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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Thomas E. Behnke

Issue Date: June 27, 2019

Thomas Edward Behnke, 86, of Ontonagon, Mi., passed away Monday, June 24, 2019 at Aspirus Long Term Care in Ontonagon.

Born July 8, 1932 in Peshtigo, to Fred and Florence Behnke, he was the baby of his large family, and last surviving member of his siblings. He graduated from Peshtigo High School in 1950 where he was an outstanding football player for the Peshtigo Bulldogs and cherished his many friendships.

After graduation he served in the United States Army and then returned to Peshtigo where he met and married Jeanene Marie Picotte of Ontonagon. He worked at Badger Paper Mill and Bobs Bar in Peshtigo while starting his family. He was close to all of his siblings.

After a few years, they returned to his wife's home town of Ontonagon to raise their family and purchased the Copper Inn Bar in 1970, where he built this food and beverage business into one of Ontonagon's remembered establishments to many people. A fire took his business in 1981 and he moved his family to Florida. He then worked at ABC Liquor Stores as store manager for many years until an illness returned him back to Ontonagon where he enjoyed working at the American Legion in White Pine until retirement.

An avid Packer fan his whole life, he enjoyed watching the Packers play and also enjoyed playing cards with his extended family, cooking, and time with many friends, but especially outdoor activities in Northern Michigan with his granddaughter Ashley, where he taught her about the wildlife of the area. An activity they loved and shared in their time together.

He is survived by three children, Sandra (John) Monville, Daniel Behnke and Mike Behnke; two grandchildren; a great-grandchildren with one on the way and many nieces; nephews; cousins; sisters and brothers-in-law.

Including his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years; seven siblings, Margaret Mathy, Leonard Behnke, Ben Behnke, Hazel Dory, Mary Lou Mainhardt, Jim Behnke and Pearl Zinther; his mother-in-law, Ellen (Pops) Steed who he adored and a sister-in-law, Candy.

Family and friends were invited to a Celebration of Life at the American Legion Post in White Pine, Mi. from from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 30. Burial will be held in Peshtigo at a future date to be announced. Donations in his memory can be made to OCAP, Ontonagon County Animal Protection group or the Ontonagon Cancer Association. Cane Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Ontonagon assisted the family with arrangements.


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