Obituary for Ronald Kenneth Espe

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Ronald Kenneth Espe, age 85, of Onalaska, Wisconsin passed away on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 at Bethany Riverside Nursing Home in La Crosse. He was born in La Crosse to Torger and Doris (Lambert) Espe on August 23, 1932. Ronald graduated from Onalaska High School in 1950, having played on the first Onalaska football team (scoring their first touchdown), and going to the State basketball tournament in 1950. While attending the University of Wisconsin for engineering, he was joined in marriage to Betty Lokken on December 19, 1953. After graduation in 1954, Ronald was commissioned into the U.S. Air force as a second lieutenant, later promoted to first lieutenant. Following his military service, Ron and family moved to Minneapolis, MN joining Minnegasco, rising to head of engineering. In 1973 he became the VP of engineering at Pennsylvania Gas and Water in Wilkes-Barre, PA. In 1978 he was hired as the VP of operations at Dayton Power & Light in Dayton, OH. In 1983, he was hired as the VP of operations at the Iowa/Illinois gas and electric company in Bettendorf, IA. Finally, in 1986 he joined the Wisconsin Natural Gas company in Kenosha, Wisconsin, retiring in 1994 as president and CEO. Ron served on the city council in Crystal, Minnesota, a Boy Scout leader, on several church councils, the Onalaska library commission, and on the Onalaska police auxiliary. When free time was found, Ron could be found enjoying a round of golf. He was proud of his Norwegian heritage, his Minnesota Vikings, and was a 32nd degree Mason. Ron is survived by his daughter; Susan (Ron) Hampel of Madison, Wisconsin; sons Dave (Laurie) Espe of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Steve (Karen) Espe of Columbus, OH, Scott (Chrissy) Espe of Johnstown, PA, Rick Espe (Paula Bell) of Columbus, OH; granddaughters Lauren (Kevin) Moennich, Julia Espe, Katie Espe, Kristen (Adam) Black, and Aimee Espe; grandsons Luke Espe, Stan Espe, Alex Espe, Erik Espe, and Michael Espe; sister-in-law Carol (Jack) Horner of Holmen and nieces (“the good Horner girls”) Kim (Bill) Braunger, Patti (Gregg) Reick, and Beth (Shaun) Gibbs. Ron was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Betty and his daughter-in-law Morgen Espe. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, July 28, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at First Lutheran Church (410 Main St., Onalaska), with Pastor Jason Stanton officiating. Visitation will take place before hand at the church from 1:00 p.m. until the time of services. Burial will follow at Onalaska cemetery with military honors provided in combination by the American legion post 336 of Onalaska and the U.S. Air Force. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choosing. The Dickinson funeral home is assisting the family with arrangements. Please visit to share online condolences.