The great and amazing Ronald R. Eisenmann, 84, of Sturgeon Bay stepped away from his physical life on Dec. 12, 2022. We expect that he is still scratching his head over how this could have happened so swiftly, because he had a long to-do list and an incredible zest for life. A finer gentleman, you could never meet. He was a legend to his family.
Ron passed away peacefully a few days after his family had gathered to say goodbye as a sudden and aggressive cancer took him away. We all simply expected him to live to 104. Ron was an admired man. He was born February 27, 1938, in Milwaukee to Raymond and Florence (Spangenberg) Eisenmann. Ron spent his formative years in southeast Wisconsin and upon retirement from the US Navy moved to Northeast Wisconsin and settled very comfortably in Door County, Wisconsin.
Preceded in death by his wife of nearly 50 years Janet Kay (Kurth) Eisenmann, parents Raymond and Florence, and sister Carol (Ron) Dornacker.
He is survived by 4 children, Carin Eisenmann, Bill (Sandra) Eisenmann, John (Julia) Eisenmann, Wendy (Rob) Winters; and his first wife Judith Wightman. Ron was a grandfather to 7 grandchildren, Jason Goldman, Joshua Goldman, Jon Eisenmann, Jesse Eisenmann, Nathan Winters, Lukas Winters, Elise Foley; 5 great-grandchildren and nieces, Kim and Tracy Dornacker.
As a young man, Ron was a curious and motivated car enthusiast and had an amazing ability to build or repair anything of a mechanical nature. Ron left his home in Milwaukee after leaving school before graduation. He had dreamed about submarines and enlisted to serve his country in the US Navy as a submariner in the silent service. During the Cold war, MMCS (SS) R.R. Eisenmann was aboard many technologically advanced submarines. He witnessed the change from naval diesel power into the nuclear age.
Before the age of 20, Ron was aboard the world’s first nuclear operated submarine, USS Nautilus 571 as a machinist mate. In 1958, when the cold war was raging and the race for space was on, Ron was part of an incredible top-secret voyage beneath the polar ice cap. His team of sailors “operated” the world’s first nuclear submarine silently from the Pacific Ocean at Point Barrow Alaska, 500 feet under the surface, for 1000 miles under the Arctic ice cap to Greenland in the Atlantic Ocean in history’s first trans-polar underwater mission. This effort tipped American sea dominance against the Russians. It helped shape him and his character.
As the cold war ran on, and the Cuban missile crisis exploded, Ron was somewhere under the surface around Key West escorting nuclear missiles around the depths of the ocean. He was crew aboard almost a dozen submarines during his Naval career. Ron Eisenmann was a man with nerves of steel, and we salute him. He retired from military service after 20 years as a nuke “consultant” with the US Navy in 1975.
Ron then moved his family (Jan, Carin, Bill, John and Wendy) to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and began working in management at Bay Shipbuilding Corp until he again retired in 1983. He formed Peninsula Fiberglass as his business and enjoyed casual boat repair for friends and acquaintances, while he enjoyed his time with wife Jan, traveling, going to flee markets, collecting antiques and seeing the country. Ron also spent many road trips with his very best and longtime friend Darrel Lautenbach. These two were the original American pickers. Nothing gave Ron a smile faster than finding treasure in a barn, in a field, or at a garage sale, especially if he beat Darrel to it. He knew every road in Wisconsin and was a specialist at making a 4-hour ride take a full day with side roads, coffee stops and visits with friendly strangers.
Ron served his community of Nasawaupee on the Southern Door Volunteer Fire Department for over 40 years as well. He co-founded S.D.F.D. in 1980 and served as a Captain, Assistant Chief, Safety Officer, and Firefighter over his four decades on call. Ron was always happy to be the one to organize a car show fundraiser for the fire department and was a “Helluva burger cook” when the lines at the fundraisers got long.
Ron was an “easy to like” man who moved through his life slowly and thoughtfully. He was mostly a husband to Jan. He treasured her. They were a great team and loved the banter between themselves. Ron was a husband, father, a military man, a firefighter, an artist, a wanderer, collector and businessman. He had an eye for art, beauty and “shiny objects”. His curiosity made us all smile and kept us young. We will miss him and honor him with incredible admiration. We feel sure that Mom & Dad got their happy hour back again.
Our family would like to thank the beautiful staff at Cherry Meadows Hospice care in Appleton. You had grace, you gave dad dignity, and you made our family comfortable as we faced his passing. God bless you; you are heaven sent.
A celebration of life will be announced for this summer, perhaps mid-June when the weather is nice. In honor of Ron, and in lieu of any gifts, donations or flowers, take some time to genuinely thank a veteran. Buy them a cup of coffee & share some kindness. Dad never wanted to make a big scene. Forbes Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Rest accomplished, sir, you are forever loved.