Steve Witcpalek was a family man and role model who cared about the community, friends and family said Friday.

A joint funeral service is being held Saturday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Kewaunee for Witcpalek and his father-in-law, John Pagel, who were killed in a Feb. 22 plane crash in Indiana. Thousands of people came to the visitation at Kewaunee High School on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

Steve Witcpalek

Al Paul, Witcpalek’s uncle, said his sister Jill and his nephew Steve were among the driving forces behind building Kewaunee Elementary School’s inclusive playground, which opened last summer.

“Steve helped them with bringing equipment here and labor to help the project get going, and it’s almost completed now,” Paul said.

Witcpalek, who was operations manager at Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, gathered a crew from the farm to help build and install the equipment for the playground.

The gesture reflected Witcpalek’s deciation to the community, Kewaunee School Board President Brian Vogeltanz said.

“He was a caring individual who wanted to see the school district and the community do well,” Vogeltanz said.

In lieu of flowers, a college fund has been established through Nicolet National Bank, Kewaunee, for Steve and Jamie Witcpalek’s three children.

Paul said his nephew was fun-loving, very intelligent, very gifted, and could fix anything, and above all was a good role model for his three children.

“He was very caring, he would give the shirt off his back to anybody,” Paul said. “He lived life to the fullest; he didn’t leave any stone unturned.”

“He was like America’s son-in-law, the son-in-law we all want,” Don Niles added.

(Photo: Children try out the new Kewaunee all-inclusive playground after the ribbon-cutting Aug. 30, 2017. Kewaunee County Comet file photo.)