February 9, 2024 – West Bend, Wi – A Celebration of Life at Holy Angels Church on Eighth Avenue in West Bend, WI as firefighters, friends and neighbors remember former West Bend Fire Chief Ray Roskopf. The 83-year-old was given a final salute during a firefighter walk through on Thursday night.
Roskopf passed away peacefully Saturday, February 3, 2024, with his family at his side. Ray was born February 18, 1940 to John and Anna Roskopf in Goldendale.
He graduated from St. Boniface Grade School and West Bend High School.
He married Diane (Dee Dee) Koenings in Barton on February 7, 1959, and after a few years living in Goldendale, they moved to West Bend in 1961 and raised their family.
Ray began working at Gehl Company and while there developed a passion for community service.
Ray had many hobbies and activities he was involved in over the years throughout his life. When he was younger, he played softball many times a week and nearly every weekend in tournaments. He also enjoyed playing in basketball, volleyball and pool leagues.
Ray was eager to be in the presence of the people he loved. Whether traveling around the U.S. to visit family and friends or driving throughout the state to celebrate with his grandchildren and great grandchildren, you would often find him capturing these special moments behind his camera lens to cherish forever.
The firefighting community and neighbors in West Bend, WI are offering up prayers as word spreads about the passing of former West Bend Fire Chief Ray Roskopf.
Andy Gonring was president of the Police & Fire Commission when Roskopf was hired. “Awesome guy,” said Gonring. “Great asset to the community.”
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Roskopf rose through the ranks at the West Bend Fire Department. He was promoted from motor pump operator to battalion chief and then fire chief on September 18, 1995, following the retirement of Chief Brian Mayer on July 31, 1995.
Roskopf retired March 17, 1999, and was replaced by then Battalion Chief Gerald Kudek, until a full-time chief was named.
Kudek, who retired in 2023, said Roskopf was gold standard for the department. “Just a super guy and a great boss. He was soft spoken but cared about everybody,” he said.
Betty Pearson was a close friend of Roskopf. Pearson led the West Bend Chamber as executive director from 1986-2001 and recalled a CPR project she did in partnership with Roskopf and the Rotary.
“I wanted everyone in Rotary to learn CPR and of course Ray helped me,” said Pearson. “People trained all of their members and I think we had close to 90 people at that time. But everybody became certified because of Ray and all his help. He just quietly did it, like he did everything. He was just quiet and wonderful.”
Nancy and Jerry Mehring were distraught upon hearing the news. “We always saw him in church daily,” said Nancy. “I so admired that of him.”
“He always sat in the same pew on the right side up front at Holy Angels,” said Jerry.
The Mehrings’ sold their condo on Hidden Waters to Ray’s daughter and her husband. “We chit chatted about that with him once in a while,” said Nancy. “He was such a good guy.”
Jerry also recalled his brother Jim Mehring was a fire chief in Brookfield and worked as chief at the “same time as Ray.”
Barb Justman, owner of BJ & Company, worked alongside Roskopf as well as part of the Noon Rotary. “He took care of the money for our Rotary Seafood Fest. He was on the ball; just a nice guy,” said Justman.
Mike Miller also served with Roskopf on Noon Rotary. “He was chief while I was mayor,” said Miller. “I really enjoyed working with Ray. He was very dedicated to the city and supportive of his people.”
Robby Robrahn was longtime friends with Roskopf and his family. “Golfed with him all the time and with the league through Park Avenue Pub,” he said. “Just a great guy, great firefighter and a dedicated chief.”
Roskopf was very active with the Noon Rotary. Following retirement, he carried the passion of a firefighter into his servant life, helping donate a defibrillator to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
Roskopf also attended meetings during retirement when St. Joseph’s Hospital was exploring moving out of the community and to Hwy 45 and Pleasant Valley Road. Roskopf was concerned about how the move out of town would affect ambulance transport time.
Funeral arrangements for Ray Roskopf will be posted when information becomes available.