Gary R. Fichtinger

Gary R Fichtinger, age 71, of Hazel Green, WI, died peacefully on March 7, 2022, in his home surrounded by his loving family.  To honor Gary’s life, his Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, June 9, 2022, from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m., in the River Front Pavilion at Eagle Point Park, 2601 Shiras Avenue in Dubuque, IA.

Gary was born in Sauk Centre, MN, on January 28, 1951, the first child of Ralph and Marcella (Sand) Fichtinger.  He enjoyed growing up on a dairy farm with his siblings that followed, Pat, Gayle, and Mark. One of his greatest thrills was tinkering with and building gadgets from the scrap metal and old machine parts he found around the farmstead. In his high school years, he became interested in cars and car engines. To the amazement of friends and family, he managed to completely restore a 1950 Ford.  When it was time to paint the car, the only color available on the farm was John Deere green (so fitting!). His interest in engines and mechanics led him to enroll at St. Cloud State University to study engineering, eventually completing his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. 

After being hired by John Deere, Gary, wife, Ann (Ohmann), and young son, Michael, moved to Dubuque in 1974. He enthusiastically began work on the forestry line, designing components for log skidders.  He was a talented and well-respected engineer, colleague, and friend to many at John Deere. 

In 1976, the growing family moved across the river to Wisconsin with a new son, Paul, and twins, Leah and David, on the way.  They purchased a 5-acre wooded lot and started building a self-designed geodesic dome house.  Gary spent nearly two decades building the dome with everyone in the family spending evenings, weekends, and summer breaks pitching in. 

In 1999, Gary had an opportunity for a work assignment in Germany, helping to design a new machine for Deere.  He and Ann moved to Jaegersburg, where they lived for two years enjoying the German culture and traveling around Europe with their dogs, Schatzi and Woody.

Gary retired from John Deere in 2012 and turned his focus to the many projects he had dreamed of over the years.  He and Ann purchased his great aunt and uncle’s house which was part of the original Fichtinger homestead farm near New Munich, MN.  The old farmhouse needed a lot of remodeling work to bring it back to life, which Gary dove into with enthusiasm. 

Gary’s favorite pastimes were fishing and camping. He always looked forward to the annual Boundary Waters trip which he and his sons, and later grandkids, would take.  He loved getting away in the wilderness, catching and frying fish, and laying out under the stars.

Gary loved learning new things, including baking. He mastered a recipe of no-knead bread that is fondly called “Opa Bread” by his family and “Gary Bread” by his friends.

Gary had a passion for life, talking shop, solving problems (often other people’s), and having a good laugh at the end of the day.  He will be deeply missed by his loving family and many friends, for whom life has grown dimmer with his passing.  We love you Gary, Dad, and Opa!

Gary is survived by his loving wife, Ann Fichtinger, Hazel Green, WI; his children, Michael (Yuka Ueda of Osaka, Japan) Fichtinger, Hazel Green, WI, Paul (Jessica Montez) Fichtinger, Fall River, WI, David (Melissa) Fichtinger, Rochester, MN, and Leah (Orel Stringa) Fichtinger, Pleasanton, CA; his grandchildren, Maria, Raymond and Greta Fichtinger, Nora, Ana, and Genc Stringa, and Franklin Fichtinger; his siblings, Patricia (Gordon) Gillesby, Andover, MN, Gayle (Paul Lafreniere) Fichtinger, New London, NH, and Mark (Michelle Levinski) Fichtinger, Glenside, PA; along with numerous extended family, friends, and neighbors.

Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Marcella Fichtinger.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Lustgarten Pancreatic Cancer research foundation.!/donation/checkout

Gary’s family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the nurses and staff at Hospice of Dubuque.

Online condolences for Gary’s family may be left at

Celebration of Life

River Front Pavilion, Eagle Point Park
2601 Shiras Avenue, Dubuque, Iowa, 52001
June 9th, 2022 from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM

16 comments on “Gary R. Fichtinger
  1. Tom Frieburger says:

    I worked with Gary in the Forestry drive train group until I was transferred to the John Deere Harvester (Combines and other S.P. machines) Power Group in 1980. I want to tell Ann and his family how sorry I am for his passing. I have always had the greatest regard and respect for his work and integrity. He worked well with all people and always had great love for his family. My thoughts and prayers go to you all.

