The Tomah community lost one of its most dedicated community leaders last week. Donald D. Kortbein, age 84, passed away Feb. 12 at the Serenity House in Tomah.
Kortbein was a lifelong resident of the Tomah area. He was born on his family’s farm on March 27, 1935, to William and Elvira Kortbein and graduated from Tomah High School in 1952 when he began working as a teller at Farmers & Merchants Bank.
After 48 years, Kortbein retired from F&M Bank in 2000 as president/CEO.
Anyone who knew Kortbein, knew he was very community-minded, serving on many local and state banking organizations and committees over the years including the Monroe County Ag Society Board for nearly 60 years. In 1976, he was instrumental in starting the Budweiser Dairyland Super National Truck and Tractor Pull, which continues to this day.
After so many years of hard work and volunteering his time and the time of his family, Kortbein was inducted into the Wisconsin Association of Fairs Hall of Fame in 2010.
He served on the Tomah Chamber of Commerce as a board member and president. He received the Chamber’s Community Service Award and its Distinguished Service Award as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tomah Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Kortbein also served on the Handishop Board of Directors as president, the hospital board of directors, the hospital foundation board, the Tomah Recreation Park Board and the Oak Grove Cemetery Board. He was a member of St. Matthew Lutheran Church of Warrens where he worked on the church council and helped get a new church built.
Kortbein was also recognized by the Tomah Lions Club for his contributions and service to the agricultural community.
He loved living on the Kortbein family farm with his wife of 62 years, Evelyn, children Suzanne and Tim, daughter-in-law Joan, and grandsons Matt and Mark. Kortbein passed on his love of agriculture to his son and grandsons who continue to operate their family farm.
Funeral services for Kortbein were held on Saturday, Feb. 15 at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church and he was laid to rest at Oak Grove Cemetery.