Cover photo for John Kersten's Obituary
John Kersten Profile Photo
1943 John 2022

John Kersten

September 26, 1943 — February 20, 2022

"Jack" John J. Kersten

I was given the gift of life, but now I must give it back.

I was born in the fall of 1943, on the 26th day of September in Green Bay Wis, the firstborn child of John and Irene (Wilz) Kersten. Given the name John Jay Kersten, I would always be called "Jack".

I'm proud to say I was a lifelong learner. Graduating from Premontre High School with the class of 1961, I attended UWGB, and took many woodworking courses over the years at Denmark High School, NWTC and the Artisan Center. I was also an investor, caring on the lessons my father taught me at an early age, passing them on to my children and grandchildren.

In the mid 60's my 42 year career began at Wisconsin Public Service as a draftsman. We bought a farm in Denmark where we raised beef cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, rabbits, horses and where one of our border collies was always ready to work. I was employed with Equity Livestock for many years grading sheep. My three boys learned how to shear sheep, John still shears today.

A member of the Rough Riders Saddle Club, family and friends horseback riding, camping, hosting horse shows, and I organized many overnight rides over the years. Simply put, I loved the outdoors.

One of the very best days of my life is the one where I lost my wallet on a horseback ride. The lady who found it left a note, and after meeting for dinner to thank her, I told my son "Mitch, I think I've found the one. She even has her own tractor." And just like that, Dianna came into our lives and changed everything for the better. I finished the living quarters of our horse trailer and we continued camping with family and friends. When we weren't hauling horses we carried bicycles, or a canoe.

Working with wood was always my passion. Retirement allowed time to take turning classes at the Artisan Center, becoming a member of the Woodworkers Guild, joining a group of like minded wood workers at "The Barn". There I crafted wood into ornaments, plates, bowls, music boxes, and utensils. At Christmas my family members would take turns choosing their gift from a collection of my work, each burned with my initials. I hope these treasures will be passed on for many generations, as a reminder of the happy times I spent at the barn making each piece with love.

Dianna and I were able to visit Scotland, Canada, Mexico and Alaska. For several years we spent 4 weeks of our winter on the island of Isla Mujeres where our home there was a revolving door for our kids, family, and friends.

While working a full time job and running a farm kept me away from most of the activities of my own children, retirement gave me the chance to relive those days through my grandchildren. I attended Christmas programs, concerts, and sporting events as my grandchildren and great-grandchildren grew before my eyes.

If there is a silver lining to being diagnosed with glioblastoma, it is the gift of being given a chance to focus on the important things in life. I've cherished the undivided attention of my family, sharing memories, bits of wisdom, many laughs, a few tears, and all my favorite foods. I've enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, and conversations with good friends. Thank you for your visits. You brought sunshine to my day!

I'm survived by my loving wife, Dianna Matzke who not only carried me (emotionally and physically) through the past months, but also became the glue for the rest of our family.

I leave behind three sons and daughters-in-law to carry on my legacy. John & Geralyn Kersten, Steve & Kim Kersten, and Mitch & Carri Kersten. Boys, when you look in the mirror, remember that fantastic head of hair you see is my lasting gift to you.

Watching my sons raise their own families brought me some of my happiest days. John & Geralyn's children Ricky & Mary Rein and their children Lola and Vince, Heather & Rory Barth and their children Bennett & Maggie, Connor Kersten, and Brooke & Jake Gorzek. Steve & Kim's children Nicole, Cecilia and Brenna. Mitch & Carri's children Taylor & Cioni Sepnafski, Collin & Jennifer Sepnafski, Baylee Sepnafski, and Chase Kersten. Kayleen's children Kim & Chris Holschuh, Joseph & Kaarina Menting, Michelle & Dan Schmidt, and Melinda & Chris Lemke as well as their families. My in-laws Bob E. & Kathy Matzke, Jeff & Terry Matzke, Kirk & Lynn Matzke, Deb & Joel Butz with many nieces and nephews. You have been such a joy in my life. I love you all, continue to make me proud!

I am also survived by The mother of my children, Trudy Laedtke.

To my friends I leave behind from the Rough Riders, WPS choir, the car group, the woodworking barn, I am so grateful you were a part of my life.

I was preceded in death by my parents, my in-laws Robert & Leona Matzke and two months ago, my sister Kayleen. Remember that the obstacles in your path are not obstacles. They ARE the path. How ironic that we should share such a similar path.

I and Dianna could not have stayed at home without the support from our family and friends, THANK YOU. Thank you also to Unity Hospice

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss

My work here is ended. "That'll do".

Visitation celebrating Jack's life will be held on Saturday, April 2, from 9:30am until the time of his celebration of life service at 11:30am at Cotter Funeral Home's Denmark Location. Please note that if you are travelling from the North on I-43, the overpass at the Denmark exit is closed long-term. You will see signs for a detour using the Bellevue (Highway 141 towards Highway 29) exit directing you to go South on County Road R to access the funeral home.

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

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, April 2, 2022

9:30 - 11:30 am (Eastern time)

Cotter Funeral Home-Denmark Chapel

536 County Road R, Denmark, WI 54208

See detour information in the obituary text if traveling from the North (Green Bay) area

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


Saturday, April 2, 2022

11:30am - 12:30 pm (Eastern time)

Cotter Funeral Home-Denmark Chapel

536 County Road R, Denmark, WI 54208

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


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