James (Jim) Edward Ashbrenner

James (Jim) Edward Ashbrenner, of Rhinelander, passed away suddenly Feb. 21, 2020 in Alamogordo, New Mexico, at the age of 79.

Jim was born on Oct. 2, 1940, the second child of Edward and Ruth Ashbrenner, in Merrill. He was a farm kid with a work ethic, love of nature, and animals that would guide him the rest of his life.

Jim went to Merrill High School, where he was active in the FFA and graduated in 1958. After high school, he attended North Central Technical College in Wausau and earned an associate degree in Agriculture. He started his career with the Wisconsin DNR in 1960, working in fire control and fire towers at the Merrill Ranger station until 1964, when he was drafted into the US Army. He was stationed in South Korea until Dec.1965, when he returned home to Merrill. After his service time, he followed his job to Rhinelander, where he worked at the Ranger Station in fire control and game research. Throughout his career he joined fire crews to fight wild fires in Texas, Washington, California, Nevada, South Carolina and Florida. He also volunteered his time as a “special” with the DNR game wardens. He retired from the Wisconsin DNR in 2000.

Jim met the love of his life, Dallas, in Nov. of 1967 and they were married May 9, 1970. Jim and Dallas raised two children, James (Jamie) born in 1972, and Jennifer (Jen) born in 1975, at their home south of Rhinelander in the town of Harrison.

Jim was always busy doing something, riding motorcycles, hunting, fishing, logging, gardening, staying at his hunting shack or just “putzing around.” He always made time to instill his wisdom and love for the outdoors in his kids and grandkids. He was at every sporting event, school event, or anything to do with his children. When his grandchildren came along, they were the light of his life and he bonded with each one in his own way; going out for ice cream (don’t tell grandma), riding on his tractors, making wood knot faces on the trees around the yard, having (pea shooter) wars, making maple syrup, or just walking the wooded trails behind his house. He always pointed out the specific things found in the woods: deer tracks, rubs, scrapes, bear scratchings, and the leaves of different trees. His kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids are his legacy.

After Jim retired, he and Dallas started wintering in south Texas. After a few years they decided to make Alamogordo their winter home. He enjoyed hiking the mountains around Alamogordo, hunting for elk sheds, garage sales, and hanging out at the picnic table with neighbors and friends.

Jim was also an animal lover. Over the years, he had many dogs and cats and even a litter of unexpected border collie pups. His favorite breed was the German Shorthair Pointer. Through his adult life he had six German Shorthair Pointers; Schnookie, Stosh, Sunny, Bud, Fritz and Hans. He trained every one of them himself to be a companion and upland hunting dog. Every dog took a piece of him when they passed, especially his last one, Hans, who passed away a week before he did. All of his dogs were a vital part of his life and family.

Everyone Jim met ended up with a nickname, whether they knew it or not. He was also a man of phrases. If you were nosy, you needed to “mind your own 40 acres,” if you were going through a rough patch, “it builds character” or “it is what it is,” if he liked you and your character he would say “he is a good man.” Jim lived by all these phrases his whole life, and in his passing, the world surely lost “a good man.”

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Edward and Ruth Ashbrenner; sister, Marilyn Stiver; and mother in law, June Hetzel.

Jim is survived by his wife of 49 years, Dallas (Hetzel) Ashbrenner of Rhinelander; their children, James (Ronda) Ashbrenner of Dodgeville, Jennifer (Eric) Schuette of Sugar Camp; grandchildren, Megan Ashbrenner of Saukville, Bennett James Ashbrenner of Dodgeville, Cassandra James (C.J.) Schuette of Hammond, Mason Schuette of Sugar Camp; great-grandchildren, Hunter James and Raelynn Ashbrenner of Dodgeville; brother, Dick (Judy) Ashbrenner of Merrill; father-in-law, Howard Hetzel of Tomahawk; brothers and sisters-in-law, Dennis Stiver of Merrill, Sally (Dick) Darmody of Boise, Idaho, Alan (Mary) Hetzel of Stevens Point, Bruce (Maribeth) Hetzel of Tomahawk, Mary (Jon) Langlois of Rhinelander, David (Debbie) Hetzel of Tomahawk; and many nieces and nephews.

Services are pending. The Ashbrenner family has entrusted their loved ones to the care of Alamogordo Funeral Home to direct the arrangements.

To sign the online register book, please visit www.alamogordofuneralhome.org.

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