Joseph G. Gustafson, age 81 of Washburn, passed away with his loving family by his side on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at Memorial Medical Center in Ashland, WI, after a sudden and brief illness, complicated by his long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Joseph was born on Jan 4, 1939 in Bayfield, WI, the son of Reuben and Josephine (Peacock) Gustafson, as a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.
He graduated from Bayfield High School in 1957. He was in the US Army from 1963-1965, and served as an Infantryman in the Vietnam War. He received an Honorable Discharge after being wounded in the war. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal -Vietnam, Air Medal-Vietnam, and Good Conduct Medal, as well as achieving Marksman(Rifle M-1 and Pistol), and Expert (Rifle M-14). He was very proud of his time in the service, and never went anywhere without his Vietnam Veteran hat. He returned to the states, and moved to Kenosha, WI where he met his wife, Cheryl. They were united in marriage on April 15, 1967, in Bayfield, WI. Together they raised their three daughters in Janesville, WI. In 1972 he became a Wisconsin State Patrol Officer and served Southern Wisconsin. In 1984, he relocated back to Northern Wisconsin, his dream of returning to the Bayfield area. He lived in Ashland, WI, until his retirement from the State Patrol in 1994, and moved to Washburn, WI, in 1997. Joe had a very quick wit, loved telling stories, making people laugh, going out to eat, and visiting with people. He had a love of the Bayfield Troller basketball team where he had been kicked out of a game or two for voicing his opinion of an unfair call. Above all else he loved his wife, Cheryl, of 53 years and three daughters. He was very proud of all of his Grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife, Cheryl (Grandstaff) Gustafson; Daughters, Jody (Tony) Zordan, Ashland, WI, and Janice (Terry) Wilber, Washburn, WI; Three Grandchildren, Joseph Zordan, Kyle and Alex Wilber; Two brothers, Dave, and Ben (Janet) Gustafson, Red Cliff, WI; Mother-in-law, Marjorie Grandstaff, Yorkville, IL.
He was preceded in death by his infant daughter, Christine; Daughter and son-in-law, Debra (Chris) Kovach; Granddaughter, Amber Kovach.
Due to the Wisconsin Safer at Home Order, there will not be a memorial service.
Interment will be held at the Northern Wisconsin Veterans Cemetery, Spooner, WI, at a later, yet to be determined date.
Online condolences for Joseph’s family may be left at the funeral home’s website, www.mountainfuneralhomes.com
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Mountain Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Ashland and Mellen, WI.