Joe “Cookie” W. Schaefer, 76, passed away on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 at Marshfield Medical Center.
“Cookie” is now at peace after a brief, brutal battle with cancer.
He was born on October 10, 1945 to Leroy and Margaret (Hotmar) Schaefer in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Early on, he discovered his love of farm work and stockcars.
While recovering from injuries sustained in a car/motorcycle accident, he met Jimmy Back and started seriously working on stockcars. Working around the central Wisconsin racing teams, he found many lifelong friends and extended family members. He proudly called Jimmy and Cyrilla his second parents and referred to himself as their tenth son. He was proud to be a charter member of the Dale Earnhardt fan club and followed faithfully until Dale’s death.
He met his wife Mary Lee at State Park Speedway in Wausau, and they were married on February 19th, 1972 sharing 50 years together. They enjoyed racing and followed the local racing circuit until work scheduled interfered.
Joe loved to drive – any type of vehicle. He worked for many years for local trucking companies – working on local construction projects, heavy highway work and whatever the job required. And wherever the work required.
Along the way, they were introduced to the sport of ice hockey and the rest is history. Introduced by Cheryll West, it didn’t take long to become hooked. When UWSP athletics started their program, Joe and Mary moved to center ice and have been there thru thick and thin. He would watch the team practice during his off time in the winter and one day Mary Lee sent him down with freshly made chocolate chip cookies and that started a tradition that continues today. Known as “Cookie man”, he and Mary Lee enjoyed treating the players as their “sons” having them for dinner and treating them to cookies every Thursday during the season. The annual team dinner was a treasured event. Joe and Mary Lee were joined by the late Dan and Kathy Goulet in hosting the dinner at the Goulet home. After the move to Junction City, they were joined by Barb and Jim DeWeerd as hosts. Lots of food, fun and laughter every year. Players do you know where your shoes are??
Following the team EVERYWHERE led to adventures in Canada, upstate New York, Maine, Minnesota just to mention a few.
After moving to Junction City officially in 2010, he found his calling – working with Brian and Jodie Otto on their dairy farm in Milladore. He loved the field work – whatever Brian needed him to do and whenever he needed it done.
Joe and Mary Lee’s large open field became the Pumpkin Patch for the Kennedy Elementary students. With his help, the students plant the pumpkins in the spring (sometimes getting muddy) and harvest them in fall.
Joe was a member of the Junction City Lions and the Elks Lodge in Wausau.
He is survived by his wife Mary Lee (Foss), her sisters Susan Foss in Wausau and Carol Schaetzl (David) and their son Adam in Weston. He is also survived by his brothers, John (Mary Lynn), David and Paul (Cyndy) all of Waterloo, Wisconsin.
He was preceded in death by his parents Leroy and Margaret, his in-laws Donald and Gertrude (Peters) Foss, sister- and brother-in-law Donna and David Johnson; sister-in-law Florence Schaefer.
Funeral services will be held at 1:00 pm on Thursday, May 19, 2022 at Martens/Rembs Funeral Home in Junction City where visitation will be from 11:00 am until service time. Entombment will take place at Restlawn Memorial Park Mausoleum in Wausau at a later date.
A Celebration of Life will be planned for early fall.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the American Cancer Society, the UWSP foundation, or a charity of your choice.
Condolences may be sent online at www.rembsfh.com
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