Nick “The Bear” Kinziger, 76, was unexpectedly called to his heavenly home in the early morning hours of March 20, 2020 with his wife Peg by his side. Battling a few health issues over the past few years, Nick was working really hard to turn his health around.
Born on December 16, 1943, he was the first born of eight children to Alfred and Marion (Maloney) Kinziger. In his early years, Nick attended and graduated from Coleman High School. He helped with the family business at Kinziger Meat Lockers in Pound while pursuing quite an illustrious high school football and wrestling career. As a Junior he qualified to compete at State in the 180 pound division. It was in those days that he earned his nickname given to him by his famed wrestling coach Jim Douglas. He thought it appropriate that nick be ‘knighted’ with a title of several names, thus Nicholas George Murray Butler Kinziger Esquire Jr. The Bear was born.
When a Crivitz area dairy farmer Norbert Doyle discovered a black bear was crashing through his corn field at night, devouring nearly mature corn cobs, he asked Nick and his brothers to rid him of the nocturnal pest. One evening, on a moonless night, Nick set up in the field while his brothers created a noisy diversion, driving the bear toward Nick. In total darkness, Nick heard the beast approach and when it loomed in front of him, barely visible in the dark, Nick fired, killing the bear. Coleman High School wrestling coach Jim Douglas learned of Nick’s adventure and nicknamed him Nick “The Bear”. The media picked up on Kinziger's exploit and nickname and ran with it when reporting Coleman weekly wrestling results.
Nick went on to teachers college earning his Bachelors of Science and Masters degree from UW-Oshkosh. On December 28, 1963, he married Dorothy Mae O’Brien of Amberg. They had one daughter, Nikkie Lee. Nick and Dodie lived just north of Lena during their married years where they had Nik-A-Doo Farm. They were quite active in raising show and race horses along with a few show dogs. Bear spent his first two years teaching in the Goodman School District and then took a job teaching Science/Chemistry at Oconto Falls Washington Middle School where he spent the next 33 years. There, Nick resurrected the wrestling program that Oconto Falls now has today where he coached them to many titles and state champions. Nick retired in 1999 and a year ago he was inducted into the Panther Area Wrestling Hall of Fame. It is an honor he still couldn’t believe was bestowed upon him.
After his retirement, Bear had ample opportunity to take advantage of the many things he enjoyed to doing. A passion for the outdoors, he was an avid fisherman, hunter and snowmobiler, and in his earlier days Nick enjoyed golfing and riding his motorcycle. Currently his love was watching his ‘Judge’ shows, telling Alexa to play something, morning breakfasts with the boys club at the restaurant and most of all spending time with his buddies, brothers, and nephews at the cabin. Any day on the water/ice was a good day to him. He loved going to his daughters home to play with her puppies. One wouldn’t know it, but Nick was a great cook and he had an amazing singing voice. Bear was an avid Packer and Brewers fan, but wrestling never left his blood. He was very happy to see his great nephew John win third place in his state title bout just a couple of weeks ago.
On November 2, 2002 Nick married the love of his life, Margaret (Peg) Winters from Phelps where she owned Sand Lake Pub and Wintersland Storage. Upon marrying Nick, they lived in Crivitz on Left Foot Lake with his loving dogs Lacey and Gidget (and Moose, Liza Dootlittle and Budman who have previously passed). There he was able to just walk across the lake to fish. He took great enjoyment out of watching the deer and birds come into his yard where he could watch them closely from his man cave. In that man cave, Nick ran several side business in his spare time. He wasn’t happy if he wasn’t talking to someone on the phone. His beautiful smile would brighten any room. For as much as Nick was a conversationalist, he was ‘journalist’. He has kept a daily diary for over 41 years. There’s not a date, time or incident that he didn’t write down if it was important to him. So dedicated to this lifelong passion, he even journaled when he was on his fishing and hunting trips.
Surviving are his loving wife Peg Winters-Kinziger, his daughter Nikkie, brothers Pat (Joanne), Fred, (Shirley) Shirley Kinziger (Colin), Ann Cornelius (Paul), Kathy Gilbertson (Jim), Kristy Baenen (Wayne), Michelle Schounard (Mike), his godsons Nick Gilbertson and Seth Shounard, and his many nieces/nephews, other relatives, and his dear friends past and present Darryl Vandriesse, Fred Carlson, Dan Rhodes, Jim (Pug) Douglas, Mike Krause, Gerry Krause, Russell Martens, Bob Koenig, Jack Magnin, Mike Kaczmarek, Dan Stodola, Dan Bieber, Craig Gilbertson, Nick Skolsky, Jerry Polzin, Jerry Martens, Chuck Kesul, Frank Maleski, Jim White and the many, many others.
Preceding him in death are his parents, Alfred and Marion Kinziger, his youngest brother Colin, brother in law Paul, and nephew Christopher.
The family will receive relatives and friends at St. Ann Catholic Church, Coleman from 9:00 until 11:45 a.m. Saturday, September 12, 2020. A Memorial Mass will be held at 12 noon Saturday in the church with the Rev. Fr. Luke Ferris officiating. The Mass will be live streamed at https://www.facebook.com/AckermanFuneralDirectors/live. The Bear was a man of leisure, so please feel free to wear casual attire. Any funds will be given to the PAWS (Panther Area Wrestlers) a club that was close to Nick’s heart. Please visit “In Memory of Nick the Bear Memorial” page on Facebook to make comments, leave stories, or upload photos.
Condolences may be expressed and photo tributes viewed at www.ackermancares.com.
Ackerman Funeral Directors & Cremation Service of Grand Mound, Iowa, is assisting the family. Raymond B. Ackerman, Jr. Funeral Director (800) 278-1134
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