Joseph K. Kuemmel

MADISON-He walked on all seven continents, visited 165 countries, argued a case in front of the United States and Wisconsin Supreme Courts, and played at an early incarnation of Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI with his band "The Coachman."

An amazing father and terrible golfer, Joseph Kenneth Kuemmel passed away on Dec. 2, 2013, while surrounded by family telling funny stories about memorable vacations.

Joe was born in San Francisco, Calif., on Mothers' Day, May 13, 1945. Although he was raised in Brookfield, by his parents Kenneth and Betty Kuemmel, something about California always stayed in his blood and he wrote and sang many songs about his birthplace. Graduating from Marquette University's Business School with a major in finance, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School with a Juris Doctor Degree, Joe spent the majority of his career running his own law practice. He found meaning in his work and loved his job. Lovingly referred to as an "ethical shark" or "the bulldog," he practiced criminal law in ten different states, both in State and Federal Courts. He had an abiding respect for the law and worked at his law practice up until his recent illness forced him to retire.

While in law school, he met the love of his life at the UW-Catholic Center while playing the guitar Mass. Shari and Joe were married in 1970, and raised three boys. Joe was most proud of his family and taught his children to be smart, compassionate and ethical. To friends, he was known for his jolly laugh, numerous stories, and throwing the kind of Super Bowl party where you had so much fun you only bothered to check the game to see if you were winning the Blind Pool. His party mix recipe was legendary and he bled green and gold every Sunday. He loved collecting things and his mother-in-law once remarked that Joe "didn't have hobbies, only full-blown obsessions." Joe loved his dogs, spaghetti westerns, reading about history, and travelling the world with his wife. He hated the 9-foot artificial Christmas tree his family decorated every year. On his deathbed, Joe threatened to remove the tree under cover of nightfall and bury it in the woods across the street.

Always willing to help friends and family, Joe was often relied on by many for assistance and advice. Rarely did he give poor advice about a situation whether it involved love, work, law, life or philosophy. He never asked for anything in return but a "thank you." Joe once went to great lengths to replace a favorite stuffed animal his 5-year-old son lost at a grocery store. An accomplished guitar player, Joe reunited with bandmates, Daniel C. Kuemmel and Pete Holzhauer, in The Coachmen in recent years. The band continued to record albums and play concerts until his death.

Joe is survived by his wife of 43 years, Shari; sons, Dan (Lori), Mike (Sarah), and Kevin (Amy); grandchildren Claire, Charlie, Fitz, and Lexi; brothers, Dan, Ted, and Tom; sister, Mary; and his mother, Betty. They all miss him terribly, but will never forget him or the amazing life he led.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at ST. MARIA GORETTI CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5313 Flad Ave. Madison, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, with Monsignor Michael Burke presiding. Look for Joe's beloved Yellow Corvette double-parked out front. Visitation will be held at GUNDERSON FITCHBURG FUNERAL HOME, 2950 Chapel Valley Rd., Fitchburg, from 4 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, as well as from 10 a.m. until the time of service at the church on Saturday.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the McFarland Education Foundation, 5103 Farwell, McFarland, WI 53558; St. Maria Goretti, 5313 Flad Ave., Madison, WI 53711; and Margaret DeSmet/Safe Haven Bichons, 2577 Hwy H, Barneveld, WI 53507.

Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson Fitchburg
Funeral & Cremation Care
2950 Chapel Valley Road

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