April 4, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Joseph J. Ecker, 88, of West Bend passed away on April 2, 2017 peacefully at his home with his family by his side. He was born on July 25, 1928 in Brillion, Wisconsin to the late Joseph and Elizabeth (Steinmetz) Ecker.
After graduating Valedictorian from Brillion High School, he also graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a BBA degree in Marketing and Merchandising. He began his career in 1950 as Advertising and Sales Promotion Manager for the Brillion Iron Works. Shortly after starting at the Brillion Iron Works, Joe married his beloved wife Shirley Ann Wenzel of Brillion, Wisconsin, on January 15, 1955. They shared 62 years of wedded bliss as soul mates forever.
In 1958 he joined the Gehl Company as Advertising Manager and in 1964 he was promoted to Vice President and Sales Manager. In 1971 he was named Vice President of Marketing, a position he held until his retirement in 1992.
During the 34-year career with the Gehl Company, he became a pioneer in agricultural marketing. His involvement with agricultural associations reflected his commitment to that industry. He was a charter member of the Natural Agri-Marketing association and received that association’s Robert S. Kunkel award for excellence in marketing as the 1980 National Agri-Marketing Man of the Year. His long time career was punctuated at Gehl Company, by taking on the presidential role of International and managing director of Gehl’s, GMBH.
After his retirement from a full time career, he did some marketing consulting for several companies.
Joseph was very active in several civic organizations in the West Bend area including the West Bend Rotary Club. He was also a past President of the Wend Bend Jaycees and a charter member and Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce as well as Toastmasters.
Always interested in music, Joe was a original member and former board director of the River City Irregulars Community Band and a member of the River City Blaskapelle German Band. Besides these activities, he was a long time director of the Cedar Community Foundation Board. He was also a former director of the Washington county Volunteer Center, and a member of the Board of Directors of the West Bend Mutual Insurance Company for 27 years.
Joseph is survived by his beloved wife, Shirley Ann Ecker, three children, Mark (Jill) Ecker, Vicki (Greg) Jezak, and Chris (Cameron) Hendrick; 6 grandchildren, R. Joseph Richardson, Nicole (Chris) Rosenberg, Kimberly (Andrew) Ecker, Christine (Brian) Sullivan, Cameron (Emily) Hendrick, and Taylor (Scott) Papez.
He is preceded in death by his siblings, Robert Ecker, Frank Ecker, Elizabeth Austern, and 4 month old infant brother, William Ecker.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017 at St Frances Cabrini (1025 S. 7 Ave. West Bend, WI 53095) with Father Justin Lopina presiding. Visitation will be at church from 3 p.m. until the time of Mass. Entombment will be 11 a.m. Saturday, April 8, 2017.
Please consider a memorial contribution to the American Cancer Society and to St Frances Cabrini Parish of West Bend Wisconsin.
We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staffs of Horizon Home Care and Hospice and Right at Home in home care services for their loving and compassionate support. Special thanks to the Kramer Cancer Center in West Bend Wisconsin.