By all counts, the Ripon Commonwealth Press’ 2009 Person of the Year should be one grumpy guy.

John Roesch Sr. grew up in a tough, working-class little Indiana town.

After joining the Marines, his leg was shot in the Korean War.

Roesch settled with his family in Ripon, only to become a widower father of six after losing his wife, Kathryn, to Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“Life has thrown all sorts of tragedy at him,” Ripon attorney and fellow Noon Kiwanian Steven Sorenson said of his good buddy. “But he didn’t grow up to be [bitter]. He’s always kept a positive attitude no matter what life’s thrown his way.”

Roesch, 79, has been able not only to survive adversity but to emerge from it more determined in his efforts to alleviate the adversity faced by others — and typically with a smile.

“He has a great sense of humor,” friend Gib Stoeberl said. “He’s charitable, caring and empathetic about people’s feelings, especially those who are in need.”

Read the full story in the Jan. 7, 2010 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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