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Man's sudden death leaves a void among friends, family

July 6, 2010

When people talk about John Weinhold, they talk about how he was always there.

He had friends in his house constantly and, even as a little boy, talked to passers-by on fishing trips.

Now those closest to Weinhold, whose body was found last month in a Cudahy park, are finding out what he meant to others.

At Weinhold's funeral on Friday, his fourth-grade teacher approached his wife, Sara. "She said, 'He was such a charmer,' " Sara Weinhold said.

Linda Steinke, John Weinhold's mother, is getting to know her son in fresh ways from the people who have approached her, too. "I just see what he's brought together and what he's left," she said.

Betty Ford, his grandmother, remembers him as an exceptional father and friend. "He was the most caring, loving grandson you could ever think of," she said.

A local life

For Weinhold, Oak Creek was his life.

He grew up in the city.

He met Sara in seventh grade, and they started dating in high school.

He participated in football, baseball, track and wrestling at Oak Creek High School.

He worked at We Energies Oak Creek power plant.

Talking to those who knew him, it's clear that he had a kind ear.

"He was a very quiet person in terms of his own emotions," said his wife, adding that he always there to listen and help others.

Which leaves Weinhold's mother searching for meaning in his death, which was compounded by her son Jason's suicide in 2005.

"There is something bigger that right now I can't see," she said. "And I have to just trust that."

Cudahy police have given no new information on Weinhold's death, saying the case in under investigation.

Together with family

One source of solace is the progeny her son left: Johnny, 9, Vincent, 8, and Elisabeth, 6.

"Now with my son, I've been blessed by the three children and a daughter-in-law and her family," Steinke said.

Steinke recently moved to Oak Creek and finds hidden purpose in that decision. She's closer now. She can spend time with the family her son left behind.

There is a void in the world of those who knew and loved John Weinhold.

But even though he is no longer fishing or walking through the door of his house or laughing with friends, his wife knows he's still watching, still making sure the people he cares about are OK.

"I know, and I think my kids know too, that he'll be smiling down on them."

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