Family and friends paid their respects Friday for a popular school superintendent.
Gary Neis died in a car crash Tuesday on Highway 11 near Benton. Investigators haven’t said why he swerved and hit a tree near his home. His vehicle then flipped over.
Hundreds of people stood in the rain to get the chance to say their goodbyes at his visitation. The wait to get into the Cuba City funeral home was sometimes at least an hour.
"I think he’s got 1,000 neighbors and he’s got 10,000 friends and we’re all here today," said Pecatonica School Board President Rick Rolfsmeyer.
He helped hire Neis in 2008 as the Pecatonica Superintendent, but the man everyone called “snowball”, was also the Facilities Manager and Human Resources Director, all while helping to avoid layoffs and add classes.
"He loved what he did, but he loved the kids and he’d do anything for kids," said Rolfsmeyer.
Before becoming superintendent for Pecatonica, Neis worked as a Superintendent and a teacher in Benton.
"A time like this, you want to celebrate a guy like Gary who touched so many people across villages, towns, county lines and school districts," said Rolfsmeyer. "We lost a really, really great man."
Nies' funeral was Saturday morning at St. Patrick’s Church in Benton. He’ll be laid to rest at the church’s cemetery. His family asked, instead of flowers, for help to start an educational scholarship that will be in Nies' name.