Cover photo for Ronald (Ron) W.  Hammes's Obituary
Ronald (Ron) W.  Hammes Profile Photo

Ronald (Ron) W. Hammes

d. May 13, 2016

Ronald “Ron” W. Hammes, 78, was welcomed into heaven on May 13, 2016 and was greeted by his father (Leo), three brothers (David, Robert and Jerome), a sister (Mary Ellen Pitz), two brothers-in-law (Ron Pitz and James Freit), and his parents-in-law (Eugene and Elizabeth Freit).

He was born on July 21, 1937, to Leo and Irene (Gronemus) Hammes of Middle Ridge, and helped on family farms there with his five brothers and two sisters. He attended school in Middle Ridge and Bangor.

He married his longtime school sweetheart, Jeanette Ann Freit, on June 1, 1957, at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Middle Ridge. The newlywed couple moved to La Crosse where Ron learned the appliance repair trade at Wettstein’s. In1972, he opened Ron Hammes Refrigeration with an office in the family home and bookkeeping done by Jeanette.

The family business expanded over the years with the help of his children, grandchildren, extended family and dedicated employees. For a brief time, he ran another business that grew out of his loyalty to his favorite brand of lawn tractors, a John Deere dealership. Ron “retired” from the refrigeration business in 2000, but continued to drive a pick-up truck around town bearing the well-known blue and white company logo and color scheme.

Ron filled his time away from the business on the hobby farm he and Jeanette bought in Middle Ridge. The farm was formerly a part of his own Hammes family farm and over the years he restored a two-story, hand-hewn log cabin, converted a chicken coop into a living space, and built a work shed for his mechanical tinkering during the winter months. He loved the coulee and spent hours cutting the 22 acres of grass, often by himself, using that time to think about his business, family or the next tractor repair/restoration project he wanted to take on. He never met a tractor auction he didn’t like, and filled his time as often as possible traversing the region to take in as many as he and Jeanette could fit into their schedule.

Ron wasn’t a stranger to anyone for long. He had a big heart and was quick to make anyone feel welcomed with his warm smile, quick laugh and the twinkle in his eye. He was a teacher at heart and always sought to coach others to use his or her unique God-given gifts. He was also a champion of the “underdog” and tried to help them overcome the challenges that might have otherwise seemed insurmountable to them.

Ron is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jeanette; their six children, Dean (Lori) Hammes of La Crosse, Patricia (Don) Heim of Nashville, TN, Steve (Pam Phelps) Hammes of La Crosse, Ann (Tom Pugh) Lee Burton Round Lake, IL, James (Sheri) Hammes of La Crosse, and Elizabeth (Chris) Weaver of Tomah; thirteen grandchildren, Nick, Sarah, William, Matt, Michael, Kevin, Amanda, Ashley, Ryan, Jessica, Daniel, Allison and Samantha; and four great-grandchildren, Olivia, Ava, Bennett and Ava. He is further survived by his 100-year old mother, Irene Hammes; siblings Kenny Hammes, Leo (Jan) Hammes and Renee Hammes (Steve Althoff); sister-in-law Janice Freit, brother-in-law Eugene (Berdine) Freit; and numerous extended family members.

Visitation will be from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. (Rosary at 6:30 p.m.) on Wednesday, May 18 at Blaschke & Schneider Funeral Homes, 1501 West Ave. South, La Crosse, and again from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Parish, 130 Losey Blvd. South, La Crosse. A Mass of Christian burial will be concelebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 19 at Blessed Sacrament Parish with Msgr. Robert Hundt and Fr. Peter Raj. Entombment will follow in the Garden Mausoleum at Catholic Cemetery, La Crosse.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Blessed Sacrament Parish, Catholic Charities of La Crosse or the charity of the donor’s choice.

Special thanks to all the staff at Bethany Riverside Homes, Gundersen Lutheran Health System, especially to Cindy Vieth, RN, for their tender and uplifting care this past year.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ronald (Ron) W. Hammes, please visit our flower store.


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