Joel Leo Klinge, age 61, of Hillsboro, Wisconsin, passed away on Saturday, September 5, 2020 at the Serenity House in Tomah after a long battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis.
He was born on August 24, 1959 to Leo and Lorene (Voigts) Klinge in Platteville. Joel learned his great work ethic growing up on the family farm. He attended Belmont High School, where he was a member of the FFA, participated in Cross Country, and graduated in 1977. Joel later attended Southwest Tech - Fennimore for Meat Cutting with Ken Bisarek as his instructor, who became his first employer, and a father figure to him.
Joel started his career as a Butcher, working for Ken at Pine Valley Meats in Norwalk where he met Jean Ann Flaig. Jean and Joel married on February 1, 1980. Joel then followed Ken to Bloomington Meats in Bloomington, WI, where he and Jean proudly built their first home where they welcomed two daughters: Joni, born 1981 and Jeri in 1984. Joel and Jean opened Gillingham Meats in 1986 which they ran together throughout their marriage. Their first year of business they earned several awards for Champion and Grand Champion Hams, this was the first time any single business had won all the awards in the same year in a very long time. Joel was well known throughout the butchering community, having several newspaper articles written regarding his expertise. Joel and Jean divorced in September 1991 and closed Gillingham Meats. Joel then continued work as a butcher for several meat lockers, starting with Straka Meats in Plain, then Belmont Fresh Meats, and ending at Hart & Vold Meat Market in Baraboo, where he retired due to his health in September of 2016 after a hard-working 37-year career.
Joel was a very social person and made friends everywhere he went. If you were lucky enough to have met him, it was not uncommon to have a beer show up in front of you, compliments of Joel at the end of the bar with his beer raised and a smile on his face followed by joyful cheers. His laugh was contagious, triggered by his “often” inappropriate jokes or smart comments; you couldn’t help but smile being around him. Joel enjoyed his hobbies such as hunting, horseback riding, bowling, and trap shooting. He loved his family, especially traveling to visit his sisters. Joel cherished his time with his grandchildren, whom he gave each a special nickname. He was a loving father, brother, and friend; he would give the shirt off his back for anyone in need. Although we are sad to see him leave, we all know he is smiling down on us and will have a cold one waiting when we meet again.
Joel is survived by his daughters: Joni (Perry) Klinge-West of Elroy and Jeri (Rich) Brey of Hillsboro; grandchildren, Richard “Cody”, Kara “Floyd”, Jenna “Fred/George”, Riley “Pete”, Perry “Mabel”, Lexi “Emil”, and Hadleigh “Gus”; great-granddaughter, Aurora; mother, Lorene Klinge of Platteville; siblings, Joyce Stephens of Sparks, Nevada, Linda (Jim) Digmann of Gig Harbor, Washington, and Lori (Dirk) LaVoy of Kettering, Ohio; many nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles; special daughter, Mindy Dumke; special father, Ken Bisarek and special friends, Melissa Mortimer, Jennifer Clark, Rob, Beef, Guts, Big Dan, Royce, Jonas, and Long Hair. Joel was preceded in death by his father, Leo Klinge, of Belmont, his former father-in-law, Stan Flaig, and former mother-in-law, Barbara Flaig, both of Ontario.
A Celebration of Joel’s Life will take place on Saturday, October 3, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. at 33487 State Hwy. 71, Elroy, WI.. The family would enjoy a gathering of many friends and family to truly support the man that he was. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the family. The Picha Funeral Home in Hillsboro is assisting.