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Jeffrey “Jeff” Liethen

April 26, 2019 | 21 comments

Jeffrey John Liethen Colonel (Ret.)

October 26, 1958 – April 25 2019

Jeffrey “Jeff” Liethen passed away peacefully from cancer on Thursday, April 25th 2019 in his home surrounded by his loving family.

Jeff was born Oct 26, 1958, in Appleton, to John “Jack” and Betty (Baerwald) Liethen. On July 2, 2005, Jeff married Julia (Andreas) Liethen. Throughout their marriage, Jeff, Julia and Barnacle (their mouser) worked hard entertaining friends and family on their houseboat “The Huntress”. Jeff and Julia along with their family and friends have made many fond memories cruising on the Mississippi.

Jeff is survived by his wife, Julia Liethen; brothers and sisters, Brian (Linda) Liethen, Paul (Heather) Liethen, Christine (John) Clark, Patrick Liethen, and Jenifer (Bradford) Fry; nine nieces and nephews; Brent, Andrew, Jesse, Abby, Billy, Lexi, Dylan, Jenna, and Josie, and step mother, Bonnie Liethen. He is preceded in death by his parents, Betty Liethen and John “Jack” Liethen.

Jeff Liethen started his military career in 1977 when he joined the Army National Guard 273rd Engineer Company in Onalaska, WI. Rising through the enlisted ranks, he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and assumed the role of Squad Leader. Col. Liethen later attended the Army Officer Candidate School and in 1983 was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant – Corps of Engineers.

Col. Liethen served as an officer in a variety of engineer command and staff assignments in Wisconsin and abroad, to include company, battalion, and brigade command positions. His combat zone deployments include service in support of Operation Desert Storm (Saudi Arabia), Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq), and Operation Joint Guardian (Kosovo).

Col. Liethen is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College and holds a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies. His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit (2), the Bronze Star Medal (2), the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (4), and the Army Achievement Medal, among many others.

Col. Liethen was honorably discharged from the Army in 2013 with over 35 years of military service. He retired in the Coulee Region with his wife Julia, and near their family and good friends.

Jeff enjoyed fishing, hunting, boating, music and fun with family and friends.

As special thanks to Mayo Health System Hospice staff; Mary his caring nurse, Gloria for the gentle bathes, Holly, Tuesday, Liz, Kristin, Steve, and Jason.

A celebration of his life with full military honors will take place on Friday, May 17th, 2019 from 1 pm to 3 pm, in the Prairie Room, at Coulee Region Cremation Group,133 Mason St. Onalaska, WI. A light lunch will follow at the Onalaska American Legion on 731 Sand lake Rd, Onalaska. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be directed to a memorial bench for Jeff that will be placed at Lock and Dam 6 in Trempealeau.

To view Jeff’s memorial video, copy and paste the following link below into your web browser.




  1. Lonnie Miller

    My deepest sympathy to your family. You do not know me. I am Betty’s first cousin…our mothers were sisters. ….Eldora was my Godmother. May you have the strength to meet each day. Hopefully the time will come when memories bring a smile instead of tears. Hugs

    • Sandra Zastrow

      So sorry for your loss. I graduated with Jeff. He was a good person. RIP Jeff.

    • Michael Andrews

      It was an honor to serve with this man. HOOAH sir!!!

  2. Seth Perelman

    Jeff was a fine guy, unfailingly interested in and kind to everyone. I will always remember his characteristic smile and the way he greeted anyone he knew.
    I respected him as a dedicated, honest officer and even more as a truly decent person. I extend my sincere condolences to you on your loss.

    • Julia Liethen

      Thank you Seth. I’m just so happy that I got my true love and wouldn’t change a day.
      We wish you well.

  3. John Roth

    To the Liethen family, I am so sorry for your loss.

  4. Doug Gehrke

    My sincere sympathy to Jeff’s family

  5. Sue Gordon

    Bonnie, Dena and family–my heart aches for all of you. May your memories help you through this very difficult time. “As you remember the love, as you mourn the loss, may you also celebrate the life”
    Love Susie

  6. LTC Brendon Manglos

    May the Lord give you peace and comfort during this difficult time. COL Liethen was one of my Battalion Commanders and I always found him to be a caring leader with a great sense of humor.

  7. Margaret

    I hope you catch the big 1 where you’re going ….someday we will all meet again God bless you Jeff .you will be missed.

  8. Charlene (Thompson) Herrin

    So very sorry for the whole Liethen family. I always think of you “all” as a second family while growing up. Jeff was a great guy. Gone way too young. Love and Hugs.

  9. Ronald Luebke

    I served with Jeff in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. He was a great soldier and officer, I have great memories of his loyalty, hard work, and good humor.

    We are sorry for your loss — please know that my wife Tina and I will be praying for the repose of the soul of Colonel Jeff, and for the strength, peace, and comfort for you Julia and your family.

    Ronald Luebke, Colonel (retired)

  10. Shukri Rabadi

    Rest in Peace Jeff Liethen. Me in Kuwait and my family in Wisconsin are so deeply saddened for the lose of Jeff. I will never forget him and the help he offered me and my family when he opened the door for me to come back to the US after Iraq. If it was not for Jeff we would not be here. I worked for him for four years and he was the best man to work for, so caring about his team. I pray for all of you there and my deepest sympathy to his family and his wife Julia. God bless Jeff and rest him in peace with our Lord Jesus Christ in His heavenly Kingdom.

  11. Fred Mutchler

    Julia and extended family,

    You don’t know me, but Jeff was in my thoughts frequently over the past 50+ years. We were childhood best friends in Onalaska in the late 60s/early 70s and found a common bond being born just 8 days apart (he used to chide me for being ‘older’). Jeff’s parents were as much mentors as my own and I learned much from his dad, Jack. My first hunting trip was with Jeff and his dad and the two of us spent many summer days fishing together on the spillway.

    I just wanted you to know that Jeff had a positive and leading influence far and wide over many decades – even before he served our country with distinction.

    May God bless you and offer His comfort in this time of loss. Jeff will always be remembered with fondness.

    Fred Mutchler

  12. Angel

    Heartfelt condolences to you all.
    Eternal thanks to Colonel Liethen for his generous service to our nation in keeping the rest of us free.
    From a grateful mom in northern WI.

  13. Cindy Lefevre

    It is so difficult to watch a loved one decline, thankful for the special care of hospice workers. So sorry for your loss.

  14. H. L. Buzz EsserMSG Retired.

    Condolences to Jeff;s family. Was my Plt. Leader & later CO. of the 229th Engr;s in Prairie & Platteville. Was our CO. during Desert Storm. BEST damn trainer of troops ever in my 38 yrs. of service in the Guard. GOD BLESS!!!

  15. Kris Shelstad

    Love and strength to you, Julia.

  16. Sandra T Evans

    My prayer to the family.. Jeff was apart of the family likey own brother… (Mulrines)
    Rest in peace …..
    Sandy (Mulrine) Evans

  17. Scott Kelbel

    Jeff’s family, please accept my heartfelt condolences. Jeff was a 1LT when I joined the National Guard in Onalaska in the Signal Section. He ALWAYS treated me kind and respectfully and was a pleasure to work with.

    I hope the days of thinking of him with smiles, instead of sadness of your loss, greets you all soon.

    Scott Kelbel
    (1SG Retired)

  18. George Kreuzer

    I just now learned of Jeffs passing today from the Wisconsin National Guard “Your Communicator”, 6/11/2019. I offer my condolences to family. George Kreuzer, Stoddard, Wisconsin.

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