I had the great pleasure of working with Jon Peter, Tom Hammer and Dan Blinka in 1977-78 when I worked as an intern at the DA's office and we were assigned to a retrial of a double homicide.
It was quite impressive that one of the first prosecutors I ever met was a member of the ACLU - or so I was told. Pete taught so many young lawyers to be prepared, to research everything and to be honest in our search for truth and justice. He would never even come close to any line. He was, truthfully, incorruptible and a man of the utmost integrity. Yet he had and shared with us all a great sense of humor.
You are lucky to have had such a great mentor as your father and we were lucky to have shared this earth with him even for a moment.
Jon Peter was a giant in the law. So many others have spoken eloquently of his passion and integrity. I can only second their sentiments and memories.
Jon Peter was everything a prosecutor should be. Fair, open minded and driven by a pursuit of the truth.
As a young defense attorney, he had a profound and positive effect on me. I admired him greatly.
He will be missed.
What was said of his hero Lincoln may now be said of him, "He now belongs to the ages."
I am sorry for your loss. God Bless.
Edward J. Hunt
I have many memories of Uncle Pete; the memories encompass many different phases of both his life and mine. As a little girl, Uncle Pete was my very doting uncle. He taught me how to play chess at an early age and equipped me with my very own briefcase in the third grade. I was thrilled to have received such a mature gift. That briefcase, and the requisite inscription inside, put a smile on my face for many years - especially when my own young son recycled it to play secret agent. I am old enough, but not really that old, to remember when Uncle Pete became a husband and a father four times. He became a surrogate dad for me when we both lost his brother, my dad, at the age of 46. After the birth of my son, he embraced a “Grandpa Genrich” role and kept the memory of my dad alive. The exchanges between my son and Uncle Pete confirmed what I had always suspected…. the love of baseball, history, and politics is genetically based in the Genrich family. (In keeping with that thought, Uncle Pete insisted on buying my son his first baseball glove. Ironically, the first Little League team he used it for in Michigan was the Brewers.) Our summer “meanders” of Wisconsin usually included stops in Milwaukee to catch a Brewer's game with Uncle Pete. To watch Uncle Pete and my son take in baseball games together while conversing about baseball and politics was priceless. Each summer the game-day conversations were wonderfully similar but just more cerebral. As much as I love baseball, I loved watching the two of them more than the game. The baseball games between my son and Uncle Pete eventually were replaced with conversations outside the stadium about colleges, college courses – Law & Society, upcoming elections, summer DC internships, and of course, baseball. I wish we could have had him for more phases of our lives, but I know my life, and that of my family, was enhanced by Uncle Pete. He will be greatly missed, but “Love is Eternal”.
Wow! What an impressive, beautiful tribute to my "Uncle Pete"! There are countless childhood memories that I have from visiting Wauwatosa! I would always look forward to making this trip from Eau Claire to visit Aunt Susan, Uncle Pete and my 4 cousins! It was always an adventure taking the bus to downtown Milwaukee. This is where I was able to go to my first and only Brewer game, the Mayfair Mall, and the Milwaukee Zoo! I also have a memory of walking, for what seemed like miles and miles, to go to the movie Star Wars when it first came out! Pete was the leader of the pack, walking so fast...I remember wondering how those short legs could clip right along at such a swift speed;) However, he would always make sure everyone would stay together to be safe. AHH- and the aroma of the gourmet meals that were always served in the Genrich house!! I also remember playing ball outside for hours in the backyard; and if my 43 yr. old memory serves me correctly, we would walk a few blocks to a creek/ravine and play there too-(of course we would do this when Uncle Pete was at work so he would not be worried that we would be in danger!) Pete was very protective of his family and cared for them a great deal. Oh, how I miss those visits! The tall, brick house with the stained-glass windows, along with the winding staircase with black and white shag carpet that led to our STEAM SHOWERS upstairs! Finally, I cannot forget to mention the countless hours of BOARD GAMES we played every night-(clue, battleship, scrabble, dominoes, war, charades...a never-ending list!) The most vivid memory of Pete that I have when I close my eyes is of him sitting in his chair, next to the floor lamp, reading a book or the newspaper! It seemed as though he was always reading something...It is evident that Pete valued being a life-long learner. These are memories that I will always hold and wanted to share with you. David, Tommy, Elizabeth and Danny- you wrote a remarkable, inspiring tribute to your dad. I am certain that you have all reflected and learned from your dad's successes, knowledge, amazing gifts he had to offer, along with his mistakes and have applied these to your own lives. You will always have your memories of what a truly incredible individual he was!
