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Community icon Joe Marchese dies at 84

Former county supervisor, Lisbon firefighter

Town of Lisbon Veteran civic activist and local businessman Joseph "Joe" Marchese of Lisbon, 84, died last Wednesday, Aug. 18.

Marchese served on the Waukesha County Board for 26 years, from 1982-2008, and owned Marchese Danceland in Sussex.

He was also a charter member and volunteer firefighter with the Lisbon Fire Department, a member of the Sussex Lions Club and a past president of the Waukesha County Tavern League.

Waukesha County Board Chairman Jim Dwyer, who served with Marchese for the last 16 years of his tenure on the board and attended his funeral Monday at St. James Catholic Church in Menomonee Falls, recalled him as "always colorful" in an interview Tuesday with Lake Country Publications.

"He always had a lot of information on any topic, including a great institutional memory, and he wasn't shy about sharing it," Dwyer said. "He also had the interests of Lisbon's people at heart and spoke up for them loudly."

Lisbon Fire Chief Doug Brahm - like Marchese, one of the first 40 volunteers with the department when it was formed in 1982 - said Marchese "wanted the best for everyone.

"He was a huge advocate for the town and the Fire Department. He was very vocal and got things done for the town."

Although Marchese ran several unsuccessful campaigns for a seat on the Lisbon Town Board, "He continued to participate in town affairs and was very vocal at Town Board meetings," Brahm said in an interview Tuesday.

"He was a one-of-a-kind type of guy," Brahm added. "I never knew anyone anywhere quite like him."

Marchese was confident and a successful businessman, Brahm noted, "but he also had a soft side and a very cool attitude on life. I really enjoyed my time with him. He'll be missed."

Besides their work for the Fire Department, Marchese and Brahm had something else in common: a passion for antique and collectible cars.

While Brahm likes hotrods and an old firetruck he picked up, Marchese's passion was for old Model A Fords, made only for four years, 1928-31.

"He had all kinds of Model As and parts for them," Brahm said. "We used to help each other out with our hobby vehicles."

A more recent addition to the Fire Department, Ralph Modjeska, also worked with Marchese in the Sussex Lions Club.

"He was a true gentleman," Modjeska said in an interview Tuesday. "He was generous and kind and always treated everyone with respect."

Marchese is survived by his second wife, Marilyn (Witon); his sons, David (Sheri) and Andrew Beres; his daughter, Lisa (Scott) La Fleur; his grandchildren, Jacob, Gabrielle, Sidney and Nickolas; his brothers-in-law, Richard, Raymond (Dorothy), Rev. Russell and Robert Witon; his cousins, Marge Michaels and Betty Warneke; and other relatives and friends.

Joseph C. "Joe" Marchese

Marchese, Joseph C. "Joe" Of the Town of Lisbon, August 18, 2010, at the age of 84 years. Beloved husband of Marilyn (Witon). Loving father of David (Sheri) Beres, Lisa (Scott) La Fleur and Andrew Beres. Proud Pa Pa of Jacob, Gabrielle, Sidney and Nickolas. Dear brother-in-law of Richard, Raymond (Dorothy), Rev. Russell and Robert Witon. Fond cousin of Marge Michaels and Betty Warneke. Further survived by other relatives and friends. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, August 23, at 6:30PM, at St. James Catholic Church, W220 N6588 Town Line Rd., Menomonee Falls. Private burial St. James-Rosehill Cemetery. Visitation Monday 3PM until time of the Mass. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Sussex Hamilton High School Foundation appreciated. Joe was a member of the Sussex Lions Club, a Waukesha County Supervisor for 26 years, Past President of the Waukesha County Tavern League, volunteer member of the Town of Lisbon Fire Department, and owner of Marchese Danceland. The Marchese family would like to give a special thanks to the Vitas Hospice Group, especially to Dr. Carrie, Sarah, Debra A., Cindy and Diane and the staffing partners Debbie V. and Lucinda. Published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on August 20, 2010

Decision on SUV accident delayed - Mother demands justice after driverless vehicle seriously injured her son

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Tuesday, June 12, 2001
Author: LAURIA LYNCH-GERMAN, Journal Sentinel staff

A judge delayed action Monday in an incident in which a runaway SUV plowed into a crowd of Germantown bar patrons, after a hearing at which the mother of the most seriously hurt victim demanded justice.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Marilyn Marchese of Sussex testified before Washington County Circuit Judge David Resheske that her son, Andrew Beres, lost most of his face when he was pinned against a wall by the driverless Ford Expedition.

"I am not motivated by revenge; I don't want to see these kids go to prison," Marchese said. "I am motivated by responsibility. My son lost his face."

Resheske said he wanted to look at case law pertaining to reckless driving statutes.

"What occurred here is so incredibly tragic that it cannot help but leave an impression on those have come into contact with it," he said. "And that hopefully extends to those who may bear some responsibility."

Marchese is saddened that her son has also lost a lung and his gallbladder. She is worried about the effect years of plastic surgery will have on the 24-year-old, who is also the stepson of Waukesha County Supervisor Joe Marchese. But mostly she is angry that some people apparently didn't tell the truth about the accident that resulted in her son nearly dying.

