Bernard R. “Ben” Buchner, age 88, died December 22, 2021. He was born April 18, 1933 at home in La Crosse, WI to Bernard J. “Bernie” Buchner and Elizabeth “Liz” (Schmidt) Buchner. He attended Holy Trinity grade school and graduated from Aquinas High School in 1951.
His father purchased the Midway Bar, now Sloopy’s, from his siblings in 1946. The family moved from the southside to above the Midway Bar. Ben spent many hours bartending during his high school years. After high school he went to work as a plumber apprentice for the George J. McKoskey Plumbing and Heating Company working on the Holy Cross Seminary Project.
His apprenticeship was interrupted when he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War in 1953. He served in France with the 97th Engineer Battalion. While he was in the service, his father started the Bernie J. Buchner Plumbing and Heating Company. When Ben returned from the Army he went to work for his father as a plumber apprentice. They worked on many area projects such as plumbing at Marion Hall and the HVAC at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral.
Eventually, Ben’s five younger brothers joined the company. Later the six sons bought the company from their father and formed Bernie J. Buchner Mechanical Contractors Incorporated. Ben, who held a Master Plumber’s license in Wisconsin and Minnesota, served as president of the corporation until his retirement on January 1, 1999. He took great joy in being able to work on all the plumbing and HVAC at Aquinas High School (his alma mater and the alma mater of all of his children) including the new middle school and gymnasium as well as the Villa St. Joseph. Some of the nuns that taught him or his children were residing there and he loved to eat lunch with them occasionally and talk with them about old times.
On June 22, 1957, he married Lois Herman from Bangor, WI at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. They were married for 64 years and had seven children.
Ben and Lois bought a few acres of land near Galesville. This served as the perfect place for family gatherings. It also served as a great deer hunting cabin. Many great times and beautiful memories were had at this scenic location.
He was a member of St. James the Less Catholic Church and had served on the Parish Council and the building and grounds committee and served as a Eucharistic Minister and lector for 35 years. Ben also was a member of the Roy L. Vingers American Legion Post 52.
Ben took great pride in being able to donate his labor and talent with relatives; friends; organizations like St. John’s, St. James, Boys and Girls Club, the Villa, and Aquinas.
Ben is survived by his loving wife, Lois and his children: Gerianne Wettstein, Sandra (Alan) Alden, Thomas (fiance’ Kathryn Wisco), Angela Young, Michele (Joel) Eby, Joseph (Meg,) and Dana (Greg) Hinn; his grandchildren Jaime (Michael) Erickson, Jordana (Adam) Stark and Jarrod Wettstein; Hillary Williams and Benjamin (Jenna) Alden; Tommy (Casey) Buchner and Megan (Brandon) McHugh; Kendal (Miranda) and Cameron Young; Erika (Randy Meister) and Nathan Eby; Lane, Vincent, and Silas Buchner; and Madelyn and Annalise Davies. His great-grandchildren, Emma Wittenberg-Buchner and Haylie Buchner; Addison and Cooper Stark; Devyn and Ethan Williams; Henry, Elise, and Cecelia Alden; London Young and Jameson McHugh. He is also survived by brothers Orville, Marlin (Elaine) and Gary, and his only sister, Elaine (Pat) Doyle, his sisters-in-law, Phyllis Buchner, Marietta Seaquist, Diana Buchner, Delores Coburn, Carol (Carol) Liefke, Eileen Herman and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers Lloyd and baby Grosbach, Virgil and Gordon Buchner; brothers-in-law, Gofland Miller, Frank Coburn, Merlin Adams, Virgil Bohl and Everett Herman; sisters-in-law Hazel Miller, Joyce Adams and Harriet Bohl; nephews John Buchner, Tim Doyle and Wayne Bohl; nieces Barbara Adams Kendhammer and Dee Ann Buchner Gray.
Ben would like to thank the staff at Bethany St. Joseph’s for their loving care as well as the medical staff at St. Mary’s and Franciscan Skemp, especially the doctors and therapists in Cardiac Care.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, in St. James the Less Catholic Church, 1032 Caledonia Street, La Crosse. Rev. Woody Pace will officiate with burial to be held in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, with Military Honors performed by the Roy L. Vingers American Legion Post No. 52. Family and friends may visit from 9:30 AM until 10:30 AM at Church on Wednesday. There will be a Rosary at 10:30 AM at Church before Mass begins. MASKS ARE MANDATORY and social distancing is strongly encouraged.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Boys and Girls Club or the Aquinas Foundation.