Walter E. (8 Aug. 2007)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Ollech, Shliefer, Murphy
----Sources: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Wis.) 8 Aug. 2007; Front Page
Local business leader dies in fire
Walter Ollech, a long-time Clark County banker and businessman, perished in a fire on his Pine Valley farm last Friday evening.
According to Clark County Coroner Richard Schleifer, the 70-year-old Ollech apparently died after falling into a burn pit on his property. Schleifer described the pit as a ditch excavated for the purpose of burning up old boards and other construction debris from a building Ollech was demolishing.
Ollech was working on the project with the help of family members until about 5 p.m. His body was discovered after one of the family members later returned to check up on him, Schleifer said. The call to the Clark County Sheriff’s Department was received about 8 p.m. Ollech was pronounced dead at the scene.
Om Monday, Schleifer said that the cause of death has yet to be officially determined. He was still awaiting an autopsy report from Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire where Ollech’s body had been taken for examination, he said.
"There was no evidence of foul play," said Schleifer.
A native of the Milwaukee area, Ollech had been a resident of Neillsville since 1968 when he moved to Neillsville to accept a management position at the former Neillsville Bank. He would later become the bank’s president. In 1984, Ollech became president of the then-financially struggling State Bank of Withee in the Withee community of northern Clark County. He retired as president in 2006, but continued to be the revived bank’s Chairman of the Board until his death.
In other business interests, Ollech owned the Schuster-Campman Abstract and Title Company and has been one of the founding partners of Conce4rn Partnership which provides affordable apartment housing for seniors and other local citizens. Last June, the firm received an "Award of Excellence" from the USDA’s Rural Development Agency for its dedication to purpose.
Together with several other local businessmen, Ollech also worked to organize O’Neill Industries which helped bring the Neillsville foundry, and much needed jobs to the city.
City residents and officials were expressing shock and sadness on Monday at the news of Ollech’s death. Many recalled his positive influence in the community not only as a business and civic leader, but also a man of compassion.
Neillsville Mayor Diane Murphy said that when she thinks of Walter Ollech she remembers what he did for the seniors and other needy individuals needing quality housing in Neillsville, Wis.
"He did a lot for this city," she said, also recalling his public service that included serving as a member of the Neillsville Planning Commission. "He’ll be missed," said Murphy.
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