Peter A. “Pete” Esser

Peter (Pete) A. Esser, age 90, of Platteville, Wisconsin, completed his earthly journey on April 13, 2021, at Edenbrook of Platteville, surrounded by his loving family.  To honor Peter’s life, a private family service is being held.  The Tri-State Cremation Center is serving Peter’s family.

Pete was born on February 1, 1931, in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, to Peter and Lucille (Wiederhold) Esser.  He grew up in Potosi and even as a child was often found exploring the Mississippi River. He developed a love of nature and wildlife, and at the same time excelled at school and sports. In 1951, Pete married his soul-mate, Mary Leeser, and he also began his tour in the Korean War with the U.S. Army, where he quickly earned the rank of sergeant.  He honorably served his country before returning home to begin his life journey with Mary faithfully at his side.  He pursued a career in Education and eventually received his Master’s degree from U.W. Madison. He served in several school districts, including one in North Bend, Oregon. He pivoted to working in industry and began his career primarily in the quality control sector for the remainder of his work life. Along the way and into retirement, he pursued his many interests and is the founder of the Wisconsin River Race in Muscoda Wisconsin which has continued for 54 years. He had an adventurous spirit and loved, to fish, hunt, travel, hike, paddle and kayak, and especially loved the West. He was on the last leg of his journey to become a pilot when a heart attack derailed this ambition. He was a master storyteller and regaled his friends and family with yarns about his misadventures and the colorful characters he knew from Potosi and met along the path of his life. He retired in Platteville, where he and Mary became part of a wonderful, caring neighborhood where everyone looks out for and helps one another. There, he joined Trout Unlimited and directed his energy toward volunteering, making significant contributions to stream restoration, and developing strong friendships along the way. During this time, he experienced the greatest joy of his life by welcoming his grandchildren into his life.

Pete was truly a Renaissance man and was a lifelong learner, and loved to read and analyze contemporary and historical books until the end of his life. He inspired his children and grandchildren – he excelled at woodworking and inspired his son to pursue this hobby and create master works, especially in the Mission style; he inspired the love of dogs, starting with his hunting beagles, that have led all his children and grandchildren to rescue and love a motley crew of castaway dogs; and he inspired in them a love of nature and the outdoors, and a commitment to environmental causes. In everything from bicycling to canoe racing, to motorcycles to intellectual pursuits, he sparked these interests in others.

He contributed meaningfully to his community in many ways – he compiled a booklet about the history of Point in Potosi and spent a summer volunteering on one of the Apostle Islands. His spirit of adventure has left a legacy of funny stories and beautiful memories for us to embrace in the difficult days ahead.  Our hearts bear a heavy weight today at the mere thought of losing Pete from our daily lives, but we trust and pray that the Lord will keep him in perfect peace until we meet again.  Thank you, Pete, husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, colleague – for teaching us to enjoy every day – and may we carry your legacy of service forward with grateful hearts.      

Those left behind to cherish the memory of Peter include his adored bride of almost 70 years, Mary Esser, Platteville, Wisconsin; his 3 children, Cathy Esser, Galena, Illinois; Peter (Lisa) Esser, Boscobel, Wisconsin; and Sara (Tim) Hahn, Clinton, Wisconsin; his 4 grandchildren, Claire Hahn, Emma Hahn, Tess Hahn, and Thad Hahn; his siblings, Julie Esser, Potosi, Wisconsin, and Ronnie Esser, Potosi, Wisconsin; along with numerous extended family, friends, and neighbors. Peter was preceded in death by his parents.

Peter’s family would like to thank the nurses and staff at Edenbrook, and St. Croix Hospice for all of their compassionate and professional care of Pete and his family.

Online condolences may be shared with Peter’s family at


To honor Peter’s life, a private family service is being held.

5 comments on “Peter A. “Pete” Esser
  1. P.J. Leeser says:

    Aunt Mary et. al.
    Our deepest sympathies and sincerest condolences in the loss of Uncle Pete. The world is a better place for having had him in it and he will be missed. We really enjoyed the short visit a few years ago when we brought our Father back to his hometown of Potosi. Love P.J., Linda, et. al.

    • Cathy Esser says:

      Thanks to you and your family, P.J.! We appreciate your kind words and thoughts – yes, he will be missed, but it is good to know others honor his memory. I miss your father and mother, too.

  2. What a wonderful tribute to a good man! Please accept our deepest sympathy. I have good memories of spending time with Cathy while the family was residing in Potosi. The community appreciates how the Esser family legacy has benefited us all. Sympathy and hugs to our former neighbor, Julie. We’ll keep you all in our prayers.

  3. Cathy Esser says:

    Thanks, Deb! My entire family and I appreciate your kind words of appreciation honoring my father’s memory. I still cherish memories of our friendship – and of Potosi – and it was good to see you more recently. Hope you are doing well…

  4. John "Dick" Schaefer says:

    Ronnie & family,
    Sorry to see that “Little Pete” died. Your folks and my folks (Vic & Anita), were very good friends and often partied together. They never really leave us because we have the good memories from the past. We would go to “Big” Pete’s drug store and read comics – then he started charging .30 cents for a half to read at the store. I have many memories of them – good time 50’s when the town would turn out on Friday and Saturday night to see a movie sponsored by the business men, or take dance lessons in the old gym. I thinks it was next to Connie’s K Bar. Fun times!

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