Leo Bronkalla, 92, of Baraboo
Leo Bronkalla, known to friends as “Bronk,” 92, of Baraboo, passed away Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, in hospice care at Oak Park Place in Baraboo.
Leo will be remembered forever by his loving wife of 61 years, Joyce, and his children, Mark (Teal) Bronkalla of Waukesha, Mary (Don) Henry of Viroqua, and Kathy Bronkalla of Dallas, Texas.
Leo was born May 30, 1926, in Milwaukee, Ward 11, to Leo and Lucille (Wairer) Bronkalla. As a youth he enjoyed all sports and excelled in swimming, football, basketball and baseball. His family moved to East Troy, in his teenage years and he enjoyed many wonderful years at Camp Charles Ellis on Lake Beulah. It was during those summer years at camp that instilled the love of the outdoors.
Leo served at the end of World War II in the United States Navy on the ship USS Vincennes (CL-64) and was stationed in the Pacific.
Upon returning from the war, some of his buddies were going to use their veteran’s benefits to go to college. Leo decided he would go too and could play football. Leo stated that is how much time he put into going to college. He attended and graduated from Whitewater College with a degree in teaching political science. His first teaching assignment was in Albany. He stayed in Albany for a year and wanted to advance his career. The following year he took a position in the Jefferson School District and then Marshfield School District teaching political science courses and coaching in all positions. It was during his teaching position at Marshfield that his buddy Bob Welch matched Leo up with Joyce Menucci at a teacher’s party after the school basketball game. Joyce was the school librarian in the East Troy School District, his hometown. Leo and Joyce married in 1957 and left right after their wedding and headed to Boulder, Colorado. Leo attended four summer sessions and earned his masters of school administration at University of Colorado-Boulder. With his new license in hand, he accepted his first position of superintendent of schools in Reeseville, and then on to Wrightstown. During his time in Wrightstown, the state of Wisconsin mandated that all schools needed to form school districts. He was recruited from a nearby village to start Little Chute’s first Public School District.
Leo had the unique opportunity at Little Chute to build the village’s first public high school. It was like building a major business in less than one year. Little Chute hired a secretary for him and he began recruiting and hiring teachers, designing a school and curriculum. It was one of his many accomplishments as an educational leader. He continued to advance in his career and accepted the position as superintendent of schools in Baraboo in 1971-1985. During his time in Baraboo he was particularly proud of enhancing the school’s vocational training in building trades which lead to the classes building more than a dozen homes in Baraboo and many trade businesses in construction, plumbing and electrical. Leo served three years at the Department of Public Instruction where he evaluated school districts and worked on the vocational programming in the state.
Leo was an avid storyteller and outdoorsman. He was the rare individual who achieved a couple of holes in one in his lifetime. His greatest thrill of a lifetime was with his good buddy Glen Quale. Leo shot a 350-yard hole in one, on a par 4 hole at the Baraboo Country Club. He was a particularly skilled woodcarver creating many life-like birds. One of his specialties was creating very unique crucifixes which were given to many friends and family, especially for those who were ill. Leo found great joy in creating the crucifixes and sharing his Christian belief. Leo requested that anyone who may have one of his crucifixes to bring it to his service and share your story with the family if you are able to attend.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Leo and Lucille Bronkalla; in-laws, Alfred (Ducky) and Anne Menucci; and his beloved son, Greg Bronkalla; brother, Jerome (Pat) Bronkalla, sisters, Audrey (Paul) Anich, Lorraine Bronkalla; sister-in-law Betty (Dom) Carollo; nephew, Nicky Carollo.
Leo is survived by his grandchildren, Jessie (Chris) Lamberty, Elyse (Paul) Hahn, David (Kelly) Bronkalla, Adelynn Dresher, Michaella (Zach) Dresher, Taylor Henry and Elizabeth Henry; great-grandchildren, Isla Lamberty, Sawyer and Hadley Hahn and Olivia Bronkalla.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Baraboo, with Father Jay Poster and Father Ken Anich co-officiating. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. until the time of Mass at the church. Burial will follow at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. Military rites will be conducted at the cemetery.
The family request you join them for a luncheon that will follow to enjoy fellowship in the Martha and Mary Hall in the church basement. The Redlin Funeral Home is assisting the family.