Joseph W. Fish, age 73, passed away on May 7, 2022, at home surrounded by his family. Joe was born July 13, 1948, the fourth of ten children to Clifton and Catherine (Horkan) Fish. He spent his younger years on the family farm outside of Rock Springs. The memories made on the farm solidified the unbreakable bond with his siblings and the importance of family.
He graduated from Webb High School in 1966. In 1969, he met the Mary to his Joseph; the Fry to his Fish. On August 1, 1970, Joe and Mary were united in marriage at St. Patrick’s in Loreto Ridge. This union was blessed with three daughters. Thus began the many years that the redheaded women in his life outnumbered Joe. After graduating high school in 1966, he began his career at Hankscraft in the ac/dc motor lab. He later moved to New York City, continued working in the lab, and eventually moved into the sales and marketing department. Upon returning home and getting married, Joe and Mary moved to Chicago, and he opened a Hankscraft office in Park Ridge. After a few years, he followed his good friend, Hank Brenner, and took a sales executive position with Rapid Mounting and Finishing. When the city life became overrated, Joe and Mary moved back home. They purchased the Coach House in Rock Springs in 1977 and ran the supper club for five years. It was here where he met many lifelong friends. One of those friends, Bill Pierce, asked him to be the manager for the Viking Bowl he was opening in Reedsburg. He worked there for several years before returning to Hankscraft. He was instrumental in the company's growth, and in 1996 he became part-owner of the company. He traveled extensively, calling on customers who took him all over the United States and to Holland, England, Mexico, China, and Australia.
If you went into a store in the 1980s to 2000s and saw displays featuring dancing beer cans, tail-wagging dogs, car doors that open, Christmas trees that illuminate, clocks that count down, and sound and LED-lit displays, he had a hand in it. His expertise in using motion displays earned hundreds of POPAI (Point of Purchase Advertising International) Outstanding Merchandising Achievement Awards. In 2006, after more than 40 years in the advertising industry, he retired from Hankscraft. He was inducted into the POPAI Hall of Fame in 2010.
Throughout his life, he believed in being very involved in the community. Over the many years, he was involved with Jaycees, Knights of Columbus, Lion’s Club, Reedsburg Wrestling Club, Reedsburg Athletic Club, Reedsburg Area Medical Center Foundation Board Member and President, Excelsior Township Board Member and President, Sauk County Board of Supervisors, Relay for Life, Fish Family Fight Against Cancer, POPAI Committees and Board Member, Sacred Heart Fall Festival Softball Tournament, Rock Spring Fire Department, Rock Springs Ball Park, Cruzin For a Cure, and the 2003 Sauk County Irishman of the Year. He was also the founding member of Gup’s Gang. This competitive and fun group of softball players could beat you on the field and then win the beer-drinking trophy. He also purchased the famous Gup’s Gang bus to travel across state lines into Iowa to play. Here, the bat races were born and made their way back to our community.
Joe had the ability to name any person and any car’s make and model. He remembered everyone he met and was the family’s personal historian. Joe had a passion for cars, fishing, his Irish heritage, a love of sweets, and enjoyed his Sunday rides with Buzz and Carol. He had the ability to make an entire room hang on his every word while waiting for him to drop a one-liner or finish one of his famous jokes. He was one of a kind, and the world lost a great husband, father, papa, brother, uncle, and friend to everyone. We hope he sped off in a corvette, top-down, and is off to tinker on some new invention. We can hear him driving away….”If I don’t see you in the future, I’ll see you in the pasture. Whatever!”
He is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Mary (Fry); daughters, Becky Vertein, Jenny, and Heather (Lisa Zelt); his greatest joy, his grandchildren, Lexi, Cole, Walter, and Mae, all of Reedsburg; brothers and sisters, Richard (Barb) Fish of LaValle, Sharon (Tom) Resch of Cody, WY, Monica (Ted) Atkinson of West Allis, Zita (Eric Altes) of Tacoma, WA, Don (Corinne) Fish of Reedsburg, Denise (Mike) Yontz of Waunakee; his brother-in-law, Jeff Kelly, 20 nieces, and 12 nephews; 31 great-nieces and nephews; Mary’s siblings and their spouses; a host of cousins, other relatives, and an infinite number of friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Clif and Catherine Fish; brothers Jerome Fish and Paul Fish; sister, Fran (Fish) Kelly; sister-in-law, Gloria (Cricket) Eller; niece Angela Weiss; and his mother and father-in-law, Everett and Catharine (Jeanne) Fry.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, May 14, 2022, at 11:00 AM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Reedsburg, with Father Pat Wendler officiating. Family and friends are invited for a visitation on Friday, May 13, 2022, from 4:00-8:00 PM at Farber Funeral Home Reedsburg, and on Saturday from 10:00 AM until the time of service at the church. Please join us immediately following the service for lunch and a sharing of memories at the Reedsburg Country Club. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the family to be distributed locally to continue Joe’s giving spirit. To honor Joe's love of classic cars, feel free to dust off and shine up your old cars and arrive in style.
To send flowers to Joseph's family, please visit our floral store.