North La Crosse’s Louie Ferris, dead at 91, hailed as patriotic veteran, community servant

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — A hero.

“I probably have never met a more patriotic veteran in my life,” said U.S. Rep. Ron Kind.

A servant.

“I called him up, I asked him if he would come to our city council meeting, it was a regular city council meeting, and lead us in the pledge of allegiance and of course he did, because that’s who he was,” said Mayor Mitch Reynolds.

A pillar of the La Crosse community.

“He meant the world to our department,” said City Parks and Rec Manager Dan Trussoni.

Louie Ferris was a born and raised on the North Side of La Crosse and was a Korean War Veteran. He was 91 years old when he died.

“The minute he said I’m fundraising for something, especially for the veterans, and anything in the community, people were right on it,” said Sue Weidemann, Ferris’s friend.

The Veterans Freedom Park is what is today because of Ferris.

“Last couple of years, he was battling stage four cancer, but still pushing hard to get veterans freedom park established,” said Reynolds.

Ferris brought recognition to the Hmong Lao veterans.

“He broke down so many barriers between ethnicities and groups, and it was so cool to see the trust and relationships build,” Trussoni said.

And even in his last moments, he was active in his community.

“And he just couldn’t have been happier, he was bouncing around saying hello to everyone and showing off the park and talking about the next steps and just engaging and just how he always did,” Reynolds said.

His loss will be felt by many.

“I would love to be able to figure out how to say…there’s just this big gaping hole that will happen because Louie Ferris is just no longer with us,” said Weidemann.

But his spirit remains in those who respected and loved him.

“Every time he’d call and I’d answer the phone – I’ve started doing it now too since he did it, but he’d answer the phone and I’d go ‘Hello?’ And he’d go “Oh! You’re looking good,'” Trussoni said.

And Louie Ferris’ legacy lives on.

“It’s really up to the next generation, us, to pick up that torch and carry that pride of ownership of this great country,” Kind said.

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