John Wildhagen dies at 77 12/13:
John H. "Jeep" Wildhagen Sr. died of a heart attack on 9 Dec. at St. Mary's
Hospital Ozaukee in Mequon, Wis., He was 77, according to an article by
Eldon Knoche in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on 12 Dec.
Wildhagen was born in Hamburg, Germany, on 1 Nov., 1920. He emigrated to
the United States with his mother when he was 3 and they settled in
Milwaukee where she cleaned houses and operated a rooming house. A
16-year-old student at Marquette University High School in the city when
his mother died, Wildhagen moved to Port Washington, Wis., to live with a
relative and finish school.
At first, he worked as a commercial fisherman from Port Washington and sold
most of his catch to Smith Bros., later hauling his catch and gear in the
family's pink 1958 Cadillac. He worked aboard tugs, painted barns and ran a
taxi service in the 1940s, in one case destroying a transmission while
winning a bet he could not drive backwards from Saukville, Wis., to Port
Washington. He also hired children to sell products door-to-door in Chicago
and Milwaukee that were manufactured by local disabled residents and was
known to ring doorbells at midnight selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners with
the announcement that if he didn't sell his stock, he'd be fired.
Wildhagen also sold used cars in Milwaukee and sold one lot and all its
cars for U.S.$1.
Later, he operated a used appliance store near Teutonia and W. North Ave.
in Milwaukee and operated a scrap business in Bay View, Wis., as Wrecker
John. He also owned a semi-trailer and loaded whatever cargo he could.
On the water, Wildhagen towed boats out the St. Lawrence Seaway and in the
1960s, was hired by Erwin Uihlein, president of Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co.,
to be the master of his yacht, the Elena. Wildhagen will be buried 13 Dec.
in the captain's uniform Uihlein bought for him.
Wildhagen was also one of the organizers of Port Washington's Fish Day,
which now brings tens of thousands of visitors annually with music, arts
and crafts, displays, food, a carnival, fireworks and a parade. Wildhagen
was grand marshal in 1994.
In the 1960s, he wrote "Seagull's Lookout," a column in the weekly Ozaukee
Press known for factured spelling and political commentary.
In 1980, Wildhagen stopped fishing to operate Port Recycling, a scrap
business owned by one of his sons, Mark. He retired a few months ago.
Wildhagen's wife, Mary, died in 1993. He is survived by sons John Jr. and
Mark of Port Washington and Walter of Anaheim, Calif.
Reported by: Steve Schultz
From the weekly electronic publication "The World Maritime News"