Love you all, Jenny
David, Tom, Elizabeth and Dan
What a beautiful legacy to your dad. He is looking upon you now and very proudly, I am sure. He certainly was an inspiration to his professional peers as well as to each of you. May these wonderful memories help you to find peace when for no reason that tear appears. Blessings.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Jon Peter in the early part of my career as a prosecutor. I remember him as a man possessing uncommon legal acumen. Mostly though, I remember Pete as a man of integrity who was passionate about doing justice. Hearing of his death, I am reminded that he stood for doing what was right and I am reminded as well of the need to continue to follow his example. Please accept my sincere sympathies upon your loss, a loss that is certainly shared by all criminal justice professionals in Milwaukee County.
What a lovely tribute to a great man. I had the privilige of working with him in the DA's office, and was one of the many young lawyers that he taught and mentored. He had a brilliant legal mind, and brought endless energy and dedication to searching for justice. We will miss him. Judge Jane Carroll
I was privileged to meet Jon Peter when I began working in the DA's office in 1986. He was truly one of a kind. He never bent to what was popular or expedient, and followed only what was right. He was a walking, talking encylopedia of legal wisdom and always willing to help those around him.
He is greatly missed by the criminal justice system in Milwaukee, but the lessons he shared have been and will continue to be passed down. He made all of us better lawyers and Milwaukee a better place.
Thank you so much for all the effort that went into writing the memorial that appeared in the newspaper. It captured the Jon Peter we all knew and respected to a "t". I'm sorry for your loss, but your father lives on in the the courts of Milwaukee County every day.
I learned how to be a criminal trial lawyer from your father. In my younger years as a ADA I would watch your father in trial and be mesmorized by his ability to communicate to the jury as the common man. Yet he was not the common man, he was a true intellectual who could communicate like the common man. I will never forget our baseball conversations and his memory for detail. Often before starting a homicide trial I would find Pete and go through my facts and ask him what he thought. He would always end with telling me to seek the truth. I still have his retirement memo with it's reflections in my office. Pete was the heart of the office in the 80s to the mid 90s. He was a friend and even today a inspiration to me.
My sympathy to you all. Wisconsin lost one of the finest men and lawyers ever. He was fair, honest and brilliant. It was a great gift to have known him.
Thank you all for the wonderful memories of our dad you have shared. They are very moving to us, and we can't thank you enough for taking time to post them.
Angie, we share such good memories of childhood time spent together with our Dickerson cousins in Wauwatosa! Thank you for reliving the laughter with us. Our love to you Angie.
Carol, thank you for the sympathies and very gracious words. They are appreciated, as is your friendship to our mom.
Judge DiMotto, Judge Foley, Mr. Caton, Mr. Molitor, Mr. Zier, Mr. Kenney, Mr. Love, and Mr. Berg: Thank you so much for the condolences, remembrances, and kind reflections on our father. Most importantly, thank you for being good colleagues and friends to him. His career as a prosecutor and public servant was so very important to him. As kids, there is so much of that part of him we never saw. He talked through the years of Children's Court, of the high profile matters - VanDyke earlier on, Dahmer later on, and others - spanning decades that he was involved in, his time in Judge Seraphim's courtroom, his mentorship of young Assistants, and his appellate advocacy before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He always referred to himself not as a lawyer or an attorney, but as a prosecutor.
