John Henry Knoch, age 71, of Westfield, entered eternal life on Sunday, October 3, 2021 peacefully at his home, after a courageous battle against cardiac amyloidosis. He was born on April 17, 1950 in Berwyn, IL to Henry John & Corinne Adell (Hilderbrandt) Knoch. From Chicago, the family moved to Coloma, WI. Henry & Corinne, with Corinne’s parents (Wally and Elizabeth Hilderbrandt), purchased and ran the resort on the north side of Pleasant Lake, while Wally played the piano. In 1952, Henry unexpectedly passed away. Corinne married Kenneth Fuhrmann and had 3 additional children, David, Gerald and Lorelee (Lamb). Corinne passed away in 1959. Ken raised the 4 children on a farm in Coloma. In 1968, Ken married Genevieve (Rygiewicz-Kusick) and her children joined John’s family, Tom (Grace) Kusick, Geraldine (Kusick) Freitag, Pat (Kusick) Beahm-Dencker and Dan (Joannie) Kusick.
John met his wife, Joanne (Krueger), in German class at Westfield High School in 1965. Then graduated from Westfield High School in 1968. He continued on to UW-Stevens Point where he graduated in 1972, with a BS in Physics and a minor in Mathematics. John and Joanne married on September 4, 1971.
John’s goal was to work for NASA; however, when funding for the space program was cut John and Joanne decided to buy the family farm from Joanne’s parents, Vincent and Elenora Krueger. John and Joanne raised many crops over the years as well as beef cattle. K-Farms farmed around 1200 acres and was most commonly known for hand-picked cucumbers, employing over 125 migrant workers, many farm hands and local teenagers over the years. John was active in the farming community and worked to balance the rights and responsibilities of farmers and migrant farm workers for the benefit of all. He served as President of the Wisconsin Hand Picked Cucumber Growers Association, Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association as a member, member of the board of directors, chairman of the vegetable committee. He worked with many state and national legislators including, Tommy Thompson, on the Governor's Council on Migrant Labor on both the state and national level. He served on the National Migrant Labor Council through Wisconsin Farm Bureau. He served on the board of the Wisconsin Agri-Business Council and community chairman for ASCS. He was very active with the state capitol on legislation that changed how Wisconsin farmers were able to keep their family farms going. He spent many years volunteering his time and talents for the sake of the Wisconsin farmer. John and Joanne were some of the first farmers to start using center irrigation pivots in 1978 and owned the first agricultural computer in Marquette County in 1979 in hopes to decrease cost and improve efficiency on the farm. In 1978, he was awarded 2nd Place for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Outstanding Young Farmer Award. In 2015, he was presented by the Marquette County Farm Bureau with the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, for his lifetime of service to the farmers.
John also served Marquette County, and especially the township of Newton (Westfield) in many ways. He served multiple terms on the Newton Town Board, Marquette County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, Marquette County Farm Bureau President 3 terms, MATC Fire Science Advisory Committee and Assistant Trainer, MATC Farm Training Advisory Committee and Assistant Trainer. John was a member of the Newton Volunteer Fire Department for 40+ years, with 22 of those years as Fire Chief. He was recognized for his lifetime of service to the Newton Fire Department in 2021.
Through all his volunteerism, he stated his most important work was for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was baptized Catholic in Chicago, IL and was confirmed as an adult at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Westfield, in 1971. He served on the Immanuel Lutheran Church Council, Evangelism Committee as Chairman, served as elder and Chairman of the Board of Elders, President of the Tri County West, Lutheran Laymen's League and Treasurer - Circuit Forum 15, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. He served as Sunday School and Confirmation teacher impacting the lives of hundreds of children and adults. John always said his priorities were, “God first, family second, and the farm and community third.”
John was blessed with many happy times in his life as well as multiple tragedies, along with trials and tribulations; however, he continued to share God’s message until his final days knowing that his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was always with him. With God’s love, John has been able to inspire countless individuals to volunteer and serve their communities and their Lord.
John was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Corrine; step-parents Ken and Genevieve; step-brother Tom; in-laws, Vincent and Elenora Krueger; and his son Joseph John.
John is survived by his wife of 50 years, Joanne; six children, Patrick (Joy) of Waunakee, Benjamin (Amanda Lynn) of Westfield, Tiffany (James) Houdek of Lodi, Nathaniel of Columbus, Joshua (Amanda Marie) of Westfield, Corrina (John) Mitchell of Baraboo; Eighteen Grandchildren: Alexander, Jackson, Jaden, Alec Rowdy, Joseph, Lucas, Michael, Vanessa, Matthew, Marcus, John Patrick, Marissa, Noah, Maya, Dylan, Daren, Henry John, and Oliver; Six siblings: David (Lynn) Fuhrmann of Milford, OH; Gerald (Nancy) Fuhrmann of Vesper, WI; Lorelee (Mark) Lamb of Wisconsin Rapids, WI; Dan (Joannie) Kusick of Cape Coral, FL; Geraldine Freitag of Montello; Pat Dencker; in addition to many cousins, nieces, nephews, family and friends.
A funeral service for John will be held on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Westfield with Rev. Rodney Armon and Rev. Robert Busse officiating. Burial will be in Westfield East Cemetery. A visitation will be held on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Steinhaus-Holly Funeral Home, Westfield and on Wednesday from 9:00 to 10:45 a.m. at the church.
A memorial in John’s name will be made to help continue to share God’s message. A scholarship has also been established in Westfield and Lodi to be awarded to a high school senior who demonstrates active involvement in service to their community and volunteerism. Memorials may be sent to: Steinhaus-Holly Funeral Home, in care of the family of John Knoch, PO Box 280, Westfield, WI 53964.
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