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Jeffrey E. Tieze, a calm, consistent presence who quietly touched the lives of every family member, friend, colleague, and fishing partner he ever had, Jeffrey E. Tieze, ‘Otter’ to those who knew him best, passed away unexpectedly on May 16th while at his favorite place on earth: the water.
Born and raised in Sturtevant, Wis., Tieze was a 1975 graduate of J.I. Case High School. And if the tales shared in the dive bars, ice shanties, and hunting cabins across Wisconsin are any indication, Otter enjoyed an impressive amount of fun during the early 70's.
However, there are glory days, and then there are glory days.
On May 22nd, 1982, Jeff took the hand of Barbara Henderson, the woman who, for nearly forty years, would be his lifelong companion and best friend. Together they spent their time both up north at their Wautoma cabin and in a cozy house in Sturtevant...or so rumor has it. Jeff's seven brothers-in-law never missed an opportunity to playfully jab Barb and Jeff' for their impressive reluctance in hosting the always boisterous Henderson family gatherings.
While he enjoyed a long career at Wisconsin Specialist Inc. and was an exemplary employee – hardworking, trustworthy, dependable – Jeff lived for the opportunities that came when he clocked out and returned to his natural habitat. To call him a skilled outdoorsman doesn't even begin to bait the hook. Whether strategically planting a food plot and taking a white tail with his bow, or working a stubborn bass in deep, weedy water, Otter was a savant, his acumen applicable to any kind of terrain and game. However, it was on the water where his talent transformed into art. So sublime was his skill that, for decades, he fished professionally, traveling the country to compete in one Bass Masters tournament after another, his cabin in Wautoma becoming a storage area for the hundred-plus trophies he won.
Jeff was much more than a talented bass fisherman…he was a master and probably caught more fish during his life than you could ever eat in a lifetime of Friday fish fry’s. And he would almost always throw them back with the hope of catching them again but only bigger and during one of his local tournaments!
Storage, not staging.
For herein lies a small, but important detail when understanding Jeff's character. He was humble and reserved, concise with his words, more comfortable listening and observing from the periphery than being the center of attention. (This, of course, could change if his mood was right and the Keystone Light was cold.) So the trophies stayed in their cardboard boxes and Jeff stayed quiet about his accolades. So quiet, in fact, that even his closest buddies – Bubba, Tater, and Skippy – were mostly unaware of a late 80's Journal Times article discovered after Otter's passing. In it, the author writes about the intense, 25-tournaments-per year schedule Jeff used to fish in the 70's and 80's. He writes about the impressive prizes he almost always won. He writes about the attributes that made him such a remarkable angler. Patience. Practice. Commitment.
"Time on the water," said Jeff. "That's the most important thing."
Jeff also had a big heart, as he would look for opportunities to help others without being asked. Whether it was mowing someone’s grass, plowing someone’s driveway, or just attending a youth fundraiser, Jeff was a blessing to others and always willing to help someone with a need.
Jeff was preceded in death by his parents Alfred and Lois Tieze; father-in-law, Alvin Henderson; and grandparents, Raymond and June Weier.
He is survived by countless people who adored him and will miss him forever, including Barb and their mutt terrier, Shelbie; brother, Joe Tieze; sister, Pam Arents; mother-in-law, Janet Henderson; brothers-in-law, Bill (Mary), Jim (Lori), John (Bev), David (Diane), Duane (Ann), Al, and Terry Henderson; several nieces, nephews, and cousins; and Barb and Jeff's special friends from "The Compound" in Wautoma, Pete (Bubba) and Sue Knipp, Greg (Tater) and Linda Tait, and Gregg (Skippy) and Lois Gerstmeyer and second mother: Jean Root.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests online donations at everloved.com/life-of/jeffrey-tieze/ for a memorial to one of his favorite causes. A special celebration of Jeff’s life will be held on Saturday, July 23rd, 2022 from 1 to 5 pm at Dakota Town Hall at N1470 State Road 22 in Wautoma, WI. Friends and family are invited with lunch and beverages being served.
Saturday, July 23, 2022
1:00 - 5:00pm (Central time)
Dakota Town Hall
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