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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Ellsworth Richlen

Issue Date: November 7, 2019

 Ellsworth Mark Richlen was born in Iron Mountain, Mich., March 21, 1925 to Martin and Frieda Richlen.  He was the oldest of three children. His family moved to Crivitz in 1930 close to his maternal grandparents in Athelstane, where he spent much time with his Grandfather. An excellent swimmer from his time spent on the Peshtigo River, in 1941 he saved two boys from drowning in that same river.  In later years he was known to his many friends and acquaintances by his WWII nickname of "Rich" but to his family members and oldest friends he was always "Elly".

 Upon graduation from Crivitz High School in 1942, Ellsworth joined the US Navy, in which he served until 1946. While in the U.S.Navy he flew on a torpedo bomber, a TBF Avenger, as part of Naval Air Group VT 21.  He served in the Pacific theatre in the capacities of radioman, gunner, radar operator and navigator on both aircraft carriers and the island of Saipan.

 After being discharged from the Navy, he married Betty Jane Wegner of the Town of Grover.  He subsequently enrolled in Iowa State University where he received a BS degree in Agronomy in 1950 and Masters degree in Soils and Geology in 1957.  In 1951 he was inducted into Gamma Sigma Delta, a national Scholastic honor society for agriculture.  Between degrees, he worked 5 years for the Soil Conservation Service in Iowa.  His Masters work included being part of the team that developed a system of soil taxonomy that is still in use today.  In 1957 he relocated his growing family to Portland, Ore. to take a position as a Soils Scientist with the US Forest Service.  He relocated to Washington DC from 1960 to 1964.  In 1964, Ellsworth relocated to Missoula, Mont. to become the Forest Soils Regional Branch Chief.  While in Missoula, he headed up the team planning the rehabilitation of land damaged by forest fires.  He was also instrumental in the reclamation planning of strip-mined lands in eastern Montana.  He spent the remainder of his career in Missoula, retiring in 1981.

 After retirement, the couple relocated to the Town of Grover.  They traveled frequently with their motorhome on vacations from Florida to Alaska.  They also traveled to construction sites with Builders for Christ, assisting in the repair and expansion of church facilities throughout the midwest and into Canada. Ellsworth would serve as president and curator of the Crivitz-Stephenson Historical Society for 10 years.  During his tenure the Crivitz museum was expanded to include several new buildings.  Through his studies and knowledge of cartography and with his trusty metal detector, Ellsworth located multiple Indian trading posts in the area.  Using his knowledge of the area, he served as a guide for the local Audubon Society.  He laid out and marked many of the hiking trails that are part of the Harmony Woods.

 He was also a member of the Wisconsin Professional Soils Society.

 Throughout his life he was an avid photographer, hunter, hiker, camper and fisherman.

 Ellsworth married Betty Jane Richlen, nee Wegner, at St. John's Lutheran Church in 1947.  They were married for 55 years until her death in 2002.  They would raise five sons together: Mark, Scott, Craig, Brent and Troy. 

 Survivors include four sons: Mark (Delia), Scott (Debbie), Brent (Wanda), and Troy; 11 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren; and a sister, Maycel. 

He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, a brother, Martin, and his son, Craig.

 Visitation will be held Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Berth & Rosenthal Funeral Home in Peshtigo from 4 to 9 pm.  Visitation continues on Thursday, at St. John's Lutheran Church in Grover from 11 am until time of services at noon with Pastor Dan Sargent officiating.  Burial will be in St. John's Cemetery.


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