Cover photo for Russell J. Schlies's Obituary
Russell J. Schlies Profile Photo
1942 Russell 2022

Russell J. Schlies

February 13, 1942 — December 22, 2022

Russell Jacob Schlies, 80, Denmark, passed away peacefully on Thursday, December 22, 2022, in Green Bay. Dad’s favorite holiday was Christmas, making this a bittersweet, yet perfect time for him to take a ride and head for home.


Our dad was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Friday, February 13, 1942 to Jacob and Emily (Mleziva) Schlies. In true farm fashion, he literally bloomed where he was planted and never lived more than 3.5 miles from his home farm.


He was forever proud of his Fontenoy/Denmark roots. He had great memories from attending Fontenoy Grade School (a one-room schoolhouse) with neighbors and Denmark High School. Following his graduation in 1960, he began working on the family farm and for a local can milk hauler. He also briefly worked at Charmin Paper in Green Bay but quickly found he was more of an outdoor worker. He loved being his own boss, which made both farming and milk hauling the perfect professions for him. He spent the rest of his life doing – and loving - both.


But his greatest love entered his life on Dec. 25, 1963 when he met Lucille (Lucy) Micolichek at a Christmas Night dance at Beverly Gardens . This Christmas, they are dancing together again on the 59th anniversary of that first meeting. He married Lucy at St. Cyril and Methodius Church in Eaton on May 29, 1965 and together, they carried on their families’ farming legacies by buying their own dairy farm in 1972.


Russell and Lucille spent their lives as a true team, both in raising four feisty children and growing their farm and small trucking business. His sons and their families continue their legacies today through ongoing operation of Old Settlers Dairy and R. Schlies Transfer. In 2008, Mom and Dad were humbled and honored to host the Brown County Breakfast on the Farm with their sons. Dad was proud to celebrate 50 years of living on the family farm in 1996 and 75 years of the farm being in the Schlies family in 2021.


Russell was best known – and will long be remembered – as The Milkman. He bought the local milk route he was working for in 1968 and remained a milk truck driver for 43 years, retiring in 2010 to help care for Mom. To this day he has an active CDL in his wallet, “just in case.”


Dad saw the industry transition from can to bulk transportation and bought his first bulk milk truck in 1974. He built his small business on red trucks (was it because they matched his favorite tractor color?) That changed when Mom joined him as a driver, and they eventually added some other colors to the fleet to spice things up. The last milk truck he drove was his favorite color – blue. He was a Ford man through and through, buying 14 Ford milk trucks and 9 Ford cars over the years.


As an independent contractor, he hauled milk to Steve’s Cheese, Benecke’s and Krohn’s Dairy. He had a customer base of 72 farmers when he retired. Through the years he drove millions of miles and hauled more pounds of milk than we can count. Many milk patrons also became friends, which Dad treasured.


Dad had an incredibly quick math mind and could add a series of numbers in his head without the use of pencil and paper or a calculator. This was quite useful in determining how many more farm stops he could fit onto his current load before needing to head to the factory to unload.


There are so many things Dad loved about being a milkman, including being his own boss, driving on country roads, listening to polka and country music on the truck’s AM radio, connecting with farm patrons and being among the first to collect and bring back news from his daily route. At a time when there were no cell phones, internet or cable TV in rural areas, he was a lifeline to the world for his patrons and family, carrying the news from farm to farm along his route and eventually to his family at home.


He also loved the fall harvest, especially chopping corn and plowing farm fields. His straight plow rows were truly a thing of beauty, admired by many and a skill his sons and grandsons have also perfected.


Through the years he made several promises to Mom, including that he would buy her a dishwasher, take her to Hawaii, buy her a new milk truck so that she didn’t have to drive a hand me down and build her a new house. He made good on all, plus many more.


Russell enjoyed some of life’s simplest pleasures, including socializing, sharing stories and laughing, Lucy’s great home cooking, drinking ice cold water from a copper mug, taking car rides and surveying crops, giving birthday spankings, eating metunky and really aged cheese, watching and reading the daily news, attending his grandchildren’s various activities and watching a good TV wester. He enjoyed a toothpick after a meal, driving his grandchildren home from school, ice cream, hearing about his grandchildren’s jobs, getting any update on farming from Jeremy, a good garage/shed party, reminiscing about the old days with his nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors and a cold beer.


Russell and Lucille enjoyed traveling with their friends, including trips to California, Las Vegas (where he bought Willie Nelson a shot and Willie bought him one back—true story!), several states “Out West,” Hawaii, Mexico, Florida, Alaska, and Poland. In 2006 they traveled to Europe and visited Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland, which included attending Oktoberfest in Germany. While there, he witnessed the return of the cows from summer pasture as they paraded through town in floral crowns. He also reported back that the freshly tapped beer in Germany is indeed quite good and fresh.


Dad was a member of All Saints Parish, the Catholic Order of Foresters Stangelville Court #1190, Catholic Financial Life Chapter 308 Eaton, BetterLife Lodge 108 (formerly Western Fraternal Life) and a lifetime member of the Denmark FFA Alumni.


Russell is survived by his four children, David (Julie Schultz), Denmark; Janet (Rich) Bonkowski, Green Bay; Susan (Keith) Obermiller, Green Bay; and Donnie (Wendy) Schlies, Denmark; 10 grandchildren, Jeremy Schlies; Joe (Sara), Mitchell (Courtney), Emily and Max Bonkowski; Miranda and Dominic Obermiller; and Jacob, Jeffery and Ryan Schlies; and two great grandchildren, Juliana and Isaac Bonkowski.


He is further survived by his brother-in-law Donald (Sandra) Micolichek, Green Bay; and sister-in-law

La Verne Micolichek, both of Green Bay and his godson, Rick Meyer, Stangelville. Additionally, he is survived by nine nieces and nephews, numerous Fontenoy neighbors and his CMart Coffee Club/BS Session Group.


He was preceeded in death by his wife of 47 years, Lucille; parents, stepfather Joseph Selner, his mother- and father-in-law, Marie and Antone Micolichek, two sisters and brothers-in-law, Pat (Clarence) Vanness and Mary Anne (Clayton) Meyer, brother-in-law Joseph Micolichek and godsons Jeff VanderKinter and Todd Micolchek.


Family and friends may call Tuesday, December 27, 2022, from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at -Cotter Funeral Home, 536 Cty R, Denmark, where there will be a Parish Prayer Service at 7:30 p.m. Visitation will continue on Wednesday, December 28 at All Saints Church, Denmark from 9:30 a.m. until 10:45 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. with the Very Rev. William O’Brien celebrating. Interment will follow in All Saints Cemetery.


A special thank you to Dr. Brad Wozney and Dr. Gerald Eckardt for the great attention to Dad’s needs over the last six months, the staff of Bellin Health, Oddfellows and Woodside for your compassion and dignified care, and family, friends and neighbors who visited and sent cards and prayers.




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

Service Schedule

Past Services

Prayer Service

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Starts at 7:30 pm (Eastern time)

Cotter Funeral Home-Denmark Chapel

536 County Road R, Denmark, WI 54208

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Visitation

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

9:30 - 10:45 am (Eastern time)

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Mass

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Burial

All Saints Cemetery

, Denmark, WI 54208

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