Friends reflect on legacy of state dairy leader killed in plane crash

Published: Feb. 23, 2018 at 3:20 PM CST
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The dairy community is grieving the loss of prominent dairy farmer and business owner John Pagel after a plane crash Thursday night in Indiana.

WBAY-TV reports Pagel was one of at least three people killed in the plane crash. The aircraft was on its way to Green Bay. Pagel owned Pagel's Ponderosa Dairy Farm in Kewaunee and The Cannery restaurant in downtown Green Bay.

The plane he was aboard, a Cessna 441 Conquest Turboprop plane crashed in a muddy field in Carroll County, Indiana. Indiana State Police say there are no survivors.

Those who knew Pagel tell WBAY-TV he leaves behind quite a legacy.

The Pagel and Witcpalek family are heartbroken, and in a statement, say, "They valued their community, loved their neighbors and lived life to the fullest. Although it's unimaginable to think of a future without them, we know that their loving spirit will guide us."

Pagel was president of Edge - a dairy farmer cooperative - and part of the Kewaunee County Board. But besides being a visionary in the dairy industry, he was also known for helping redevelop a section of downtown Green Bay.

Jim Kratowicz, chief operating officer of Titletown Brewery, said he partnered with Pagel to open the Titletown Brewery Taproom and The Cannery together more than three years ago.

"As a business person, I was very impressed with him, you know not only from a farming standpoint, but again just his global grasp of how his industry, all the pieces fit together was very impressive," Kratowicz said.

Pagel's friends at The Cannery say they're going to continue making him proud.

"John treated everybody here as family and we are all grieving and our hearts are broken, he was an extremely motivating and inspiring person that showed us to share the love is how to live life, and he will be deeply missed by all of us," General manager Adrienne Winter said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, which is standard procedure for aircraft incidents.