Lester J. “Jerry” Graebel, age 73, died peacefully in the presence of his family on Sunday, December 11, 2022, at TideWell Hospice in Venice, Florida. He was born May 25, 1949, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, son of the late Lester & Pauline (Huntington) Graebel. Les married Katherine “Kathy” Bennett on June 26, 1971, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Manitowoc.
Les graduated from Manitowoc Lincoln High School in 1967 and earned his Associate Degree from Manitowoc County Teachers’ College in 1970. Later that year, he started employment at Manitowoc Company Cranes Division. In 1973, he began a 4-year Journeyman Machinist Apprenticeship. Les spent the majority of his working years with Manitowoc Company, where he went on to become an Inspector and earn his Quality Assurance Certification.
Les earned his Captain’s License owning and operating ProFishinSea Charters out of Manitowoc on Lake Michigan for many years. He truly shined no matter the clientele; whether it be a bachelor party, clergy, or anything in between, his jokes and storytelling came in handy and were made suitable for his audience. Even if the fish were not biting and they might even get “skunked,” people left happy and satisfied with the experience. He shot pool in local Manitowoc leagues and competed at both the local and state level in tournaments. He was a member of both The Fraternal Order of Eagles #706 and The Elks Lodge #687 of Manitowoc. He was an avid reader and liked to play cribbage. In his retirement, Les & Kathy were able to spend time between Door County, Wisconsin and Venice, Florida. They were able to take many trips until his health took a turn in August of 2021. No matter if it was a trip to Big Lots or Costa Rica, they enjoyed spending all of their time together until the very end.
He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered for his legendary sense of humor and wit by all those who loved him. Les is survived by his loving wife, Kathy; his two children: Phil (Rachael Keller) and Emily Howe (Mike); his seven grandchildren: Grace, Noah, and Ethan Graebel, Bryce, Elly, Kate, and Jacob Howe. He is further survived by his sisters: Jackie Stojonic and Joanne (José) Rodriguez; his siblings-in-law: Anni Bennett, Sharon (Jim) Kopidlansky, Fred Benzinger, Paulette (Mike) Shallue, Bernie (Barb) Bennett, Mary (John) Wachholz, and Bobbi (Greg) Tuma. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his in-laws: Homer and Ethel (Flaim) Bennett; siblings-in-law: Dennis Bennett, David (Nancy Bonin) Bennett, DJ Bennett, Mike (Liz Nelson) Bennett, Rosie Benzinger, and John Felber.
A celebration of life will be held for Les on Sunday, April 16, 2023, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at The Venue at Union Square 702 York Street in Manitowoc. The family would like to extend a sincere and grateful thank you to the entire staff of Tidewell Hospice in Venice, Florida for all of the loving care that was given to both Les and his entire family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: The Manitowoc Symphony Orchestra; Venice, Town of Union, or Manitowoc public libraries; or Tidewell Hospice in Venice, Florida.