We know the District Attorney's Office was not a stranger to an occasional single-spaced, manually typewritten memo outlining his thoughts on the operation of the Office and the courts. The job, as you all know, was and is a tough one, and it taxed him physically and emotionally. There were cases that tried his soul. He voiced many, many times - countless really - how grateful he was to Mr. McCann for hiring him and for giving him some room through the years to be who he needed to be. He knew that his passion required a remarkably understanding boss (especially when an elected official in a highly-visible Office) and group of colleagues. There is no question that he counted Mr. McCann and colleagues and friends like you as among the very most important people in his life. Thank you.
It was so good of each of you to take time to write. Our dad asked for a private gathering and not a public visitation or service, and in honoring that wish we will miss the chance to meet his professional peers and learn about him from each of you. And we wish miss the chance to thank you for your friendship to our dad. His place in the history of the juvenile and adult justice system in Milwaukee County lives on through all of you, and we are extremely grateful for that. Thank you.
We hope others may share a memory, and we draw strength from them. We may not thank each person in this space personally, but please know we will read and cherish each and every entry.
Dan, Elizabeth, Tom, and David
I had the honor and privilege of knowing and working with your father during our mutual time in the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office. He had one of the finest legal minds and sense of justice of anyone in the office. My favorite story about your dad was when he prosecuted a man who had bilked about a dozen women out of their life savings by promising to marry them and then running off with their money. In the theft by fraud felony jury trial that followed the defendant, a glib smooth talker, testified, and it came time for cross examination. Your dad announced that he had no questions. This was too much for the defendant, who asked "Mr. Genrich, aren't you going to ask me any questions." Your dad did that little Genrich cock of his head, then said "Mr. Lambert, this jury has heard 12 women testify how you conned them out of their money. You have spent the last two hours trying to con the ladies and gentlemen of this jury. You aren't going to con me," and he sat down. Your dad was one of a kind, and very devoted to his family. He cared also for his colleagues - he was the only one of my colleagues to send me a condolence note when my dad passed away in 1977. The grief will pass, and the good memories will remain. My thoughts are with you.
Deputy District Attorney (retired)
I met Pete when I was a new public defender in 1981. At first, I didn't know what to make of a DA who quoted Clarence Darrow and the great classics of literature as easily as he recited statute numbers but I soon grew to appreciate the vast array of topics he could discuss knowledgeably. He always wanted to do the right thing and he agonized over the impact of his decisions on victims and defendants. He never wanted to have the conviction of an innocent man on his conscience and he would follow up on any information I gave him to help him resolve the issues. I always had a special place in my heart for Pete and admired him tremendously. The world is a little less interesting and upright with his passing. My best wishes and prayers to you all.
Pete was a kind and great man. He had such a gentleness about him, making him approachable for those of us he had to train. He was a good teacher. I am a proud owner of quite a number of his memos, which I keep and review every year. They are as relevant today as they were back in the 80's and 90's. I am very sorry for your loss, but as you said, Love is eternal.
Miriam Falk, Milwaukee
Although I never worked directly with your father in the Milwuakee County District Attorney's office, I still treasure his single spaced, typed memorandum on legal issues that I recieved as a "new" DA. He was a highly repected, generous and inspiring attorney in this office. I am sorry for your loss and grateful for his life in the law.
My sympathy for your loss. The obituary was perfect in capturing Jon Peter. I am proud to have been his friend and to have had the opportunity to learn from him. I was like many in the District Attorney's office who had a file titled "Genrich Memos", brilliant and insightful writing from an amazing man.
David, Tom, Elizabeth & Dan -
How lovingly you have honored your Dad through his beautifully scripted obituary. The lessons he taught and the examples he set for you and many others will shine on for years to come. May his spirit be with you and those you love, and may you feel God's grace and comfort as you say your farewell. I send you my sincere sympathy.
Your Mom's friend,
I was privileged to practice criminal defense with Jon peter Genrich as my nominal adversary , compatriot and friend for a number of years while heading the Misdemeanor and subsequently the Felony Division of the Milwaukee County Public Defender's Office.
