Those We Lost in 2023

Ronald D. Berg

Ronald Berg spent most of his 89 years serving his community as a Sturgeon Bay alder and on the boards of many community nonprofits, the County Board of Supervisors and the Door County Chamber of Commerce. Berg died in August. 

Jean Berkenstock

For 43 years, the woman dubbed “the Magic Flute” was the principal flutist of the Chicago Lyric Opera, and in 1991 she founded Midsummer’s Music in Door County. She performed with the summer series for 28 years and helped build it into an institution before she died at age 89 in October. 

Don “Yukon” Erickson

The mason known to most only by his nickname was a founding partner of Carlson-Erickson Builders, Appleport Storage and Champeau Floor Covering. Erickson was 85 when he died in February. 

George Evenson

A farmer who committed his life to community service, Evenson helped create The Farm and Crossroads at Big Creek, restored the Hanson House and worked to save the church that became the Belgium Heritage Center. He was a longtime Door County Board supervisor, president of the Door County Historical Society and a sprint proponent for historical preservation. He served on the board of the Nature Conservancy, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and many other boards and associations. He was studying history up to the day he died in January at the age of 93.

Erwin “Erv” Hitzeman

The former carpenter and real estate agent served two terms as Sister Bay village president, including during the controversial decision to expand the village marina in the early 1990s. He was 84.

Walter “Corky” Hellyer

A man whose face became synonymous with real estate in Door County began his career as a respected innovator in sleep as the president of Columbia Bedding Co. He died in January at age 89. 

Bradley Jordan

The tight-knit community on Washington Island was stunned when Jordan, age 23, died in a motorcycle crash in July. 

Dennis McIntosh

The former mayor and police chief of Sturgeon Bay died in November at age 76. During his single term as mayor he helped secure funding for the Maple to Oregon Street Bridge and sought construction of the new city hall. 

Marlene “Tudy” Ekman Nicolazzo

The artist who studied under Jens Jensen and Gerhard Miller went on to create sand oil paintings for publishers and was featured in galleries throughout the peninsula. She died in March at age 81.

Stephen McNeil

McNeil served as Sturgeon Bay’s city administrator from 2008-2015 and was remembered as a man who “spoke the language of business.” He retired to Florida, where he died in June at age 76.

Delmar “Pickle” Olson

Door County lost one of its most legendary servers when the man known to everyone as Pickle died in April at age 77. The former owner of Husby’s spent 30 years behind the bar there, quick with his sarcastic wit and dry laugh (but not so much his feet). 

Paul Peterson

One of the county’s longest-serving town chairs, Peterson died in October at age 70. He served as Egg Harbor Town Chair from 2007 until his death.

Diane Paterson

The coach of Sturgeon Bay’s first girls athletics team to win a state title died in September at age 77. The teacher and coach led the school’s volleyball, basketball and track teams to conference, regional and sectional championships as well, and was inducted into the first class of the Sturgeon Bay Clipper Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017. 

James Alan Rose

A nationally recognized artist known for making steel furniture, Rose’s work is found in private and public collections across the country. He died at age 56 in February.

Jim Stollenwork

The 2019 Ephraim Fyr Bal Chieftain and former Ephraim village trustee died at age 92 in November.

John Van Dreese

For decades, Van’s Bar was a mainstay on Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay, with John behind the bar for many of those years. The man who also opened the original Pudgy Seagull restaurant died just before the new year on Dec. 27, 2022 at age 84.

Jane Wienke

Wienke’s Market has been synonymous with local agricultural products since Jane and Don Wienke founded the store and brand in 1970s. The tireless worker who built a business with a far-reaching reputation was 82 when she died in February. 

Jay Zahn 

Once the news director at WDOR Radio, Zahn became Door County treasurer in 1991 and held the office until he retired in 2021. He served on many boards including the Sevastopol School Board, Door County Historical Society and the state Treasurer’s Association. He died in August at age 66.