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Former fire chief Norman 'Pepper' Steffen dies at 85

April 1, 2014

A lifelong Sussex and Lisbon resident, Norman "Pepper" Steffen, died Saturday, March 29, 2014, one month short of his 86th birthday.

He was born on a Lisbon farm off Highway 164 on April 29, 1928, to Otto and Anna Steffen, the last of six children. At about age 6, forced by the Depression, he moved with his family to Sussex where his father became a milk hauler.

The Steffen family was part of the "Lisbon German Invasion" that started about 1880 with the Stiers, Mankes and later the Steffens and Tetzlaffs.

Norman is said to have gained the nickname of Pepper as a youth because his mother made special peppernut hard cookies. Even when he was 85 years of age many people did not know that his baptized name was Norman.

He attended the Lisbon Sixteen School with Miss Thelma Halquist as his teacher. On moving to Sussex he attended Sussex Main Street School, graduating in 1942. He attended the two-year Sussex High School, graduating in 1944, and finally graduated after two more years, in 1946, from Menomonee Falls High School.

Steffen played on the Sussex High School baseball and basketball teams, and later played on the Sussex Land of Puddles and Rivers teams.

He started hauling milk with his father in 1943, and then took over his own route for Golden Guernsey Dairy in a 25-year career.

Steffen joined the Sussex Fire Department in 1950. He entered the Army during the Korean War, and served at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, and Fort Hood, Texas, mostly as a truck driver.

Steffen met his future wife, Joan Cumiskey at a wedding reception for his friend, Charles Zimmermann. Soon after his release from service he and Joan were married. They had three children — Pam, Randy, and Jimmy, who died of cancer at age 11.

In 1950, after he joined the Sussex Fire Department, it became his second home. He held the steward post, and later was a lieutenant and a captain before becoming chief in 1973.

He served as chief until 1975, when he suffered a stroke. While he gave up the chief's position, he was a member of the fire department until 1984, having served 33 years in all.

Pepper Steffen was from a dancing family, and he loved to play sheepshead and cribbage, especially with family members. Just recently he won $5 in a family cribbage tournament.

Steffen was preceded in death by his wife, Joan, who died of cancer in 2004. He is survived by son Randy, daughter Pam (John)Willoughby, three grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Services will be at Redeemer United Church of Christ at 7 p.m. Thursday, with visitation from 3 to 6:45 p.m.

Interment is set for Friday at Pine Lawn Cemetery.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

First Saturday Delafield Contra Dance: 7 p.m. March 7, Prairie Hill Waldorf School, N14-W29143 Silvernail Road, Pewaukee. Lessons are at 7-8 p.m. and dance with caller and band from 8-11 p.m. Visit www.delafieldcontra.com or call (262) 490-0769. $8, $5 students.

Elvis Tribute: 7 p.m. March 7, Hamilton Fine Arts Center, W220 N6151 Town Line Road, Sussex. Award-winning Elvis tribute artist Tony Rocker and his band, The Comeback Special,  presents “One Night with You.” Rocker wears exact replicas of the jumpsuits worn by Elvis and performs the hit songs in authentic style. $25-$30. Add $5 at the door. www.hamiltonfineartscenter.com

Live Music: 6 p.m. March 7, Seven Seas, 1807 Nagawicka Road, Hartland. Live Music at Seven Seas in the lounge & bar area. Enjoy drinks and dancing while listening to Johanna & Georgia sing and play saxophone. www.sevenseaswi.com

St. Paul & Paddy Irish-themed Fish Fry: 4:30-7:30 p.m. March 6, St. Paul School, S38 W31602 County Road D, Genesee Depot. Fiddler Ed Paloucek will perform Celtic music. Menu includes fried and baked cod, grilled cheese, baked potato, curly fries, coleslaw, applesauce, coffee and milk. Soda and alcoholic beverages, including green beer, are extra. Wear green or St. Patrick wear to be entered into a free drawing to win a gift basket of Irish-themed treats. Call (262) 392-2920 for reservations. $10.50 adults, $5 children, free for children 4 and younger.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

All weekend happenings.