University of Wisconsin–Madison

Wisconsin Geospatial News

Hugh Harper has passed away

It is with sadness to report Hugh Harper from Vernon County passed away on July 10, 2019 at his rural Readstown home, after a long and hard fought battle with liver disease.

Hugh was a one-of-a-kind type of guy who didn’t hesitate to speak his mind. He had a knack for stirring the pot, sometimes I think he enjoyed doing it to see what reactions he’d get. I remember serving on the Wisconsin Land Information Association’s (WLIA) Board of Directors with Hugh back in the late 90’s and there was never a dull moment.

Here are some thoughts about Hugh from Jeff Hastings, a former Vernon County Land Conservationist:

Hugh was on the Vernon County Land Information Committee from its inception in Feb of 1994 until the present.  Hugh was one of the primary individuals who initially helped the decision makers in Vernon County become aware of the Land Information Program and finally convince them to participate in the program.  I am guessing that his service of 25 years on the Vernon County Land Information Committee/Council is probably one of the longest terms of service on a County Land Information Committee in the State.  During my work for the County, which started in 2008, Hugh was always that committee member that was always in support of our Land Record Modernization Efforts and was helpful in using his WLIA experience to discuss and gain support from the County Board members serving on the committee who were less knowledgeable of the WLIP and often less supportive of investing funding for modernization efforts.  While he was never a County Board Supervisor himself – his participation, experience, and interest in serving on the committee was a “Huge” asset to Vernon County over all of these years.  As many of us know Hugh was quite a character, and his stories/comments/jokes also often brought a level of levity to committee meetings that helped make them more than just a boring & stale business meeting.  I believe he will be truly missed by all of us who have been involved with the Vernon County Land Information Council.

Here are some excerpts from his obituary…

Hugh was born in Brown’s Valley, near Mindoro.  “Butch” as he was nicknamed by his Dad, was an active farm kid getting up to lots of mischief with his cousins and sisters. He grew up strong enough to survive polio and appendicitis at age 13, although he was left with a permanent and distinctive limp. Hugh graduated Melrose High, and earned an associate degree in drafting, from Wausau Technical Institute.  After working for Wick Homes and Mormon feeds, Hugh desperately wanted to return to farm life. He and and his wife Geri purchased a beautiful hilltop farm near Readstown. “Kickapoo Beans and Greens” sold a variety of produce. Hugh enjoyed being a “gentleman” farmer, raising pigs, goats, chickens and several thousand “head” of red worms for compost, and sharing the farm with several generations of much loved dogs and cats. He was passionate about republican politics, sustainable land use and conservation. He was actively involved with the Wisconsin Land Information Association, the Wisconsin Towns Association, writing block grants for several Wisconsin townships, and assessing for many local townships. “Uncle Butch,” enjoyed the fine art of pottering around the farm, studying the Harper family history, hunting, fishing, a good game of cribbage and cheering for/cursing at the Green Bay Packers.

Hugh will be greatly missed.