John Rusch Jr.

John Stanley Rusch, Jr., 59, passed away on June 8, 2020, after a fierce 33-year battle with multiple sclerosis.

John was born on Nov. 2, 1960, in Fort Atkinson, to John and Evelyn (Flek) Rusch Sr., and raised in Cambridge. He graduated from Cambridge High School, Class of 1979.

On July 29, 1995, he married Kimberly Bakken, and together they had two sons: Matthew and Joshua.

John was a true, passionate gearhead who basically was self-taught from growing up on the farm. Anyone who knew anything about engines, especially transmissions, knew John. He spent endless hours turning a wrench in his garage and even more hours telling stories. John took tremendous pride in his boys finding the love of the garage.

Some of John’s best memories were the years spent camping with Kim and the boys. He would talk about those trips for hours. He also had a great love and passion for working on and pulling mini-rods.

John fought multiple sclerosis on his own terms, as if there was a trophy at the end of the road. Rarely following the doctor’s orders, he always found a way around what was recommended and did what made him happy. He persevered in recent years when the cards all were lined up against him. John was headstrong, relentless, stubborn and strong. So, so strong.

John is survived by the mother of his boys, Kimberly; his sons, Matthew (Harley McDowell) and Joshua (Nicole Lemanski); grandson, Weston Matthew Rusch; stepchildren, Michael (Karie) Evans and Hannah (Neil) Dempsey; and stepgrandchildren, Kate Evans, Eden, Haden and Hilden Dempsey. He also is survived by his lifelong best friend, Brian Ranney; and many siblings, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John S. Rusch, Sr. and Evelyn Rusch.

Thank you, Rainbow Hospice for the care John received the past year. Especially his amazing nurses who were able to find humor in all of his antics and grace in his time of need.

A celebration of John’s life will take place Tuesday, June 16, at Hering’s Towne Inn, Jefferson, from 5 to 7 p.m. Feel free to stop in and share a story or memory.

Nitardy Funeral Home is serving the family

Online condolences can be given to the family at

“The sorrow we feel when we lose a loved one is the price we pay to have had them in our lives.”

“Life is a beautiful struggle.”

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