Richard Mitchell Greunke, age 97, of Milladore, died peacefully on December 26, 2020. A private graveside service for family will be held at a later date at Brooklawn Memory Gardens Cemetery.
Richard was born June 29, 1923, to Richard H. and Anna (Wepner) Greunke in Auburndale, WI. He grew up in Auburndale helping with his family’s cheese business. He graduated from Auburndale High School in 1941. He was married to Ardis Freeck in Medford, WI on November 13, 1948. They enjoyed nearly 65 years of marriage together, and he was reunited with Ardis in heaven!
After Richard graduated from high school, he worked with his brothers, Ceylon and Delbert, at the family’s Brookside Cheese Factory. Richard decided to leave the family business, and he bought the farm next door to the factory to start a mink ranch. After several years, the demand for mink pelts decreased and he was forced to sell the remaining mink. He then worked at Worzella’s Store in Auburndale as a meat cutter for several years. Richard then decided to buy the Maple Grove Cheese Factory from his brother, Ceylon, and he became a cheesemaker for the rest of his life. At retirement, he sold the cheese factory to his son, Alan, who continues to operate Maple Grove Cheese today.
Richard was an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Auburndale for his entire life. He served on many boards and committees in the church. He donated milk and cheese for the church’s annual potato pancake meal, and he was always willing to help with anything the church needed.
Richard was a school board member for Sunshine School (a one-room school located about a mile from the Brookside Cheese Factory). Later he served on the school board for the Auburndale School District. Richard played high school basketball and was always a big fan of his children and grandchildren who played basketball. He was also a big Packer fan and made sure he watched all of the games. As a younger man, he went fishing in Canada with the Auburndale High School FFA.
Richard had a few oddities in his life. He loved eating Limburger cheese, fried pig brains, pickled tongue, and many German dishes that his mother used to make. In his early years, Richard was a devoted hunter. He always joined the family deer hunt; he liked hunting ducks, geese, rabbits, squirrels, and pheasants. The family also had many dogs to aid in Richard’s hunting efforts.
Richard was a very good cook, and he also had an exceptionally sweet tooth! One of his favorites was to only take a half piece of dessert, but then to come back for two or three more half pieces. He enjoyed having a cocktail every once in awhile, and he mixed a terrific brandy old-fashioned!
In his later years, Richard became a kind and outstanding caregiver. His father had a stroke after he retired, and Richard helped care for his dad and mother for many years. Given that he operated a cheese factory, he was always able to send cheese, cream, and butter to his parents, brothers, and sisters. Richard’s siblings and their families visited the factory and enjoyed playing continuous rounds of Sheep’s Head. The factory was a gathering place for many aunts, uncles, cousins, children, and grandchildren. Richard, along with some of his brothers, were really good story tellers. Many of his children and grandchildren remember quite a few stories and jokes that he repeated often (like the dog that ran out of gas!).
Richard was very devoted to the cheese factory. He would get up quite early, like 3 or 4 a.m. every morning, to begin the cheesemaking process before the other workers arrived; he continued to do this well into his 80s. As his children grew older, everyone in the family participated in the cheese business. All the children were required to work before and after school to support the family business. Richard taught all of his children many valuable lessons about responsibility, commitment, hard work, and running a business.
Richard was a kind, generous, hardworking man; a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather; and also a sweet man.
In the last few years of his life, after Ardis left him and went to heaven, Richard lived at Stoney River Assisted Living in Marshfield. He was a bright spot in the lives of many residents and staff there. Everyone loved to hear his stories and jokes! He cared deeply about them, just as he did his own family.
Richard is lovingly survived by his children: David Greunke, Steve (Cindy) Greunke, Mitch (Carolyn) Greunke, Rosanne Greunke, Scott Greunke, Alan (Joan) Greunke, Sandy (Doug) Keuntjes, Kathy Greunke, and Sara (Gary) Moses; his grandchildren: Shawna Greunke, Megan Greunke, Joshua Greunke, Brittany (Dan) Ritter, Kristin Greunke, Jacob Greunke, Jessica (Ryan) Schulfer, Bradley Greunke, Holly (Caleb) Denecour, Kyle Greunke, Jordyne Greunke, Brett Greunke, David (Rochelle) Greunke, Heidi Keuntjes, Michael Keuntjes, Emily Moses, and Claire Moses; his great-grandchildren: Austin, Logan, and Jacey Schulfer; Matthew, Lucas, and Anna Ritter; Alana and Alexis Greunke; Lyle Denecour; and Amelia Keuntjes. He is further survived by his brother, Orville Greunke. He will be truly missed.
Richard was preceded in death by his wife, Ardis (Freeck) Greunke; parents: Richard H. and Anna Greunke; sisters: Ella, Alma, Erma, Estelle, Helen, Viola; and brothers: Leonard, Armin, Ceylon, and Delbert.
Online condolences may be made at www.hansenschillingfuneralhome.com for your convenience. In lieu of flowers, donations/memorials may be sent to St. John’s Lutheran Church, 10571 George Ave, Auburndale, WI 54412.
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