Kewaunee County’s John Pagel dies in plane crash

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UPDATE

The family has released a statement,

We appreciate the outpouring of the community’s thoughts and prayers and request your respect for the privacy of the family as we wait for additional information

Included in the statement was the name of the pilot, Nathan Saari.

The family went on to say that they would keep everyone informed as information becomes known.

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Kewaunee County and much of Northeast Wisconsin is in shock after learning local businessman John Pagel passed away in a plane crash overnight in Indiana. 

Pagel was on board a Cessna 441 that was supposed to return to Green Bay Thursday evening, but the aircraft crashed in Carroll County, Indiana. Local deputies and Indiana State Police were the first on the scene.  Today the FAA and the NTSB are expected to have investigators arrive on scene.

Authorities in Indiana report all three people aboard the aircraft died in the crash. John Pagel’s son-in-law, Steve Witcpalek, was one of those aboard.  

Kewaunee County Board Chairman Robert Weidner and Administrator Scott Feldt released a statement sending their sympathies to the Pagel and Witcpalek families. They went on to say, “Few men can claim to have had a greater impact on the county, the region and indeed the nation than John Pagel, who was an unparalleled leader in his industry.”  

Pagel was a prominent figure in Kewaunee County. He was CEO of his family farm, Pagel’s Ponderosa. The farm is the largest family owned farm in Wisconsin and it employs over 100 people from the local community. Roughly 5,300 cows are milked at that facility. 

Pagel also was part owner of a local farm named Dairy Dreams, and was part of the ownership group at High Plains Ponderosa in Kansas. 

Pagel was part of a dairy cooperative called Edge, where he served as president. 

Pagel was also involved in a number of local organizations. He was a member of the Kewaunee County Board, and was a board of education member with the Kewaunee School District. 

He was a former member of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, and was involved with the Dairy Business Association.

Pagel also owned The Cannery Public Market in Downtown Green Bay, and was owner of Ron’s Wisconsin Cheese.

On top of all his accomplishments, his farm hosted thousands of school groups at Pagel’s Ponderosa and had record number turnouts for their Breakfast on the Farm.

The Kewaunee County Board statement perhaps said it best, “There is simply no replacement for what Mr. Pagel represented and what he contributed to our county and to the dairy industry. We have a lot to be thankful for because of John. He is a loved and respected man, and he will be missed by many.”

Local 5 News has long relied in John Pagel as someone who can speak to issues and developments in the area’s agriculture industry.  

Here are a few of the stories he has been a part of with Local 5: 

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