Peter was, hands down, the finest lawyer I knew in the prosecutor's office.
Not only was he a dynamic force in court, he was a sensitive and compassionate collaborator in finding justice for both sides of a case without going through the often brutal process of a jury trial
If ever a man was crafted for "The Law", it was Peter.
I am grateful for having knowing him and truly mourn his passing
Jon Peter was a funny, passionate and wise man. I met him on my first day in the DA's office roughly 36 years ago. I was told he would teach me about work on the "complaint team". As I walked into the office, he greeted me with a big smile wearing a noose necklace fashioned from a cord attached to the window shade. "MASH" humor was common in the office where each day brings heavy doses of human cruelty. As a prosecutor, he brought a very sharp intellect and passion for justice to his work. He extended great energy to fight evil and very rarely lost a case. Countless citizens were not victimized due to his tireless efforts. He was a unsung hero. Your obituary was wonderful and very accurate. You have much to be proud of.
I send my deepest sympathies to my dear cousins and their families. Uncle Pete, as we knew him, was the smartest man that I ever met. I remember going home after a visit to Milwaukee and trying to explain to my childhood friends how 'smart' my Uncle Pete was! :) I will always have very fond memories of his kindness. He would take us to Milwaukee Brewer games, to the Zoo, and I'll never forget watching Star Wars in the Theatre with Uncle Pete! ... The FIRST one! And then there was that night when we were all playing the board game 'Scatagories' and I needed a bed pillow for my 'charade'. Well, little did I know that Uncle Pete was sleeping in the room next door when I ran in and literally pulled the pillow out from under his head! I really don't think I've ever seen his children laugh so loud!!
David, Tommy, Elizabeth, and Danny... it's obvious that he loved you all so much. May his memories forever fill your hearts with joy. Love, Angie
I offer my sympathies for your loss. I believe however, that when people like you dad, "Pete" as we called him, leave us, they go to a better place. I had the honor of working with your dad, as a team mate for the last ten years of his time in the da's office. I had only been in the office for about six months when I started working with him. I ended up working closely with him both as team mates at the children's court and then on a felony team. I could go on for pages about what I learned from him, and how he influenced the lawyer I became. I finally retired from the da's office this year after I realized that the frustrations would give me a second, and this time fatal heart attack, and often thinking of your dad, decided I had to quit. Your dad was deeply admired and liked by many people. He was also at times misunderstood because of the passion he felt for his work and life. As I came closer to my retirement I felt like a kindred spirit to your dad. I believe that my years in the da's office made a difference in many lives, and that your dad's friendship and guidance helped make that possible. The bottom line is he was a great lawyer, friend, and person who did what he thought was right and made a difference. He will be missed but not forgotten. May you and your family find comfort in your time of loss.
I had the distinct pleasure serving as an assistant district attorney with Jon Peter. He impressed me with his insatiable appetite to do justice served well by his monumental intellectual curiosity the fruits of which he was ever eager to distill and share in countless missives highly prized and admired by those of us lucky to be included in their distribution.
It is without doubt that he loved his family above all else. He was truly one of a kind-a brilliant, loving public servant
Jon was an intelligent and engaging man of many gifts. He was a great story teller! As a defense lawyer, I could trust his immutable commitment to his sense of justice. Jon moved me and I shall miss him. He was a good man who stood above others. Joseph Caton
I inherited by passion for fairness and justice from my father (and mother), but it was substantially reinforced by working for and ultimately with your dad.
After he retired, I always enjoyed our chance encounters at the bakery on 60th and Vliet where we both fed our insatiable sweet tooth. He always spoke so proudly of his children.
I will miss him. He made remarkable contributions to the justice system in Milwaukee.
Judge Christopher Foley and Family
My condolences to the entire Genrich family. I worked with Jon Peter in the Milwaukee County District Attorneys Office. He was one of the best trial attorneys I ever knew. I worked side by side with him in Judge Seraphim's courtroom for several months where he "taught me the ropes" of being a prosecutor. His mantra -- Do Justice. He will be missed by all.