Robert Richard Hartwig, 84, of Wausau, passed away quietly at home on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011.
Robert was born Sept. 9, 1927, to Erwin and Emily (Zunker) Hartwig. He was united in marriage to his loving wife of 57 years, Mary Jo (Dunlevy) Hartwig. Bob and Mary Jo raised four children, Mary Elizabeth, Jim, Linda, and Daniel.
Upon graduating from Wausau High School in 1946, Bob served two years in the Marines. After attending the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County and Marquette University, Bob returned to Wausau. In 1950, borrowing money against his life insurance policy, Bob purchased a drill and lathe, and began producing custom components for local manufacturers. From this simple beginning, Bob's company grew into Hartwig Manufacturing Corp., one of the Midwest's premier bridge fabricators. The company won several awards for its work from organizations such as the National Steel Bridge Alliance and the American Institute of Steel Construction.
Bob and Mary Jo were tireless supporters of the Wausau Community and did not seek recognition for their many contributions. Their gifts, both personal and through the Robert and Mary Jo Hartwig Family Foundation, were often given anonymously and benefited a variety of organizations and needs. In 1980, Bob was among the inaugural recipients of The State of Wisconsin Governor's Award in Support of the Arts. He and Hartwig Manufacturing were "among the community resources that brought about the (arts) renaissance in Wausau." In 1981, he received a distinguished service award for his years of service on the Wausau Hospital Center Board of Directors.
From early on, Bob was concerned about his company's impact on the environment. He saw it simply as "doing the right thing." The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources saw it as more than that. In 1990, they awarded Bob and Hartwig Manufacturing the Brogan Award for Environmental Excellence.
Following the sale in 1992 of Hartwig Manufacturing to national conglomerate Pitt-Des Moines, Bob "retired." But, retirement did not come easily. A man with an unparalleled work ethic, Bob continued in business, forming a partnership that eventually purchased Northern Wire LLC in Merrill. During this time, he also served as president of his beloved Rainbo Lodge in Vilas County.
Bob loved fly-fishing, bird hunting, gardening and puzzles, and will long be remembered for numerous projects and hobbies, such as producing maple syrup, quilting, canning, picking strawberries and making jam. But, his greatest joy came from spending time with his family in Wausau, at their cottage in Northern Wisconsin, and their home on Sanibel Island, Fla.
Bob will be profoundly missed by those who loved him.
Bob is survived by his wife, Mary Jo Hartwig of Wausau; four children, Mary Elizabeth Hartwig of Milwaukee, Jim (Jori) Hartwig of Grand Rapids, Mich., Linda Hartwig of Franklin, and Daniel (Ellen) Hartwig of Wausau; three grandchildren, Elizabeth, James and Daniel Casey; one brother, John (Mary Ann) Hartwig; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; and two sisters.
The family would like to thank the caregivers of Interim Health Care who lovingly took care of Bob at home, especially Terry, Chelsea, Ashley and Pam, as well as the medical staff at Aspirus Hospital and Wausau Manor Rehabilitation.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, at St. Matthew's Catholic Church, 229 South 28th Ave., Wausau. The Rev. Bob Thorn will officiate. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Brainard Funeral Home, 522 Adams St., Wausau, and again from 10:30 a.m. until the time of the services at the church on Wednesday. Burial will take place in Restlawn Memorial Park, Wausau.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be given to the Women's Community of Wausau or the Boys and Girls Club.
Condolences may be given at www.brainardfuneral.com