Cover photo for Robert Charles Skemp's Obituary
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1927 Robert 2024

Robert Charles Skemp

November 6, 1927 — June 9, 2024

La Crosse

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Robert Charles Skemp, age 96, passed away on Sunday, June 9, 2024. Born in La Crosse, WI to Thomas and Beulah Skemp, Bob graduated from Aquinas High School in 1945 and completed an accelerated first year at St. Mary’s College in Winona before being drafted into the army. He finished his studies at St. Mary’s in 1949 and graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1952. 

He spent his 60 plus-year law career at Hale, Skemp, Hanson, Skemp and Sleik Law Firm in La Crosse, building many friendships among colleagues and clients. Working well into his 80s, Bob was honored by the Wisconsin State Bar Association with the 2010 Senior Lawyers Division Leonard L. Loeb Award for exceptional contributions to the community and to the goal of justice for all Wisconsin citizens.

It was during his time in Winona that he met his future bride, Fran Perry, and together they embarked on a 65-year adventure of love that included ten children and a progression of beagles. Bob shared his love of the outdoors with his children, bringing them up to grandpa’s farm evenings and weekends to explore the hills behind the bluffs of La Crosse. 

With his father and, later, his farmer-partner Gus Wendorf, he started a dairy farm on “Ski-Hi,” spending much of his free time working there and developing a tree farm on the forested acres, part of which supplied his children’s Christmas trees for years. His first planting of walnut trees took place in 1974. He told his children that he would never live to see the harvest of those trees, that he planted them for his children and grandchildren. A couple more months would have proved him wrong, as the harvesting of those first plantings is scheduled for this summer. Pointing out his favorite walnut trees, he proudly showed off his land to anyone who was brave enough for the gator ride.

Bob loved La Crosse. His volunteer commitments in his city include decades of service to the Aquinas Foundation for which he was the founding director, the Memorial Day Association, and the Boy Scouts of America Gateway Area Council. He was very happy to be able to lead a Boy Scout troop at St. Michael’s Orphanage. He was a founding trustee of the Endowment Trusts for Blessed Sacrament parish, where he was also an active parishioner. He managed the Paul E. Stry Foundation, belonged to the Walnut Council of America, and served as president of the La Crosse County Historical Society. 

He also served in various ways for the United Way, the La Crosse Chamber of Commerce, Viterbo University, UW-La Crosse, Aquinas Catholic Schools, and the Family and Children’s Center. He was recognized for his commitment to this community with distinguished alumnus awards from both Aquinas Catholic Schools and St. Mary’s University of Winona; the Hagerman Legacy in Scouting Award; the Spheres of Influence Award from the Franciscan Skemp Foundation - not to mention his Bridge Marathon Champion Award of 1965. 

Aficionado of conservative politics, his heroes were William F. Buckley Jr. and Ronald Reagan. He was an inveterate Packer fan, owning season tickets since 1959 and attending the famous Ice Bowl. Bob was part of numerous bridge clubs over the years and continued to play online up to the end. An enthusiastic traveler, Bob fully enjoyed the world he lived in. Early on, the traveling was in a rented Winnebago full of children rolling across the highways of the USA. Later he and Fran took many trips to Europe and cruises in various places around the world. He and Fran flew around the world in the Concorde and shook hands with Saint Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. In later years his children and their spouses joined mom and dad on cruises to celebrate 55, and then 60, years together. 

When Bob and Fran retired to the farm, their kids knew that they could always join their parents for a Sunday picnic. Every Christmas Bob presided over the family sing-along, proudly listening to his grandchildren’s voices and string talents. Family was foremost for Bob and he always said how happy he was to be surrounded by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They in turn felt secure and protected in his presence; he was a generous, loving father.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife, Fran, grandson John Roman Uehling, sisters Katherine Lotzer and Betty Curtis, brothers, Tom, Joe, and Bill and his brothers- and sisters-in-law. He leaves behind his sister Eileen Gass, his children: Tom (Janine), Fran Sauer (Greg), Eileen Francksen (Carl), Bob (Jean), Joan Binder (Bill), Carol Steingraeber (Mark), Katherine Uehling (John), Helen Roop (Kevin), Ted (Jessica), Mary (Mark Pitsch); his grandchildren Dylan (Kim) and Meredyth (Bobby Cupp) Skemp, Elizabeth, Anneliese (Rob Morrow), Michael, and Krissy Sauer, Eric (Crystal), Paul (Stephanie Donahue), Philip (Janelle), and Joey Francksen, Carleigh Ramirez (Eston) and Camille Ristow, Stephanie and Bobby Skemp, Heidi and Sonia (Joe Nauss) Binder, Bob (Caitlin McGuire), Mark (Kelly Faber), Sam, and Emilie Steingraeber, Robert (Sara) and Teddy Uehling, James (Shilpa Duvoor), Mary (Kam Clary), Erin, Clare, and Connor Roop, Cecilia and Thomas Skemp, and Henry and Sophie Pitsch;  21 great-grandchildren; as well as many beloved nieces and nephews with whom he loved to spend time.

A man of deep and abiding faith, Bob looked forward to joining the love of his life, Fran, in the afterlife. We find comfort in their reunion in Christ. A Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, June 14, 2024, at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (130 Losey Blvd. So., La Crosse, WI) with burial to be held in the Catholic Cemetery, La Crosse, WI. Family and friends may visit from 9:30 a.m. until the time of Mass in the church on Friday and on Thursday, June 13, 2024, 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. at Blaschke and Schneider Funeral Home (1501 West Avenue South, La Crosse, WI).

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Charles Skemp, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Upcoming Services

Visitation

Thursday, June 13, 2024

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Blaschke Schneider Funeral Home

1501 West Avenue South, La Crosse, WI 54601

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Visitation

Friday, June 14, 2024

9:30 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

130 Losey Blvd S, La Crosse, WI 54601

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Friday, June 14, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

130 Losey Blvd S, La Crosse, WI 54601

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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