Mitchell A. Groessl Custom Obituary
If heaven has its version of the Algoma Boat Club, we suspect Mitch Groessl is already standing behind the bar, welcoming new arrivals with a warm smile and striking up a conversation. Mitch passed away June 13, 2022, one day shy of the birthday he shared with his wife at the age of 62 after battling pancreatic cancer longer than most. He would say he was fortunate to enjoy every extra day.
A pillar of the Algoma community, Mitch was slated to be the 2022 Shanty Days Honoree later this summer. It was a well-deserved recognition that marked a lifetime of commitment to making the hometown he treasured the best place it could be.
Mitch was born June 14, 1959, at Algoma Memorial Hospital to J. Alan and the late Beth (Shaw) Groessl. He graduated from Algoma High School in 1977, where he played football, basketball and baseball, and made lifelong friendships with classmates. Mitch was the youngest of the five Groessl children.
So entrenched in the Algoma community was Mitch even as a young man that when he went to pick up a Southern Door girl for a blind date one evening, it was the first time he found himself in the position of meeting a date’s parents without them already knowing him. It was a quite the nerve-wracking experience for Mitch, but it seemed to turn out well in the end as he and the former Joan Schmelzer married on December 16, 1983, at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Sturgeon Bay.
Mitch was one of those guys who loved small-town living. He knew virtually everyone and everyone knew Mitch. His easy smile and friendly manner put everyone he met immediately at ease, and he was happy to converse about any topic, especially sports. He officiated basketball, football and baseball games, and was recognized by the WIAA for 40 years of service. He also served as the Algoma freshman football coach at one point, and was a long-time member of the football chain gang, including the 2021 season.
Family gatherings at the Boat Club centered on Mitch and his position behind the bar. He was always ready to assume his regular duties even as his health showed signs of more rapid decline just six weeks ago. Never mind the fact he had just entered at-home hospice care. There was no way Mitch was going to be anywhere but behind that bar for what he figured could be his last party.
Mitch joined the Algoma Rescue Squad in 1982 and continued to take calls until three weeks before his death. He served as captain and lieutenant of the Rescue Squad during his tenure, finally retiring as firefighter on January 1, 2020. Mitch logged almost 5,500 hours of service to the Algoma Fire and Rescue Department since records first started to be maintained in 1996. He was very proud that all three of his sons followed in his footsteps with Algoma Fire and Rescue.
During his working career, Mitch spent time at Algoma Hardwoods, Wisconsin Label, and the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department. He retired in 2013 and remained very busy. Mitch served on the Wisconsin EMS Advisory Board, Kewaunee County Emergency Government, and as deputy coroner under Dave Hudson and more recently under his own son, Rory.
Mitch was well-known for his volunteer activities, including Algoma Shanty Days, Wet Whistle Wine Fest, and multiple other community events. He was an alderperson for Algoma’s Ward 3 for two terms, was an adjunct instructor at NWTC in which he assisted with EMT classes and practical exams, and served on the Door County Medical Center Board until forced to step down due to health reasons.
Mitch and Joan enjoyed their seasonal campsite at Ahnapee Shores for more than 20 years, and he enjoyed time spent with friends and annual vacations with John and Kendra. He was a lifelong fan of the Packers, Badgers and Brewers, and enjoyed driving for Algoma Motors. More importantly, he was happy to help anyone who asked for assistance.
Surviving Mitch are his wife, Joan; sons Rory (Sarah, and children Kalynn, Lauren and Levi); Casey (Shayna, and their son Greyson); and Quinn, all of Algoma; his father, Alan, of Algoma; brothers Mike, Two Rivers; Dave (Jane), Luxemburg; Mark (Barbie), Florida; former sister-in-law Bonnie Groessl, Green Bay; father-in-law, George Schmelzer; sisters and brothers-in-law Jean (Chuck) Marsh, David (Tammy) Schmelzer, Del (Lisa) Schmelzer, Julie Schmelzer, Buck (Vicki) Schmelzer, Dean Schmelzer; cousin Lisa Schmelzer, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his mother, Beth; sister, Debbie Hareland (Gary); Casey and Shayna’s daughter, Aubree; and Joan’s mother, Barbara Schmelzer.
The family would like to thank everyone who stopped by for a visit or offered to help during Mitch’s final days. We are very appreciative, even if we didn’t take you up on the offer. We would also like to thank Dr. Robert Anderson and Dr. Kevin Mortara, and in the past couple months the Unity Hospice team led by Heather and Jenny. Any monetary donations will go toward an EMS Scholarship Fund in Algoma.
Visitation will take place from 3-8 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at Schinderle Funeral Home in Algoma and from 9-11 a.m. on Monday, June 20, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Algoma, where Mitch received all the sacraments. Mass will begin at 11 a.m., with lunch to follow in the cafeteria.
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