Road to be dedicated to highway star

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Thursday, April 18, 2013

— Jerry Himebauch spent his whole life working.

He started as a youngster on his family's dairy farm.

He ended as a Walworth County public works employee.

Himebauch died on the job July 23. He was helping chip seal a road in the town of Troy when he was struck by a dump truck.

In a ceremony at 3 p.m. today, the access road to the Walworth County Public Works complex will be named "Jerry Himebauch Drive" in his honor.

Those who know Himebauch said it's fitting that the road to his workplace will be named after him.

"He was a good man," said Jack Delaney, assistant highway superintendent. "He was always at the other end of the phone when you called."

Delaney had heard that Himebauch did exceptionally well in high school, but "all he wanted to do was drive truck."

As a younger man, Himebauch was severely injured while driving truck, said Dan Stowell, a lifelong friend.

"There were two kids on bikes in his lane, and he took the ditch instead of hitting those kids," Stowell said. "It took him a long time to recover. He had some hard times in his life."

Himebauch was a kind of older brother to Stowell. When Himebauch joined the Lyons Fire Department in 1974, so did Stowell and his brother Ronnie. Himebauch spent 37 years with the department and served as assistant chief and lieutenant.

For the past 19 years, Himebauch was a patrolman for the highway department, taking care of the roads in the northeast corner of the county, including a long and busy stretch of Interstate 43.

"That's a lot of miles in 19 years," Delaney said. "He took good care of those roads."

Himebauch used to take a week of vacation to work at the Stowell family's food stand at the Walworth County Fair.

"He loved working at the fair," Stowell said.

Himebauch's work ethic didn't mean he didn't have opinions about how fair food should be cooked.

"Jerry, he did everything medium-well," Stowell said. "If you wanted medium-rare, you got medium-well."

Delaney agreed, saying, "If Jerry had an opinion, he'd share it with you."

But he also was known for his no-strings-attached kindness.

"If you asked him, he'd help you do anything," Stowell said. "If you needed $100, he'd reach right into his wallet and give it to you, and he didn't expect it back."

Last updated: 10:24 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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