June 21, 1944 - June 7, 2021
Fort Atkinson, WI - Steven R. Erdman, 76, of Fort Atkinson, passed away on Monday, June 7, 2021 at St. Mary's Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin. He and his family were blessed that he was a 17-year leukemia cancer survivor.
Steve was born June 21, 1944, at Fort Memorial Hospital in Fort Atkinson to William and Leona (Larson) Erdman. He was raised on the family's Guernsey dairy farm in rural Fort Atkinson, attending Ripley country school and then St. Paul's grade school. Steve graduated from Fort Atkinson High School in 1963 where he was active in FFA and played football, volleyball, and baseball. He was a member of the Ideal Holstein 4-H Club and showed cattle at the Jefferson County Fair, Wisconsin State Fair, and World Dairy Expo.
Steve married Shirley Stelse of Fort Atkinson on June 16, 1973, at Bethany Lutheran Church, Fort Atkinson. To add to that excitement, Wisconsin (including Jefferson County) experienced tornadoes that day, but the wedding went on as scheduled. Steve and Shirley would have celebrated 48 years of marriage this year.
Throughout his life Steve worked in sales. He was employed by Moe Light for a short time, spent 15 years as produce manager for Vos Sentry, and then worked at Steve's Furniture, Smith Motors, and the Jefferson County Advertiser.
Working side-by-side with Shirley, they also owned and operated "The Tasty Corner" in Fort Atkinson for 10 years. Steve loved to cook on the grill. In addition to cooking at many weddings and graduations, he organized a cookout for the 1976 Bicentennial Wagon Train that passed through Fort Atkinson, serving more than 2,000 people.
For the past 40 years, Steve was also very involved with the estate sale business with Shirley. Before that he partnered with his cousin Doug and owned Grandma Donkle's Antique Shop.
In June of 1980 the joy of Steve's life was born, his one and only son, Trent. Steve was Trent's top fan in whatever he did. When Trent turned 16, Steve spent every Saturday night during racing season at the Jefferson Speedway, watching Trent race. That cheering continued for 20 years.
Steve enjoyed watching stock car racing; in his younger years he watched racing three nights a week with good friends. After getting married and for 25 years, he and Shirley didn't miss a Saturday night at Jefferson Speedway or a Sunday night at Sun Prairie watching the midgets race. During those years they traveled to Michigan and Oklahoma to watch the Chili Bowl, to Kansas to watch midget cars, and to Las Vegas to watch NASCAR.
He loved and supported the Milwaukee Brewers and the Wisconsin Badgers. On any given day you could find Steve sitting on the patio listening to a ball game or listening to country or southern gospel music. He also enjoyed attending Christian concerts at the Fireside as well as in the Dells, traveling to Branson, Missouri, and sampling Wisconsin fish frys.
Steve will also be remembered for his love of anything to do with Christmas. Laura Beane got him started on collecting Christmas postcards, and from there he started collecting die cuts, ornaments, and you name it. He enjoyed decorating their house to the fullest extent at Christmas. He also was a member of the international Golden Glow of Christmas Past organization, attending member events in Wisconsin and conventions around the country.
Another passion was collecting toy tractors and race cars. For over 25 years Steve traveled with friends to the National Toy Tractor Show in Dyersville, Iowa. He also loved the hunt for antiques and especially enjoyed collecting vintage crocks and jugs.
Throughout his life, Steve enjoyed working with youth and supporting their activities. He was well known as head herdsman for the Jefferson County 4-H members showing at the Wisconsin State Fair, where they earned first-place herdsmanship awards for 20 years. His love for cattle continued as he watched Trent show at the Jefferson County Fair, State and District shows, and World Dairy Expo. He also coached Little League baseball and was a leader for Awanas at Faith Community Church.
Steve was an original member of the Jefferson County Fair Park Activity Center Board, a former member of Kiwanis, and a past member of Faith Community Church where he served as a deacon for many years. He's been a member of the Church on the Rock, formerly Church in the Barn, for the past nine years. Steve's faith was a very important part of his life. On any given occasion, he would give testimonies as to what God had done in his life.
He is survived by his wife, Shirley; son, Trent (Christine Hansen) Erdman, Fort Atkinson; sister, Nancy Erdman, Fort Atkinson; sisters-in-law, Judy Brown and Linda Fromader, both of Fort Atkinson; many nieces and nephews, other relatives, and good friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Jim, and sister-in-law Sherry; brothers-in-law, Don Brown and Dave Fromader, and father and mother in-law, Vernon and Erna Stelse.
Memorial services will be held on Wednesday, June 16, at 11 a.m. at Church on the Rock, 1401 N. High Street, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, with Pastor William Bartz officiating. Visitation will be held Tuesday, June 15, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the church, and at 10 a.m. Wednesday until the time of the service. A private family burial will be held at a later date.
Memorials in Steve's memory may be made to the family. They will direct those in a way to honor Steve and the organizations he supported.
The Dunlap Memorial Home is assisting the family.