Ralph James Eswein, age 75, of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, passed away Friday, February 19, 2021 in his home in the town of Brockway, Jackson County, under the care of Black River Memorial Hospice. He was born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Wood County, November 13, 1945 to Arthur and Johannah Eswein. He was raised in Port Edwards, Wisconsin. He married Andrea Jean Scholze on June 24, 1972 and they lived in rural Black River Falls their entire married life.
He graduated from Port Edwards High School in 1964. After that he attended the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse for four years, majoring in cartography and meteorology. He moved to Black River Falls in 1971 and managed the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper routes as well as working at Nortman’s Standard Station in Black River Falls. He also worked as a pulper and skidder for Kenneth Gjerseth and did janitorial work for Sparkle and Shine. In 1976 he began to work for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and worked in the Co-op Trout Program and in electro- fishing for 30 years, retiring in 2006. After that he worked several years for the Jackson County Surveyor.
In the late 1980’s Ralph began mapping the long-abandoned logging railroad grades in Jackson and northern Monroe counties, collecting old lumber photography of eastern Jackson County and other materials for a book he authored entitled “Logging Dilemma in the Big Swamp”. It was published by the Monroe County Historical Society in 1995. He also made a video of the book, in the style of Ken Burns’ documentaries.
His father told Ralph as a boy that “if somebody else can do it, you can do it”. Thus, Ralph was not afraid to tackle any job that needed doing. He could fix almost anything, using his ingenuity to make things work.
Ralph was an avid deer and turkey hunter, and a skilled fisherman. He loved to fish for trout on Lake Wazee, and enjoyed bass fishing as well. He was a storyteller who could keep you on the edge of your seat with tales of his hunts and encounters with wildlife.
As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Ralph served as an elder in the local congregation for many years. After retirement he entered the full-time ministry. He found joy in sharing his faith and in teaching the Bible to others. His favorite scripture was Proverbs 3:5, 6: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight.” His life reflected those words.
Ralph is survived by his wife: Andrea, of Black River Falls; one brother: Gerald (Tanya) Eswein of Wisconsin Rapids, WI; one sister: Joanne Stensberg Witman, of Madison, WI; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; one brother: Arthur Ross Eswein, Jr; and one sister: Jacqueline Janz.
The family would like to thank the Black River Memorial Hospice staff, especially Mary, and also Kevin, Joy, Shawn, and Mark for their compassionate care of Ralph.
Per Ralph’s wishes, no visitation or services will be held at this time. The Cremation Society of Wisconsin is assisting the family. Online condolences can be left at http://www.cremationsociety-wi.com.

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