With regret, the WPI/NTPA office must report the passing on Wednesday, February 12 of Donald D. Kortbein, 85, of Tomah, Wisconsin. Mr. Kortbein was a co-founder of the Budweiser Dairyland Super Nationals and a longtime member of the Monroe County Agricultural Society, the event's promotional group since its inception.
Having started at the Farmers & Merchants Bank in Tomah right after his graduation from high school, Mr. Kortbein retired as its CEO and President in 2000 after a 48-year career. In addition to several professional organizations and community boards, he served the Monroe County Ag Society for nearly 60 years---40 years as its treasurer---and as co-chairman of its signature tractor pulling event.
Mr. Kortbein was a friend to many in both the Tomah Tractor Pull and NTPA families. "Don and I have been good friends for the last 50 years," said Dave Schreier, retired President and CEO of WPI and a fellow co-founder of the Dairyland Nationals. "Don was totally dedicated from the very beginning to making the Tomah tractor pull what it has been for 45 years! He will be greatly missed, not only by the Ag Society and pull staff but also the whole Tomah community."
A 2010 Wisconsin Association of Fairs Hall of Fame inductee, Mr. Kortbein served the Tomah Chamber of Commerce as its president and received the Chamber's Community Service Award and its Distinguished Service Award. He was recognized by the Tomah Convention and Visitors Bureau and Lions, respectively, for his contributions to Tomah's agriculture and travel industries, and he worked tirelessly to get a new building constructed for his home church, St. Matthew's Lutheran of Warrens.
He is survived by his loving wife Evelyn, daughter Suzanne, son Tim, daughter-in-law Joan, grandsons Matthew and Mark, nephew Greg, niece Cynthia (Rick) Erdman, sister-in-law Judi Downing, brother-in-law Lynn (Yvonne) LaFlash, and many other relatives and friends.
We extend our sympathy to Evelyn, to the Kortbeins, and to our friends in Monroe County.