  2. Catherine Green says:

    Gary was a fine person.

  3. Sherry Maas says:

    The bit I got to know Gary (meeting thru Jim Meder) I could tell he was a person who lived life well and to the fullest. He exuded an air of contemplativeness and thoughtfulness.
    He was an example of what we can all strive to follow.
    He will surely be remembered with much love and missed by many.
    Sincere condolences.

  4. Ron and Audrey Wiegman says:

    We are very saddened to see of Gary’s passing. You could not find a more caring and better person. Knew Gary primarily from John Deere, he leaves a work legacy as one of the great Forestry product design engineers. He will be missed by all that knew him. Our sincere condolences to the entire Fichtinger families.

  5. Mac Klingler says:

    Dear Ann and family, we have been following Gary’s courageous fight from afar in CA and feel the sorrow of his passing. Gary was a valued and respected colleague as witnessed by your assignment at Zweibruken. Gary learned so many skills and pursued so many interests, filling his too short life with joy for himself and for those around him. Know that his memory and his worth as a human being will remain with us all for the rest of our lives.

  6. Mary Becker says:

    What a well-lived life he had, with such outstanding accomplishments, and so loved by so many! So many special memories for all! A special Angel ❤️ 🙏🏻

  7. Christian Henk says:

    I met Gary, Ann and their two dogs in 1999 when they came to Germany and lived in my house.
    He was one of the nicest and most lovable people I have ever met.
    R.I.P. Gary

  8. Tom Raschke says:

    My sympathy to Ann and her family on their loss of Gary. I remember Gary using his tractor to pull my car out of the mud after I drove off the road near a hillside. He was gracious and helped me with a smile on his face. After that I referred to Gary as my hero, and I remember his help and his smile even though this occurred about 25 or more years ago.

  9. Kurt and Denise Staiger says:

    A true gem of a man, we truly valued our time at Apoyo with Gary during our time together there.

  10. Susanne Biegaj says:

    Wir sind sehr traurig über den Tod von Gary.
    Während seines Aufenthaltes in Jägersburg haben wir ihn und Ann als liebenswerte Nachbarn kennen und schätzen gelernt. Unser Mitgefühl gilt Ann und ihrer ganzen Familie.
    Siegfried, Susanne,Julia und Lisa

  11. Jan Schultz says:

    I am so very sorry to see Gary has passed from this life. He was a great person and so very talented! I enjoyed working with him regarding his parents farm. What a tremendous loss to his friends and family!

  12. Cliff Borgerding says:

    I was a HS classmate of Gary’s. He was one of the nicest people I knew. Always friendly with a big smile on his first. Always hoped to see him at a class reunion to share life stories. Condolenced to Ann and the rest of the family. Good bye my friend may you RIP!

  13. Mary and Mark Monroe says:

    Sorry to hear about Gary’s passing.

    We are thinking of you.

  14. Yuka Ueda says:

    Dear Ann & Fichtinger family,
    I’m sorry for your big loss. Please accept my sincere sympathy.
    He was always nice & his kindness meant so much to me. I will miss him.
    Thanks, Gary Rest In Peace

  15. Doug Meyer says:

    Dear Ann and Family

    So sorry to hear about your loss and Gary’s passing. Gary was an outstanding individual. He was my first supervisor when I joined John Deere in 1992 as an engineer in log skidders. In my first years at John Deere I could not have had a better leader or mentor. He was an exceptional engineer. Over the years I would run into Gary especially at Midtown Marina where I kept a boat and he would be up working on his house boat. It was always great seeing him and I will miss his laugh. With deepest sympathy. Doug Meyer

  16. Joan Krause says:

    Sorry to hear of Gary’s death. My sincere condolences on your loss. I pray that you and your family may know God’s comfort and peace at this time and in the days ahead.

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