30 Aug 2009

Remembering a Fallen Lion

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Iowahawk pays a final tribute to a dynastic happy warrior.

“Lion of Leinenkugel” Norm Snitker, 62, Laid to Rest

La Crosse WI — Slowly filing past a green-and-gold casket festooned with cheese curds, lottery tickets, and bouquets of 6-pack rings, the city of La Crosse bid a tearful farewell this morning to Norman V. “Norm” Snitker, 62. Long heralded as the “Lion of Leinenkugel” for his relentless fight for free beer and shots at local taverns and supper clubs, Snitker succumbed to an exploding liver Tuesday evening during a late model modified heat at La Crosse Speedway’s $1 Jagermeister night.

“Norm left an amazing legacy, and an amazing bar tab,” said mourner Les Schreindl, 59. “La Crosse won’t see his likes again soon.”….

Like hundreds of other who came to pay their respects at First Presbyterian — some traveling from as far as Menomonie, Pewaukee, Ashwebenon, and Waunawacamapepee — Schreindl wiped a tear in remembrance of the fallen champion of universal alcohol rights. Many vowed to carry on his fight, but along with the heartfelt, staggering eulogies, there was a melancholy sense that the death of Norm Snitker marked the end of the Snitker welding supply dynasty that has for so long dominated public life in La Crosse County.

As tears and Jager shots flowed in the pews of First Presbyterian, there was a sense that Norman Snitker’s death brought to an end the long legacy of Snitker rule in La Crosse. Many La Crossians hold out hope that an heir apparent will emerge from the next generation of Snitkers, but the once white-hot inert gas flame of Snitker welding celebrity has seemingly flickered. LMS daughter Tiffani Snitker-Pflugelhoefer, the presumptive princess to the family barstool, cites career obligations at a Prairie du Chien Farm and Fleet, while other Snitker cousins cite obligations at local halfway houses and work-release programs.

“No matter how hard times were, me and my family have always had a Snitker to call on,” said grieving Clifford Albrechtson. “Now I’m worried where my next boilermaker is going to come from.”

Others vowed to carry on the fight, and said they would push the La Crosse city council to fund the planned $1.2 billion Norman V. Snitker memorial public Shnapps fountain.

At the packed memorial service, Pastor Ed Vos urged mourners to remember the full measure of their fallen friend.

“Whatever his endless shortcomings were as a human being, we cannot let a few DUIs, cheese entombments and arson episodes overshadow the many good things that Norm thought he did,” said Vos. “Let us all recognize that Norm stood up for what he thought was right. No matter whether it was really right or not, and no matter how blotto he was. I suppose we all have to respect a man who can maintain that kind of fierce moral clarity. And can hold his liquor like that.”

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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