Donald Laverne Hohlstein, age 88, passed away peacefully at Agrace Hospice Care in Fitchburg March 14, 2023. Don was born April 3, 1934, in Otsego, Wisconsin to Martha Hohlstein. He was raised by his grandparents, Fred and Minnie Hohlstein in Arlington until their passing and then by his extended family of aunts and uncles, especially Hank and Gladys Hohlstein in Otsego. He graduated from Rio High School in 1952 and from UW-Madison in 1958 with a degree in Sociology/Corrections. He worked as a probation and parole agent his entire career until his retirement. He married Sally Jo Dann October 22, 1955. They were married for 67 years and raised three daughters.
He had a long history of service to his community, as a member of the Rio Community Club, Redeemer Lutheran Church, and served as the first President of the Rio Area Historical Society. He wrote a weekly history article for the Rio Shopper for eleven years. He was also involved in the Poynette Historical Society and the Columbia County Historical Society. He was instrumental in establishing a softball diamond and tennis court, which bears his name, in Rio Fireman’s Park and worked on the Rio Depot Project.
His family and his Christian faith were the most important things in his life. He was also very proud of his 100% German heritage. His other passions included history, baseball, Rio sports, and driving a Volkswagen Beetle. A four-sport athlete in high school, his love of baseball continued throughout his life. He started playing at age 15 and continued with Home Talent Baseball until age 51. He coached Babe Ruth teams for many years. As an avid baseball fan, he took his grandchildren and many other Rio youth to Madison Muskie/Mallards, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago Cubs games over the years. He loved high school sports, attended countless games, and enjoyed watching his grandkids participate.
He is survived by his wife, Sally Jo, Rio, daughters Suzanne Dann, Cottonwood, Arizona, Lisa Selje, Milton, Amy Jo (Kurt) Benzine, Poynette, and “special daughter” Beth (Howard) Meekma, Fitchburg, five grandchildren, Dan (Sue) Selje, Megan (Dan) Dilley, Katrina (Jasper) Heilig, Matt (Casey) Selje, Joshua (Carly) Selje, and three great-grandchildren, Cecilia Selje and Axel and Ronin Dilley. He is further survived by brothers, Cliff (Barb) Hohlstein and Nelvin (Gloria) Olson, brothers-in-law Ken (Patricia) Dann, and Patrick (Carol) Dann, and sister Karla Seaver.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Rio Fireman’s Park Saturday, May 13, from 1 to 5 PM. The family would like to thank Agrace, his hospice team, for their unwavering support and guidance. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Rio Area Historical Society or Redeemer Lutheran Church.
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