Steve M. Hahnke of Manitowoc, Wis,, died peacefully surrounded by his wife and children on Thursday, June 6, 2013, secure in the knowledge of Jesus Christ his Savior.
Steve was born and baptized into God's Kingdom in Platteville, Colo., on Dec. 6, 1949, the son of Evelyn (Pomerenke) Hahnke and the late Rev. Lloyd Hahnke. He was later confirmed in his faith at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in New Ulm. He graduated from Dr. Martin Luther College in 1974 and entered the public ministry as a teacher.
Steve married Ruth Ungrodt on July 20, 1974, at Zion Lutheran Church in Rhinelander, Wis. Steve was assigned to teach 5th-6th grades at St. Marcus Lutheran Grade School in Milwaukee. In 1979 he accepted a call to teach 7th grade at Immanuel Lutheran Grade School in Manitowoc. After a few years of working outside of the ministry, he took a call to East Twin Lutheran Grade School in Mishicot, teaching upper grades. In 2007 Steve accepted a call to teach German and Religion at Manitowoc Lutheran High School, where he worked faithfully until his death.
A devout Christian, Steve was a faithful and active member of St. John's Ev. Lutheran Church in the Town of Gibson. With Ruth by his side, Steve was also a faithful leader of his household, where he raised four children, who then multiplied into 15 active grandchildren. He was also host father for several international children along the way. Steve established and led a Christian 12-step program; as a sponsor, he helped many to overcome addictions while pointing them to their Savior. At school, "Mr. H" was a beloved teacher, coach, and mentor, working tirelessly for his students and faculty members. As a football, basketball, wrestling (and more) coach, Steve transmitted his love of sports across several generations. Everyone who knew Steve loved his genuine, warm smile, his inviting personality and his big bear hugs. His strong Christian faith was evident to everyone he met.
Steve also had a deep love for God's wonderful creation; to get away from it all, he would often venture into the woods and out on the lake, not coming home until he had a full basket of fish, a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, or enough venison to fill the freezer. Active in the Wisconsin Deerhunters Inc., he won enough firearms to equip a small army. Steve also had a penchant for fireworks, and, just like his jokes, there was always "just one more."
Steve is survived by his wife of 38 years: Ruth, Manitowoc; and his four children: Seth and Jody Hahnke, Appleton, Wis.; Emily and Bill Heiges, Appleton; Melissa and Jonathan Martens, St. Paul; and Sarah and John Behrens, Appleton; his 15 grandchildren: Leyna, Adeline, Margaret, and Samuel Hahnke; Liam, Gabe, Braden, and Weston Heiges; Isaiah, Diego, Greta, and Dashiell Martens; Jonah, Ella, and (#15) Behrens. He is further survived by his mother: Evelyn Hahnke, New Ulm; two brothers and sisters-in-law, Donald (Shirleen) Hahnke and David (Annette) Hahnke; two sisters and brothers-in-law, Maribeth (Gary) Wong and Karilynn (Robert) Barthels; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Rev. Lloyd Hahnke.
The funeral service will be held on Thursday, June 13, at 2 p.m., in the gymnasium at Manitowoc Lutheran High School, 4045 Lancer Circle, with Rev.'s Tim Lindloff and Don Frelitz officiating. The family will greet relatives and friends from 9 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. A committal service will be held following the funeral at St. John's Lutheran Church in the Town of Gibson. The Reinbold & Pfeffer Family Funeral Home of Manitowoc is serving the Hahnke family. Online condolences may be expressed at www.jensreinboldandpfeffer.com
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established for Manitowoc Lutheran High School Tuition Assistance and St. John's Lutheran Church in Gibson. Though his death leaves a hole in our lives, we know that Steve would encourage all of us to, in the words of Paul the Apostle, "Stand firm Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (I Cor. 15:58).
Steve's family would like to thank the hospital staff at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay and Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee for their compassionate care over the last month. The family also wants to thank everyone for their encouraging thoughts and prayers. As Steve would always say, "The Lord bless and keep you."