Norman J. Esser Sr.

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BLACK EARTH/CROSS PLAINS-Norman J. Esser Sr. passed away on June 28, 2020, at Agrace HospiceCare. He was born at home on Feb. 27, 1940, in the Town of Cross Plains, the son of Bernard and Lucinda (Lamberty) Esser. At age four, he moved and grew up with his family on the farm on Hwy. J in Pine Bluff. He graduated from Mount Horeb High School, Class of 1958.

Norman enlisted in the US Army National Guard in 1960 and went to defend his country in the Berlin Crisis in 1961. He met his Sweetheart Karen L. LaBelle on a blind date and they were married at St. Norbert's Catholic Church in Roxbury on April 15, 1964. Together, they joined St. Francis Xavier Parish where he later served on the parish council and are still members today. Norm and Karen bought their first home in the Village of Cross Plains where they lived and raised their 10 children for 49 years prior to moving to Black Earth.

Norm's faith was a driving force throughout his life, and he considered his family his most important asset. He became a member of Catholic Knights in 1958 and held roles of president and trustee. Norm joined the Knights of Columbus in 1965 where he later earned a 4th Degree Membership status and held various roles including Deputy Grand Knight, Grand Knight and Financial Secretary. He joined Cross Plains-Berry Volunteer Fire Department in 1966 and was an active member for 44 years and held a position of Assistant Fire Chief. Norman was a member of the American Legion Post No. 245 since 1987 and served every year on the Cross Plains World's Fair Committee. He started working for the Village of Cross Plains in 1971 where he worked for 46 years.

Norm enjoyed playing cards (Solo, Sheepshead, Euchre, Cribbage and Poker), bowling, playing the slots, traveling (by car) and cheering on his children and grandchildren in sports.

Norm was preceded in death by his father, Bernard Herman Esser; mother, Lucinda Catherine (Lamberty) Esser, sister, Kathryn (Kay) Esser; daughter, Mary Jane (at birth); father-in-law and mother-in-law, Gordon and Jeannette LaBelle; sisters-in-law, Janice Marklein, Sara LaBelle and Sheila Disrud; Sara LaBelle; brothers-in-law, Leon and Darrelle LaBelle; and five nephews.

Norman is survived by his wife, Karen; 10 children, Dawn (Dan) Fargen, Tammy (Mike) Diebold, Wendy (Steve) Martjg, Gail (Mark) Rettenmund, Lori (Troy) Hellenbrand, Gordon (Amy) Esser, Annette (Mark) Geisler, Norman Jr. (Anne) Esser, Janelle (Darrin) Zimmerman and Kelly (Jason) Klock; 31 grandchildren, Kyle and Jacob Fargen, Kayla (Jason) Writz, Brian Diebold and Jessica (Aaron) Gowan, Justin and Heather Martig, Vanessa (Cody) Lochner, Derick (Kaitlyn) Rettenmund, Lindsey, Devin, Brenda and Alisha Rettenmund, Jordan and Hayden Hellenbrand, Travis Flannery, Zachary Esser (Nicole Kelly), Tyler and Nolan Esser, Jake and Braeden Geisler, Lynnette (Doug) Sutcliffe, Norman J. III (Brittany) Esser, Keagan, Lainey and Gabriella Esser, Matthew and Mackenzie Zimmerman, and Cole, Dylan and Kylie Klock; nine great-grandchildren (with two more on the way); brother,-in-law, Kenneth (Mary Carol) Esser; sisters-in-law, Sally (Donald) Ringelstetter, Sharon LaBelle, Vicky Labelle, Joan Schneider and Janeen LaBelle (Philip) Barreau; brother-in-law, Lloyd Marklein; and many nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 2947 Thinnes St., Cross Plains, at 11 a.m. on July 2, 2020, with Father Tom Kelley presiding. Visitation will be held at the church from 4-7 p.m. on July 1, 2020 and also from 10 a.m. until the time of the Mass on Thursday. Due to COVID-19 guidelines at this time, social distancing and face masks are required. Friends and family who wish to view services via LIVE STREAM may visit the church website:

Norman’s family would like to personally thank District 1 EMS, his team of physicians and nursing staff and care takers over the past several years. A special thank you to Agrace HospiceCare staff for providing Dad with the best care possible, keeping him comfortable and assisting our large family in his final days.

“Go rest high on that mountain son, your work on earth is done. Go to heaven a-shoutin’ love for the father and the son.” ~Vince Gill

Online condolences may be made at

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