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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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April 20, 2021

1/29/2021 7:30:00 AM
John Henry Priebe

John Henry Priebe, age 69, of Rhinelander, died on Jan. 21, 2021, at the Aspirus Wausau Hospital in Wausau. He was born on March 22, 1951, in Rhinelander, the son of Henry and Hettie (Badgley) Priebe.

He attended Rhinelander Catholic Central grade school, where he developed a deep, abiding sense of faith and love for God that only grew stronger throughout his life. He attended Holy Cross Seminary in LaCrosse for three years. He returned to Rhinelander to attend RHS for his senior year, and was part of the 1969 Wisconsin Valley Championship basketball team, an experience he talked about throughout his life.

After high school, he attended UW-Superior where he played basketball, met, and later married, the love of his life, Rebecca (Martinsen) Priebe.

His time at RCC, Holy Cross Seminary, RHS and UW-Superior created many lifelong friends. He talked about, laughed with, and cherished them for his entire life.

Upon graduating UW-Superior, he became a high school teacher and basketball coach in both Merrill and D.C Everest. After four years, John decided to pursue law. He obtained his law degree from UW-Madison in 1980.

John and Becky then returned to Rhinelander, where John began practicing law, first with the O'Melia Law Firm and later with Johnson, Weis, Paulson & Priebe. John was incredibly connected to Rhinelander, where he formed lifelong friendships with neighbors, colleagues and wonderful friends in the community. Being a Hodag gave him an enormous sense of pride, which he passed on to all four of his children, whom he raised in Rhinelander.

John and Becky lived in Bayfield County for a short period of time after John was appointed as the Bayfield County Judge. They returned to their home in Rhinelander shortly after his term was finished, where John continued to practice law at his private practice, Priebe Law, until his death. His family and his work were two of his greatest passions. He loved serving the Rhinelander community and cared deeply for all of his clients and the people he worked with who made his practice possible, most notably, his dedicated team, Bev, Greta and Amy.

John will be remembered as a man of incredible kindness, humor, integrity, and above all, faith in God. He was often described as a gentle giant. He loved music, laughter, poetry and spending time on Lake Tomahawk with family and friends.

He relished every moment with his grandchildren, each of whom gave him an immense sense of pride. John loved sharing with them Northwoods knowledge and lore, and they always asked to hear the tall tales that Grandpa John authored just for them.

John was an avid reader and sharer of quotes. One of his favorites summarizes his guiding principle: "The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love." -William Wordsworth

In lieu of a memorial fund, John's family asks that, if his kindness touched your life in some way, you share an act of kindness, large or small, with your community or someone in it.

John is survived by his wife Rebecca "Becky" Priebe, his daughter Ruth (Benjamin) Greiber, his sons Dustin (Kimberly) Priebe, David Priebe and Thomas (Elizabeth) Priebe, his grandchildren Bradie, Henry, Madeline, Brevin, Esme, Blair, Bayley and Rory, his sisters DiAnn Priebe-Nelson and Mary Jane Jdid, his brother Daniel (Cheryl) Priebe, nieces, nephews, other family and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and an infant sister Karen Priebe.

Private family services will be held. Interment will take place at the Wilderness Rest Cemetery in Lake Tomahawk. You may leave your private condolences at

The Carlson Funeral Home (715-369-1414) is handling the arrangements for the family.

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, January 31, 2021
Article comment by: Don Bettiga

sorry to hear of the loss of john he always said hello and chatted i ll miss seeing him sorry to the family of ur loss my sincere condolences

Posted: Friday, January 29, 2021
Article comment by: John Stefonik

RIP, John . From another member of that 1969 basketball team.

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