Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

James Butterbrodt

WYOCENA, Wis. - James "Coach" Butterbrodt died peacefully in Wyocena, on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023.

James was born on May 24, 1930, to Harold Butterbrodt and Verona Hammer in Beaver Dam. He attended Beaver Dam high school, lettering in football, basketball, track and golf. He avidly participated in scouting, achieving Eagle Scout. He played Division 1 football as a freshman at UW-Madison, then served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. He was a discus thrower on the UW La Crosse track team, setting a school record of 138'4" in 1957, where he completed a bachelor's degree in physical education. He later completed a master's degree in education attending night school at UW-Milwaukee.

James' life was dedicated to young people and community service. He taught physical education at Underwood Elementary and Longfellow Junior High schools in Wauwatosa, and worked summers as the waterfront director at YMCA Camp Manitowish in Boulder Junction. In 1966 he moved to Hurley, where he was the athletic director at J.E. Murphy High School, teaching physical education, initiating wrestling and coaching football and track, retiring in 1990. In the summer he provided Red Cross swimming lessons at the Gile Flowage.

Concurrent with his teaching career, James served as a volunteer firefighter and an alderman in Montreal. After retiring from teaching, he served as a chairman on the Iron County Board.

In retirement James was a licensed charter captain, taking YMCA groups on extended sailing trips on Lake Superior, typically around the Apostle Islands and Isle Royale. He enjoyed flying his twin engine plane and was an active member of the Experimental Aircraft Association. He provided "first flights" to 374 EAA Young Eagles members and was awarded a Major Achievement Award by the EAA in 1996.

James is survived by his brother, Tom; and sister-in-law, Liz; his sons, Paul, Tim and Jay; and respective daughters-in-law, Roseann, Lupe, Cheryl and Lisa (Karl); nephew, Dan; nieces, Jane and Kathy; and grandchildren Erich, Ava, Greta, Max, Ian and Emma. Pam Miller, daughter of Mary Margaret, and her son, Matthew, were regarded by James as family and were a source of much joy and comfort to him in his later years.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Mary Gennrich, who he married in 1955 and later divorced, in 2009; his companion, Mary Margaret Wohlwend, in 2013; and his son, Karl, in 2014 of ALS related to his service as a Navy flight officer.

James wished to be cremated and did not want a funeral. A gathering to celebrate James' life may be held in the future, to be determined.

Cornerstone Funeral & Cremation Services, 135 Keller Blvd., Beaver Dam, WI, is honored to be serving the family. You may send private online condolences or sign the family's guest book at

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