"They have all come here to muddy the waters," she said. "They were worried about saving their own skins when my son lost his. My son's life is altered forever, and that is criminal to me."

Resheske earlier heard several days of testimony about the March accident at Tequila Boom tavern in Germantown.

The driver, Andrew Schwellinger, jumped out of the car to help a friend who appeared to be in a fight. Schwellinger was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving but no charges were filed. In testimony, witnesses gave conflicting accounts of the accident, with some saying the engine revved just before it struck the crowd.

Jessica Flemming, a passenger in the SUV, climbed over the front seat in an attempt to stop the Expedition as it hit a parked vehicle and then rammed the crowd. No one can be sure whether she inadvertently touched the gas, according to Assistant District Attorney Peter Cannon.

Resheske can recommend that either criminal charges or municipal citations be issued. Or he can agree with Cannon that there is not enough evidence to charge anyone with reckless driving.

Cannon told the judge that many of the witnesses had been less than forthcoming.

"I didn't expect a lot of cooperation from Mr. Schwellinger's friends and family," Cannon said. "But we didn't have the most cooperative of people here testifying about that night."

Some witnesses said the Expedition was going 25 mph, while police experts estimated the speed at a little more than 5 mph. Other witnesses claim to have heard the Expedition accelerate, while some say they heard nothing except the aftermath.

There were just too many discrepancies, Cannon said. "In terms of proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt, we just couldn't do it," he told the judge.

Resheske said the John Doe investigation had been a thorough attempt at gathering evidence and getting to the truth. He said he expected to issue a written decision on the case soon.

Judge rules in SUV case - Not enough evidence for criminal charges

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) - Wednesday, June 27, 2001
Author: LAURIA LYNCH-GERMAN, Journal Sentinel staff

A Washington County judge ruled Tuesday that there is not enough evidence to issue criminal charges in the case of a runaway SUV that smashed into a Germantown tavern , leaving one man seriously injured.

Circuit Judge David Resheske said the only reasonable conclusion was that the sport utility vehicle was left in gear when the driver jumped out of the vehicle but agreed in his written ruling that the district attorney would not have been able to prove anyone was driving recklessly.

Resheske earlier heard several days of testimony in a John Doe proceeding called to determine whether charges could be filed.

On March 12, the Ford Expedition slammed into the front of Tequila Boom, a bar on Mequon Road. Several people were hurt.

The most seriously injured, Andrew Beres of Sussex , spent several weeks in a hospital after being trapped between the vehicle and the building. He lost a lung and his gallbladder and will need plastic surgery to repair injuries to his head and face.

Kevin Schwellinger was arrested that night on suspicion of drunken driving.

His blood-alcohol level came back at 0.03, less than a third the limit considered proof of intoxication. Authorities have said that when he jumped out of the SUV to help a friend in a fight, he left the vehicle in gear.

Jessica Fleming was in the back seat of the SUV and felt it move, according to testimony at the John Doe. She testified that she climbed over the seat and attempted to stop the truck. It hit a parked car and then went into a crowd of patrons leaving the bar.

Resheske cleared Schwellinger of any criminal wrongdoing.

"The only reasonable conclusion is that he left the vehicle in gear when he got out," Resheske wrote. "There is no evidence that he knew the vehicle was in gear, and, in fact, he himself was struck by the vehicle. I cannot find that the conduct was criminal."

Fleming's blood-alcohol level was 0.09, and Resheske noted that was below the level of evidence of intoxication but high enough to be relevant to whether she was impaired.

He went on to say that any case against her would hinge on her ability to control a car she had never driven and what effect the first collision with a parked car had on the direction of the SUV.

"Any deviation in direction would have caused the vehicle to strike the posts outside the entrance and presumably have stopped the vehicle from entering the front of the building where Mr. Beres was standing," he wrote.

Beres' mother, Marilyn Marchese, asked the judge at the last hearing to force those involved to take responsibility for the accident that left her son near death.

In his written opinion, Resheske addressed her concerns.

"I listened with concern to (her statement) and her desire to hold someone responsible for the tragic injuries caused to her son," he said. "I would feel the same way in her position.

"While I sympathize with her feelings, I must make my findings according to the law. In this instance I must agree with the (district attorney) that the probable cause does not exist for the filing of a criminal complaint."

Assistant District Attorney Peter Cannon handled the inquiry and told the judge previously that he didn't think his office could prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Cannon said Tuesday he "respected the judge's decision."

Members of Beres' family declined to comment until they have talked with their lawyer.

Michael F. Hart, who represents the family, said that the family understood the judge's ruling but was disappointed.

"All they wanted from the beginning was for the appropriate parties to be held responsible for their conduct," Hart said.

He said there are options still available to the family.

"While the John Doe may not have produced enough probable cause for the issuance of criminal charges, they remain hopeful that the justice will be served and responsible parties will be held accountable," Hart said.

Beres is the stepson of Waukesha County Supervisor Joe Marchese.

Schwellinger declined to comment.


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