Some might forget that the tiny city of Goodview, just over 4,000 residents nestled near the west edge of Winona, is its own entity.
But its people never do — and neither did longtime mayor Jack Weimerskirch, who passed away March 20. Friends and former coworkers say Weimerskirch, a graduate of Cotter High School and Winona State University who served in the U.S. Navy and sat on the city council before taking over as mayor, always had the good of the city on his mind.
“He believed in Goodview,” remembered Candi Kohner, who served as the city’s administrative assistant for over two decades and whose children grew up with Weimerskirch’s. “He loved that it was its own city, and he just wanted it to continue being that way.”
It’s true that Weimerskirch steered Goodview away from talks of consolidation with the city of Winona in the 1990s, but residents remember his legacy as more than that.
While on the city council, Weimerskirch oversaw the building of a new fire department. He was active in the Goodview Activity Group. And he was instrumental in opening LaCanne Memorial Park, which since 2000 has provided nearby residents with a swimming beach, playground, soccer fields, biking paths and a place to gather.
The park is “a jewel,” Kohner said. It was privately financed, built entirely with donations from community members and local businesses without tax dollars involved.
Former councilman Phil Conway met Weimerskirch when he moved his business, Winona Lighting, to Goodview in 1971. Even though the two saw each other regularly on meeting nights for the 26 years he was on the council, Conway remembered, the former mayor was making moves for Goodview that others weren’t even aware of.
“You couldn’t help but like him,” Conway said. “He was really an agent for the city. He was a great leader and a dear friend.”
Others remembered Weimerskirch’s loving nature, willing to listen to residents and his city staff alike and truly caring what they thought. But it didn’t mean he wasn’t also willing to stick his neck out when he believed in something.
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He was vocal about the city’s water treatment plants, current city administrator Dan Matejka remembered, in that he didn’t think they needed to be built. He was willing to go on record saying the “government higher-ups” didn’t know what they were talking about, Matejka laughed.
“The funny story is, if we didn’t comply with their standards they were going to put the mayor in jail, and he was willing to go,” Matejka said. “He was not shy about getting involved.”
And the same attitude was true when politicians would visit. Weimerskirch would often get on his soapbox in front of them, Matejka said — even if it was as tangential to Goodview as a road project in Rochester, he “always made politicians know he was watching.”
Weimerskirch always made it a priority to keep taxes low, recalled Bernie Brenner, founder and president of Knitcraft Corporation in Goodview. But more than that, he genuinely wanted growth for his city.
“He listened to the city. He looked out for the city,” Brenner said. “I always felt that I was talking to an honest man, and I always felt that I was talking to a mayor that really cared about the people.”
Matejka knew Weimerskirch for close to 30 years, he said, becoming good friends with he and his wife Sandy and coaching his son, Scott, on the Winona VFW Buddies baseball team. He worked under him for the last five or six years of the mayor’s tenure.
“I really have never met anybody that really believed in the community that they lived in so much as Jack did,” Matejka said. “(He was) a person that you could go to if you had an issue — but at the same time, a person you could have a good time with out to eat.”
A celebration of the former mayor’s life will be held May 17 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Goodview, followed by a service May 18 at 11 a.m. at Saint Mary’s Parish on West Broadway. In lieu of flowers, a donation in his honor can be made to Goodview Sandlot Baseball.