Cover photo for Louis Zastrow's Obituary
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1938 Louis 2023

Louis Zastrow

June 22, 1938 — June 12, 2023

Wausau

Louis Zastrow, 84, of Wausau, passed away Monday, June 12th at his home.

 

Louis grew up just north of Wausau and lived in the same area called Taegesville his entire life. Reno Zastrow, his father, owned and operated a Pure Oil gas station at the corner of County Highways K and A; it closed sometime in the 50’s. His early years were spent helping the local farmers and he often talked about how much he learned from his mentor, Hugo Nass. The ability to build almost anything with bare hands and an idea was proven many times throughout his life. Louis attended Wausau Vocational School and learned woodworking, welding and other fabrication type classes. Around the age of 14, he contracted Polio and spent time in an Iron Lung, it took him two years to regain his strength to be able to walk without assistance. After graduating he married Caroline nee Blennert and began the next chapter in his life.

 

Louis was an avid Drag racer in the mid 60’s to early 70’s, as a young man he had a 1946 Chevy truck with a “Blue Flame” motor that he raced most summer weekends. Only losing 2 races in 4 years- a track record he was very proud of. His sons have fond memories taking turns riding to the races and helping dad change the tires at the track, then change the tires back and drive home late at night. His oldest son raced soap box cars following those footsteps. Louis was an avid Chevrolet collector and enthusiast having a special fondness for the early models of roadsters, Corvairs, El Caminos and large cabover trucks. But nothing stopped him from having many other models of Chevrolets. Louis was a longtime member of the Wausau Antique Auto Club, and current member of The Vintage Chevrolet Club of America for nearly 50 years and the Wisconsin Road Knights.  Louis traveled throughout the Midwest for his work and often drove home in a new, old car he found along the way.

 

His experience working with wood and sheet metal gave him the ability to fabricate replacement parts for cars, help many fellow enthusiasts with recreating fenders, hoods, doors, bumpers and many other car body parts. He traveled the country showing his restored Chevrolets and often winning 1st place trophies with them. During these trips he created many memorable adventures with his children and fellow car enthusiasts. His last trip was to Bowling Green, Kentucky in July of 2022. Louis enjoyed his pursuit of collecting all things Chevy always finding room for one more thing. He had a special room in his home set up to resemble a parts garage with a 1900’s era cash register and more. One of the greatest joys he had was giving tours to anyone that would stop in at his garages and sharing the history of his collection. Louis had a large collection of motors from all eras’ and makes of cars including some very rare items. They are set on stands and as he would give tours, he could tell you everything there was to know about each one and why it was special. Many of them were the first type of motor for an era, some have a uniqueness such as a copper cooled one and including that Blue Flame motor he raced with.

 

In September of 2021, American Pickers brothers Mike and Robert came to film an episode on his property, another highlight of his adventurous life. He enjoyed that day and reminisced about it often. The episode named Rocket Ray Roundup aired July 23, 2022.

 

Louis and Caroline raised 6 children, as a young father he often worked extra jobs to make ends meet. One of those was as a Town Constable working mostly at Schmidt’s Ballroom, oh the stories he would tell from those nights. One was how he was choked and almost died from strangulation with his necktie and that is why he would only ever wear a clip-on tie after that incident. During these early years he built a sawmill from scratch and the whole family would help shovel sawdust, load logs and off load the cut lumber piling it into neat stacks. He built his work garage using these cut timbers. Louis loved working with wood, he handmade trophies for several of the car shows he participated in around the country. Every summer the family would go on a camping trip when the children were very young with a large Army tent without a floor. The children laugh over the nights of pulling out the plugs from each other’s air mattresses, remembering the muddy ground from rain in a tent without a floor. It was the only time Louis would cook, he would make breakfast on a charcoal grill and say it was great grandma Moses’ recipe. During the winter months, it was snowmobiling, the boys once took the hood of an old blue station wagon and hooked it up behind a sled, all six kids went for a ride around the yard. He wasn’t too happy about the scratches on the hood the next day when they reattached it to the wagon. It was quite the scene seeing him pulling a toboggan down the trail with the kids lined up behind him. Many gallons of maple syrup were cooked in pans he made. Oh, he loved syrup season, berry picking season, canning season, he would remind his children many times how lucky they were to grow up in Wisconsin and be able to enjoy every season to it’s fullest. In the mid 70’s the family adopted a Siberian Husky that was pregnant. This became another great adventure for the family as two of his sons became regional champion sled dog racers. Many neighbors can remember them training the dogs on the gravel roads near the house.

