Chester (Chet) William Schanhofer, age 79, Sparta, WI, passed away on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at his second home in St. Petersburg, FL surrounded by his family. Chet was born in Sparta, WI on July 7, 1942, he was the oldest son of the late Donald Schanhofer and Veronica Brueggeman. He was also preceded in death by wife, Janet (Tucker) Schanhofer.
Chet was most proud of the legacy he and his late wife, Janet created over their 53 years of marriage; as high school sweethearts, they married when he was 18 and raised three children. Initially, Chet provided for his family by hauling milk with his life-long friend, Gene Ostrem from 1963-1968; however, Chet was not destined to be the “milk-man.” In 1968, Chet changed career paths and started working with Severson and Sprain (S&S) Distributing, whose trade including the selling and distributing of Budweiser products. It was in this profession that Chet found his passion as the “beer man”, purchasing S&S from Herbert Severson in 1976. Excellent socializing skills and a great business acumen, helped Chet and Janet grow S&S Distributing, to include a second distributor in Marshfield, WI, and its Anheuser Busch product portfolio, a household name.
Once the beer business ran like a well-oiled machine, Chet needed another challenge. Having been raised on a farm, he decided farming would be his next big adventure in life. If you knew Chet, his motto was “go big” or “go home” and this suited his approach to farming. What began as a small, hobby farm would eventually expand into a much larger operation benefitting area farmers and business owners within the local farming community. Chet would rent cropland from area farmers and would lend his equipment or his time to assist with planting and harvesting around the county. He loved his farm equipment and was a big supporter of “Team Red” (International Harvester) machinery. While most farmers will experience equipment issues from time to time, Chet had Degenhardt Implement and his son-in-law on speed dial, both of whom believed he would often break something just so they could fix it!
Some might describe Chet as a perfectionist in the way his home was always kept, the lawns perfectly manicured, the vehicles or machines running efficiently or the pristine condition the warehouse was maintained. He was a loyal and respected man and he had high expectations, for both his family and his employees, and seeing the fruits of their labor gave him a great sense of pride. His loyalty was reciprocal and those fortunate to have known him, will carry his legacy forward for years to come.
Chet was an avid gun collector and loved to hunt, whether locally or out west, he enjoyed the sport and its associated bragging rights. For years, he would venture out west to Colorado hunting and the stories of the group’s adventures were often larger than life, as were some of the trophies hung on display within his home or farm shop, too.
As the years went on, Chet and Janet became “snowbirds” and would escape the cold winter months by vacationing at Islands End in St. Pete Beach, FL. In 2012, they purchased their retirement home on the bay in St. Pete Beach, where they would host family and friends to escape the frigid temperatures of a Wisconsin winter. Chet and Janet were the life of the party and they enjoyed generously entertaining for visitors and neighbors alike, eventually hosting an annual, neighborhood Valentine’s Day party that was all the rage for those fortunate to attend.
Chet married Violeta Jone Gamble January 14, 2022, at her home in Palm Island, FL, where they celebrated with family and friends. Little did they know that this would be the last party Chet would throw. Having received some devasting health news, Chet requested his children, and their spouses, travel to Florida on March 8, 2022, to spend two weeks with him and Jone. If you know Chet, then you know he always got his way and so on Sunday, March 13, 2022, David, Jane, Jake, Danelle, Steve and Deanna all arrived where they would spend the next two weeks together until Chet passed on Sunday, March 27, 2022. He got his way!
Surviving are his wife, Jone Gamble, his children, David and Jane Schanhofer, Steve and Deanna Rickert, Jake and Danelle Jacobson; grandchildren, Jessica, Jennifer, Jared and Allison Rickert, Melisa, Michael, Colin and Rachel Jacobson, John Kast and Kellie (Trent) Hagen; and ten great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Janet, granddaughter, Melinda Jacobson and his grandson, Ryan Jacobson.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12 noon on Saturday, April 2, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Sparta, with Father Eric Berns officiating. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery, Sparta.
Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday, April 1, 2022 at Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home and Cremation, Sparta, and from 11 a.m. until 12 noon on Saturday at the church. Online condolences may be offered at schanhoferfh.com
Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home and Cremation, Sparta, is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.