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You Know You’re From...Stevens Point: Heavens to Betsy

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 9:00 PM CST
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - Altenburg Dairy is getting into the ice cream business. Again.

“My wife Betsy had a soda fountain in the parlor its in right now,” husband Jim Altenburg said.

The new venture is called “Heavens to Betsy.”

“It was a no-brainer for us,” said oldest son Jeff Altenburg.

Betsy Altenburg died in August of 2018 after a long bout with Parkinson’s. She owned and operated Altenburg Dairy Ice Cream Parlor on Madison Street before they closed shop around 25 years ago.

“She had a pretty good deal. I paid for the ice cream, and she kept the money,” Jim said with a smile. Jim owns Altenburg Dairy.

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It was Jim who floated the idea of the ice cream parlor. The four Altenburg kids ran with it, with Vicki Guyette leading the charge.

“Betsy was very special to me,” she said.

Vicki was Betsy’s caregiver for the last year-and-a-half of her life. But the bond between her and the Altenburgs lives on.

“Like I have a sister and three more brothers now. I’m the oldest,” Vicki said with a laugh.

“Mom fell in love with Vicki,” Tim Altenburg, Betsy’s son, said. “We fell in love with Vicki. It was like another sister.”

“I don’t believe this would have gotten off the ground and where it is today without Vicki,” Jeff stated.

The menu will include Gille’s frozen custard, with local homemade ice cream sandwiches and some other favorites sure to hit the sweet tooth.

“She was just always a big fan of red brick,” Jeff recalled. “The fact that we’ve been able to expose this brick and refurbish this space, I think she wold have absolutely loved it.”

“There’s such a connection with this place in the town, which I didn’t realize,” said Tim.

To say it’s been a labor of love is putting it mildly. The original plan was to open last summer. But the long journey along their rocky road is about to come to fruition March 7. Betsy’s 82nd birthday.

“There’s no room for, ‘maybe this won’t work,’ said Vicki. “Not being successful is not an option.”

“The family was always close,” Jim said. “This will bring them even closer.”

Sunday’s grand opening of Heavens to Betsy is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and is open to the public, located at 2041 Madison St. Normal operating hours after that will be Thursdays 1-6 p.m., Fridays 1-8 p.m., Saturdays noon-8 p.m. and Sundays noon-6 p.m.

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