Rodney Kenneth “Topper” Sternhagen, age 75 of Kaukauna, WI passed away on August 3, 2022, holding the hand of his beloved wife after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer. He was born to Kenneth and Renita (Collar) Sternhagen on September 25, 1946. He received his Associate’s degree and worked as a pipefitter at the Kimberly Paper Mill for 37 years. Rod married the love of his life, Joan Bauer on October 4, 1969 and over the course of 52 years, they raised two wonderful children together. He enlisted in the National Guard during the time of the Vietnam War, helping to keep the United States peaceful during a time of great unrest.
Rod was a humorous man who enjoyed making people laugh whenever he could. One of his greatest loves was the cabin on the lake in Pickerel, where he spent as much time as he could hunting and fishing. Rod liked riding his snowmobile and Polaris General UTV in the woods. He was a Master Gardener and Master Canner, constantly making fantastic food. Rod was a “chick magnet” as described by his family, always somehow attracting women wherever he went. He was an inspiration to many, surviving long past his life expectancy of 6 months, making it to 8 years and always keeping a positive outlook on life no matter how bad things got during that time. Rod belonged to many organizations, including Ducks Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk, Ruffled Grouse, Dave’s Musky Club, White Tails Unlimited, the American Legion. He also spent time volunteering at the Duck’s Unlimited, the UW Extension, the Salvation Army, and Holy Cross Catholic Church. More than anything else, though, Rod was a very loving man who always had time for his family. He loved them more than anything else in the world.
Rod is preceded in death by his parents; his parents-in-law; and his siblings-in-law.
Rod is survived by his wife, Joan; his children, Rodney Jr. (Cynthia) Sternhagen and Stacy (Mike) Tomaszewski; his grandchildren, Alex Sternhagen, Cassidy Sternhagen, and Kimberly Tomaszewski; his siblings, John (Shelly) Sternhagen and Tom (Maureen) Sternhagen; as well as many other extended relatives and friends – all of whom he loved dearly.
A visitation will be held on Saturday, August 13 from 8 AM – 10 AM at Holy Cross Catholic Parish, 309 Desnoyer St, Kaukauna, WI with a funeral mass to follow at 10 AM. Rod will be laid to rest at Highland Memorial Park in Appleton, WI on the same day. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation on Rod’s behalf to Ride for Hope, Challenge the Outdoors, or the Fox Valley Vietnam Veteran’s Association.
The family would like to extend a thank-you to Rod’s numerous doctors who helped care for him over the years, the oncology department and its staff, and the Bethany Home. The family would like to extend an extra special thanks to his four nurses who fought over who got the privilege of taking care of him – your compassion and care was always appreciated.
“Fly high with the angels, Rod. We’re watching for cardinals to appear, knowing that you are near” – your loving family.