Those We Lost in 2022

A legendary coach, beloved teachers, a seminal artist, and a chronicler of local history are just a few of the people we said goodbye to in 2022.

Francha Barnard 

Door County lost a community activist, enthusiastic volunteer and supporter of the arts when Francha Barnard died in July at age 76. She retired to the peninsula in 2005 and became a poet, immersing herself in the peninsula’s literary scene. Read more>>

Jim Benesh

One of the most accomplished coaches in peninsula history, Jim Benesh was notified that he would be inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame shortly before he died of multiple myeloma at age 56 in February. He taught and coached at Sturgeon Bay High School for 32 years, and his boys basketball teams won more than 400 games. Read more>>

Susan Bhirdo

Bhirdo’s by the Bay has been a late-night savior for residents of Northern Door since Bhirdo, known as “Ma Bhirdo” to many, opened it with her husband, Dennis, in 1984. Bhirdo, who died in April at age 80, would often work the late-night shift and could be found behind the counter till the wee hours of the morning.  Full obituary>>

Charles Corcoran

Throughout six decades in the marine business, including 41 as the owner of Corcoran Marine, Charles Corcoran earned a reputation as a trusted mechanic with a wealth of knowledge. He was 73 when he died of a heart attack on Thanksgiving morning. Read more>>

Delmar Dahl

In October, the community lost a gentle servant with the passing of Delmar Dahl. Known as “the county’s clergyman,” Dahl served in posts at congregations throughout Door County and the U.S., and he was particularly adept at helping those who had suffered loss or were terminally ill. He died in October at age 95. Read more>>

Annette Erickson

For 26 years at two-room schoolhouses in Ephraim and Appleport, Erickson gave children a start in school as the kindergarten teacher for generations of Northern Door students. She died in October at age 94. Full obituary>>

Virginia Hanson

Virginia Hanson lived nearly all of her 97 years at the top of the hill in Ellison Bay before she died in May. In 2003, she and her husband, Russell, sold the property with an iconic view to the Liberty Grove Historical Society and moved – but only across the road. Read more about Hanson here>>

Jan Luser

For nearly four decades, Luser was an influential member of the Egg Harbor business community as the owner of Cinnamon Windmill and an ambassador for the village’s Main Street Shops. She was also active on many boards and committees. She died at age 80 in February. Full obituary>>

Robert Nickel

Nickel spent 39 years in school administration, including at Sevastopol and Sturgeon Bay schools, where he was known for his passion for music. After he died in February at age 61, Sturgeon Bay began a fundraising effort to upgrade the school auditorium in his honor. Read more>>

Joe Parent

Joe Parent ran the family excavating and land-clearing business for nearly seven decades, making the Parent name one of the most recognized on the peninsula and the company one of the largest employers in Northern Door. He was 86 when he died in May. Full obituary>>

Chick Peterson

Few names loom larger in the history of Door County artists than that of Charles “Chick” Peterson, who was 95 when he died in June. Chick gained national standing doing illustrations for WoodenBoat, Cruising World and Sail magazines, but it’s the 60 paintings in his Memory Collection, completed between 1989 and 2004, that have “spoken” to thousands of people. Read more>>

Leonard Sawosko

When Leonard Sawosko and his wife opened the Albatross drive-in restaurant on Washington Island, they created a traditional stop for thousands of island visitors for the next 45 years. He was 80 when he died in August. Full obituary>>

Carl Scholz

Carl Scholz became the superintendent at Sevastopol at age 26 and held the position for 34 years. That would be quite an impact for most people who live 95 years, but Scholz was also an environmentalist and an influential voice in the Door County Land Trust, The Ridges Sanctuary, as co-founder of The Farm and as a teacher before he died in March. Read more>>

Harvey Stahl

A Navy veteran and graduate of Gibraltar High School, Stahl returned to the county to serve as the superintendent of Potawatomi and Newport State Parks for 32 years. Outside the parks, Stahl served for 25 years as a volunteer firefighter for the Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Department. He died in November at age 88. Read more>>

Patty Williamson, PhD

After retiring to Door County, Patty Williamson found a second career writing about the people and history of Door County for the Peninsula Pulse. She wrote more than 340 stories for the Pulse after the age of 74, and she also wrote History of Kangaroo Lake and See You under the Stars: The History of American Folklore Theatre, for which she was a dedicated volunteer. Williamson was 88 when she died in September. Read more>>

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