Philip James Benzinger
Philip James Benzinger, 81, most recently of Owen, WI, passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones on September 29, 2023 while residing at Clark County Rehab and Living Center under the tender care of Promedica Hospice.
Phil was born on December 8, 1941 in Merrill, WI to Margie (Deates) and Albert Benzinger. He was baptized at St. Francis Xavior Church on January 25, 1941. He was a long time member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church of Wausau and later of St. John’s Lutheran Church of Withee.
He was a loving younger brother to Gary (Lois) Benzinger of Merrill and older brother to Jack (Sue) Benzinger of Sturgeon Bay, Carol (Jerry) Bird of Wausau, Sandy (Perry) Ackeret of Stevens Point, Colleen (Larry) Lasecki of Green Bay and Scott (Julie) Benzinger of Wausau. He was the uncle to many nieces and nephews through his siblings and by marriage whom he loved dearly and enjoyed visiting with them any chance he got.
He would often tell childhood stories of exploring the outdoors, bird hunting and swimming in the river out to the island. He loved playing baseball and basketball, being with family and friends and playing a good prank on his siblings or mom. He graduated from Merrill High School on May 26, 1960. It is there he met the love of his life, Wanda Jean Krueger, and they were married on Oct. 6, 1962.
Shortly after the wedding, Phil left for Air Force basic training. Afterwards, Phil and Wanda moved to Texas and lived on base while he served. After a short stint, Phil and Wanda returned to Merrill. Their journey together found them also living in Waupaca and Wausau. Phil was a loving, dedicated husband and took care of Wanda through many illnesses. Shortly after Wanda passed on August 18, 2008, Phil moved to Owen to be with his family.
Phil loved working with and getting to know people. He had many jobs as a kid, creating his hard work ethic, but as an adult, he started working as a meat cutter and eventually was co-owner of a grocery store. For most of his career, he worked in sales. He was a successful salesman, known for his friendly personality and trustworthy customer service. He started out by selling insurance and as a Phillips Liquor Distributor. He worked for a short time at Wausau Paper Mill where he learned about the mechanical process there. He then took that knowledge and his sales experience to work for Able Distributing of Wausau and later for Mechanical Supply out of Escanaba, MI. He ended his working years in another customer service role at Sir Speedy in Wausau.
In 1968, while living in Wausau, Phil and Wanda had their daughter Kay Lynn. He was a loving and caring dad who was active in her life. He had been her Sunday School teacher and bowling coach. He shared his love of the outdoors taking her camping and teaching her how to fish. He passed on his love of grilling and taking the back roads.
His family grew more when Kay Lynn (Benzinger) married Paul Heggemeier Sr. of Owen. He was later blessed with 6 grandchildren Heather Rae (Ben) Pedersen of Eau Claire, Tiffany of Owen, Emily of Allenton, Stephany of Chippewa Falls, PJ of Altoona and Benjamin of Eau Claire. He passed away with joy in his heart, knowing a great grandson was on the way. He loved being a grandpa. He was always available for sleepovers and adventures. He was their biggest fan coming to as many sporting events and performances as possible.
You might have known him as Phil, PJ, Benny, Mr. B, Grandpa B. or Schlop. But if you knew him, you knew of his big smile and warm personality. He was loved and will be dearly missed by many.
On Friday, October 13th, the family of Phil Benzinger will be holding a visitation from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. and a Memorial Service at 6:00 p.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Withee, WI with a Celebration Of Life to follow at IGYs Bar and Grill also in Withee. Military Honors provided by the Owen American Legion Post #123, Owen-Withee Vets Club and Thorp VFW Post #9057. The Maurina-Schilling Funeral Home in Owen is entrusted with the arrangements.
Family and friends may express condolences online at www.maurinaschilling.com