Otto J. Rusch, age 84, of Washburn, passed away on Monday, April 13, 2015 at Northern Lights Health Care Center in Washburn, WI.
He was born on October 27, 1930 in Manitowoc, WI, the son of Otto H. and Mathilda (Behnke) Rusch. Otto graduated from Brillion High School in 1948. On December 3, 1949 he married Dorothy Krueger, the daughter of Edmund and Hildegarde Krueger, in Kasson, WI. He was a life time entrepreneur, starting with selling a prize steer while in high school and buying the small farm across the road from his parents’ farm. This work ethic and drive to be the most he could be continued throughout his life. After graduating from high school, he worked at Brillion Iron Works full time. It was there that Cliff Schwenn noticed Otto and asked both Don Brunner and Otto if they would leave Brillion Iron Works to work for him in a foundry he was going to start in Waupaca, Wisconsin – the year was 1955. Otto and Dorothy moved their young family 60 miles west to Waupaca, where his dedication for the foundry industry flourished. If you ask those who subsequently worked for him, most would say he was a good man and a good teacher who expected an honest day’s work out of you. If he asked you to do something, odds were that sometime in his life he had done it himself. Otto left Waupaca in the mid 70s shortly after the Budd Company buy out. He continued his lifelong foundry career when he purchased the closed Washburn Foundry in 1976, naming it Washburn Iron Works. His achievement with the foundry earned him the State award of Small Business Man of the year in 1992. Numerous citations of achievement came in the subsequent years. In 2002 he went into full retirement, passing the foundry torch to the next generation. Currently “Otto’s Foundry” is a third generation foundry. He remained very proud of his work at both Waupaca and Washburn and the people he encouraged within the organization, many of whom became key to the foundries’ successes. Otto was a hard-working man, but if that was all you knew of him, you missed the real Otto. He achieved and prospered because he felt it was his Christian duty to use the talents that God had given him and living by the golden rule. This was evident in many of his actions and activities, from the volunteering he did at the Lions Club or Board positions at numerous development authorities, and lastly by his various duties at church. If you knew this “Good Man”, we hope that you will join us in celebrating his life on earth and rejoice in his earthly departure to meet his Creator and Lord.
Otto is survived by his wife, Dorothy; children: Dale, Debra (Kevin Smith), Rhonda (Tom Keyser), Randall (Teresa), Raelyn (David Pearson), and Richard; his 18 grandchildren: Sarah (Orrion), Molly (Jesse), Ryan (Amber), Dylan (Molly), Adam, Aaron (Rebecca), Amelia, Marett (David), Brandon, Jordan, Garrett, Hannah, Tavis (Nicole), Taylor (Leah), Claydon (Samantha), Cole (Jenaye), Emma and Evan; 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his parents, his siblings, Orman, Roy, and Elleanore and their spouses.
Visitation was held on Thursday, April 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Bratley Funeral Home in Washburn and from noon until the hour of service at the church on Friday. The Funeral Service was held at 1 pm on Friday, April 17 at Zion Lutheran Church in Ashland with Vicar Rick Williams officiating. Lunch followed at the church. Burial was at 4 p.m. on Friday in the Woodland Cemetery in Washburn. Per his wishes, a memorial service was held at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 19, 2015 at St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church in Brillion, WI. Pastor Mark Krueger led the celebration of Otto’s life. Lunch followed at the Cobblestone. To view this obituary online, sign the guestbook or express online condolences, visit us at www.bratleyfamilyfuneralhomes.com