Monday, November 14, 2005

Obituary: Joseph Petrus Wergin - Class of 1927

MADISON - Joe was born in Madison, on Jan. 22, 1910. He attended Holy Redeemer Elementary School and Central High School, and obtained bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Wisconsin. After graduation in 1933, he taught science and coached at Edgerton High School. In 1940, he married Jennie Anderson and went to work for the U.S. Post Office. He joined the Army during World War II and advanced to the rank of sergeant. After discharge, he returned to the Post Office and in 1961, was appointed Postmaster of the Village of McFarland. During his postal career, he also operated the McFarland Tavern and the McFarland Real Estate Company, developed the Larwood Hills subdivision in Westport, and ran for the State Assembly as a Democratic candidate. Joe was an expert card player and wrote seven books that established him as an international authority on skat and cribbage. He is known for applying a scientific approach to card play and developing the Wergin System for evaluating skat hands. He served as North American Skat League secretary and president for many years and was first vice president of the International Skat Congress. Joe retired from the Post Office in 1970 to devote himself full-time to promoting card play. He taught sheepshead and skat at the UW Memorial Union and cribbage at elementary schools. He led the formation of the American Cribbage Congress in 1979 and served as president for 13 years. He established a network of ACC Grass Roots Clubs, standardized tournament rules, developed a round-robin method of qualification play, and organized an annual Tournament of Champions. His last project as ACC president was to start a youth cribbage program to help children improve their math skills. He was honored by being the first living person elected to the Cribbage Hall of Fame in 1982 and by establishment of the Joseph Petrus Wergin Invitational Tournament in Reno, Nevada, an annual competition that draws over 1,000 players. Joe passed away on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005, at Hebron Oaks Nursing Home (Oakwood), where he lived for the past seven years. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Ginny (Larry) White of Madison; sister, Julia Harris of Spring Valley, Calif.; and many other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved wife, Jennie; and daughter, Elaine; his sisters, Agnes Goede, Martha Koch, and Katherine Hardy; his brother, Gary Wergin; and his dear friend Marguerite Dukes. Visitation will be at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL HOME, 5203 Monona Drive, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005, with a pass and review at 6 p.m. A prayer service will be at 6:45 p.m. Burial will be held at Roselawn Memorial Park where military rites will be conducted. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2005, at IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5101 Schofield Street, Monona, with Father John Meinholz and Father Diego Cuevas concelebrating. Visitation will be at the church beginning at 10:30 a.m. Memorials may be directed to Oakwood Foundation, 6201 Mineral Point Road, Madison 53705. Gunderson East Funeral & Cremation Centers 5203 Monona Drive (608)221-5420

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on November 14, 2005

Note: Joseph Wergin's class year comes from the 1927 Tychoberahn, where he is pictured among the seniors.

03/07/2006 - Joseph Wergin's daughter, Ginny, sent an email with a link to a Doug Moe column in The Capital Times about her father. You may read it by clicking HERE. The Wisconsin State Journal also published a tribute to Joseph Wergin, written by Brenda Ingersoll. You may read it by clicking HERE. Moe, by the way, mentions Central High School in his tribute to Joseph Wergin. Ingersoll does not, but unlike Moe she's not a townie, so she may not be familiar with the long and illustrious history of Central High School.

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