 

Louis hand built an Eliminator for the local tractor pulling community. That is when he decided to build a special pulling tractor under the challenge that it couldn’t be done. It was quite a machine that blew flames and black smoke you could see and hear for miles. A very large garden was planted every Spring growing enough vegetables to feed the family all winter long enabling them to be self-sustaining. Louis and Caroline took great pride in the garden and would often talk about the neighborhood butchering weekends also, making homemade sausage and cutting meat for the freezer. So many neighbors joined each time making it a more of a neighborhood event than a work weekend. There are fond memories of frying the homemade sausage patties on the wood cookstove for supper.

 

If you drive by his home, you will see two round polished granite pillars- they came from the Plumer Mansion. He was in the right place at the right time to be able bring them home and preserve a piece of Wausau History. The stainless-steel gates that rest between these pillars represent his handywork that he made from an idea.

 

Louis’ professional career was working for Mid-State Contracting as a Sheet Metal Journeyman. He traveled for his job working on the construction of many of the large mills you see today, including the stacks of the 3M plant in Wausau. Every time he would go past, he would reminisce on how he set them in place. He spent several years near Little Rock Arkansas for a construction project and Caroline stayed with him during the summer months. This is where he bought one of his “special” Chevys a Choo Choo Customs El Camino. This car was his summer vehicle and would often be seen at local car shows. Louis was instrumental in planning and organizing the Willow Springs Independence Day Car Show. You could always find him under the tent sharing his love of old cars and would feature something from his personal collection each year.

 

Louis is preceded in death by his wife, Caroline; son, Robert; his parents, Reno and Elmira Zastrow; brother, Arvin Zastrow; infant brother, Frederick; and son in law, Robert Sessions, Jr. He is survived by sister, Judy Bauman; sons, Wayne (Maggie), Eric (Sharon), and Todd (Chris). Daughters, Rosemarie (David) Tiedemann and Mary Lou Wilke. Grandchildren, Sara Thomer, Melissa Davis, Jessica Kittle, Amanda Kleman, David Sessions, Samantha Zastrow, Danielle Schneider, Seth Wilke, Caila Wilke, and Nicole Wilke. Great Grandchildren, Veronica, Keelan, Dimitri, Haylee, Sadie, Lily, Nathan, Brynn, Pippy, Eleanore, Skylie and Lilith. Many nieces, nephews and extended families. Finally, his constant companion Bel Air.

 

Louis left a legacy that will be hard to match. One family friend said he wished he knew him longer as there was so much more to know.

Services will be held on Wednesday, June 21st at Willow Springs in the Round Barn, 6905 N. 60th Avenue, Wausau, WI 54401. Visitation 10:00 am-2:00 pm. Funeral Service at 2:00 pm with interment to follow at Berlin Cemetery. Immediately following, there will be a Celebration of Life starting a 3:30 pm. Dinner with a pig roast will begin at 4:30 pm.

 

Louis’s final wish was “there be no tears but cheers and beers” as we celebrate the life of an amazing man.

 

 

 

 

 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Louis Zastrow, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

10:00am - 2:00 pm (Central time)

The Round Barn at Willow Springs

6905 N 60th Ave, Wausau, WI 54401

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

The Round Barn at Willow Springs

6905 N 60th Ave, Wausau, WI 54401

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Graveside Service

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

3:00 - 3:30 pm (Central time)

Town of Berlin Cemetery

N 72nd Ave, Wausau, WI 54401

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Starts at 3:30 pm (Central time)

The Round Barn at Willow Springs

6905 N 60th Ave, Wausau, WI 54401

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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