Claude R. Benzschawel, age 87, entered into the gates of heaven on January 2, 2021. He left this earth with peace in his heart, with God, his family, and the world. Claude was a good and faithful servant, whom God smiled upon and said, “Well done”.
Claude was born on the 9th month, 25th day of 1933. These are the words he used every time that someone asked him what his birthdate was. He was born to Frank and Margaret Benzschawel on the family farm south of Thorp. Claude was the second of eight children.
He was raised on the farm, where his devoted work ethic began. He received his education in Thorp and was a lifetime member of St.Bernard church (currently St. Bernard-St. Hedwigs Parish).
After high school, he worked on the family farm with his father, earning $1.00 a week so that “he could go have some fun”. He yearned to start his own career and was grateful when his Uncle Ray Gengler came to visit his Dad and offered Claude a job to work at his Dairy. Claude drove a truck to deliver milk bottles to families during what he said was one of the coldest winters of all time. During this time, he was also called by Selective Services to sign up for the draft for the Korean war. Based on his physical, they ranked him as 1-A, and he was ready to go to service if called upon, but the call never came. He continued to work at several other places, including the Owen Canning Co., Blue Moon Cheese Factory and The Corporation in Stanley.
During this time, Claude met the love of his life, Alice Mickett, and they were wed on May 24, 1955 when he was 21 years old. By this time, Claude had decided that he wanted to start his own farm and rented a farm north of Thorp, where he started with 6 cows that he purchased from his father, gradually increasing to 21 cows. Claude and Alice also began a family during their 10 years of life on the rental farm and had four children, Keith, Randy, Karen and Brian. While working hard on that rental farm and thriving on the love of family, they lost their firstborn son Keith to cancer when he was only 6 years old.
In the mid 1960’s, they purchased a farm just south of Thorp, a mile away from where Claude was born and raised. He successfully operated a topnotch farm until March of 2001, with the help of his wife and children. Claude was a hard worker, embracing faith and endurance, attending church every Sunday. He loved his wife and family through thick and thin.
Upon retiring, Claude and Alice had a home built in Thorp. Claude declared that he absolutely did NOT miss “the girls” (cows), and enjoyed being able to sleep in. He and Alice frequently enjoyed taking rides on countryside roads, observing what farmers were working on, and then dining out at local restaurants. One of Claude’s favorite meals was anything with mashed potatoes and gravy. Many of these rides also included a stop for an ice cream cone. Claude enjoyed sharing stories of his youth right up until his death as his mind and memory were incredibly sharp, recalling details of his childhood with remarkable detail. He also loved it when he could help his son Brian (Rosanne) by sitting on a tractor and working on the farm that they own.
He will be deeply missed by his wife of 65 years, Alice Benzschawel, his children, Randy Benzschawel, Thorp, Karen (Dean) Gehri, Pittsville and Brian (Rosanne) Benzschawel, Withee; his grandchildren, Marie Benzschawel, Michael (Adrienne) Benzschawel, Adam (Kaitlan) Benzschawel, Kimberly (Kordell) Kaduce,, and Julie (Kaleb) Benzschawel. He also is the proud great-grandfather of Seamus, Sophie and Reid.
Claude is survived by his siblings Bill (Delores) Benzschawel, Frank Jr. (Nell) Benzschawel, Joan (Seamus) Clarke, Allan (Sam) Benzschawel, brother-in-laws, Vern York and Bobby Mickett, William (Millie) Mickett, sister-in-law, Beverly Benzschawel, and many wonderful nieces and nephews and their children.
He was preceded in death by his son Keith Benzschawel, his parents, Margaret and Frank Benzschawel, his parents-in-law, Bill and Mary Mickett, his siblings, Dennis Benzschawel, Diane York and Gene Benzschawel, his sister-in-laws, Nancy Mickett, Dorothy Piont and her husband Frank Piont.
Due to the Covid virus and cold weather, there is no gathering planned at this time.