  22. Kathy Cappel says:

    Sorry to hear of your loss Cheri….you are in my thoughts and prayers

  23. Ron and Carol Johnson says:

    Cheryl and Wendy,
    You have our deepest sympathy on the loss of your father. Remember all the good times and cherish the fond memories. May God wrap His arms around you now and see you both through this tough time.
    Your Friends,
    Ron and Carol

  24. Peg & Loren Lecy says:

    May God. Family and friends comfort you during this difficult time. Hold each other tight and share your memories. So sorry on your loss.