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Kyle Prentice

May 14, 2024 | 8 comments

Kyle Prentice, beloved owner of the Helm Bar in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully on May 8th, 2024 in Balsam Lake, WI. Born in 1962 to Noble and Elsa Prentice, Kyle graduated from Viroqua High School in 1980. Kyle married the love of his life Debbie Prentice on March 26th, 1999 in Balsam Lake, WI. Kyle’s journey began in the heart of La Crosse, where he would leave an indelible mark on the community.

Kyle was not just a bar owner; he was a pillar of the local social scene, known for his warm smile, generous spirit, and unwavering commitment to hospitality. The Helm Bar, under his stewardship, became more than just a place to grab a drink — it was a hub of camaraderie and connection, where friends gathered to share stories, laughter, and the occasional game of pool and darts.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Kyle was a devoted son, brother, and friend. His kindness knew no bounds, and his infectious laughter could brighten even the darkest of days.

In his free time, Kyle was an avid outdoorsman who found solace in nature’s embrace. Whether casting a line into White Ash Lake or taking his pontoon down the Mississippi River with family and friends, he found joy in the simple pleasures of life and truly loved every moment spent in the great outdoors. Kyle’s love for the outdoors was matched only by his devotion to his family, including his mother Elsa and her husband Don, his wife Debbie and his daughter Leah, his brother Yarll and his wife Cheryl, his late father Noble and his wife Donna, and his beloved in-laws, Sharon and Bill. Together, they shared countless memories including sunny days on the water, creating bonds that will endure long after Kyle’s passing.


Kyle’s devotion to family was truly unparalleled. He cherished his wife, Debbie, and their daughter, Leah Layne Prentice, whom he affectionately called his “Baby Sugg.” Kyle was the best brother, and best friend his younger brother Yarll could’ve ever asked for. Together they crafted endless memories, embarking on adventures at music festivals and finding solace in the serene retreats of their cabin on White Ash Lake. Kyle’s unwavering passion for music infused every shared moment with loved ones, adding depth and harmony to their experiences.

It was in Stoddard, WI, where Kyle’s passion for hospitality blossomed, forming lasting friendships and earning the admiration of everyone who knew him. In 1987, Kyle and his father, Noble, embarked on a new chapter, purchasing – what would become – the iconic Helm Bar. Alongside his beloved wife, Debbie, Kyle poured his heart and soul into the establishment, treating staff and patrons alike as family. The Helm Bar became a community gathering place, offering pool tournaments, live music, and cherished traditions like Swamp Water and special events. Before his venture with the Helm Bar, Kyle lent his talents and dedication to various local businesses, including Big Al’s, Mike’s Old Style Inn, and Mai Tai. Kyle was a strong advocate for the Tavern League of Wisconsin, where he served as President in the past and remained actively engaged on the board of directors until the time of his passing. His commitment to the organization was unwavering, reflecting his dedication to the local community and the hospitality industry.

Beyond his roles as husband and father, Kyle was a beacon of compassion and generosity. His genuine nature and unwavering support touched the lives of all who crossed his path. Whether as a boss, mentor, father figure, or friend, Kyle’s presence brought warmth and guidance to anyone and everyone he met. A special thanks goes out to the Helm staff, past and present, for their loyalty and dedication – but mostly their love.

Kyle’s passing leaves a void in the hearts of many, but his spirit will forever remain in the memories he created and the lives he touched. As we mourn his loss, let us take solace in knowing that Kyle’s love and legacy will endure through the countless lives he enriched. Let us embrace the values he held dear: love, compassion, and the importance of family and community. Though he may no longer be with us in body, Kyle’s spirit will continue to guide and inspire us all. He truly loved all of you.

Survived by: his wife, Debbie Prentice; his daughter, Leah Prentice; his mother, Elsa Franzen (Don); his brother, Yarll (Cheryl); his stepmother, Donna Prentice, and his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Sharon and Bill Jotham

Preceeded in death by: his father, Noble Prentice

A Celebration of Life will take place August 10th 2024 in the South Ballroom of the La Crosse Center starting at 11am (300 Harborview Plaza 54601).

“Surround yourself with good people.”

-Kyle Prentice



  1. Don kube

    I didn’t know Kyle real well but the interaction I did have were very positive and encouraging. He made a good impression on me and all of my friends when down at the Helm. Thoughts and prayers go out to kyle’s family and friends!
    Don (Gus) Kube

    • Broadway

      RIP Kyle, Yo to Noble and my thoughts and prayers are with your Family.

  2. Chris Cade

    Vernon County and Viroqua friends will always keep Kyle in our hearts.

  3. Mary Linden

    Sorry to hear of Kyle’s passing, Hugs and prayers to all. Knew him from the Helm, But also worked with his Mom at Lacrosse Footwear
    Mary (Lee) Linden

  4. Karen

    My deepest and sincere condolences to Kyle’s family and friends. He was one of a kind. I happen to be one of the original owners in 1984 when Noble walked in The Helm asking if we wanted to sell. He didn’t take no for an answer and returned many times. In the end he was bound to have the Helm for Kyle & himself. Kyle made me pretty proud of how he brought the original logo up to La Crosse to continue the business. He was such a business man yet always a friend. I walked in one day & he never skipped a beat by welcoming me with a big hug and that beautiful smile. He was an amazing and well loved person by all who came to know him.
    Rest easy my friend.

  5. Karen Thingvold

    Dear Debbie…I am so sorry to hear this. I have nothing but good memories of you both from so many years ago. I haven’t seen either of you for about 6 years. Last time was when you all brought Hamilton Loomis up to play at the helm. I have a great picture of you, Kyle, and Leah. I will get that to you. Love and hugs to you and Leah. Deep condolences to all of the family. Kyle was a great guy.

  6. Terry Mendiola

    Our deepest condolences to the Prentice family for your loss. May your grief be short…but the memories of Kyle sustain you forever.

  7. Dave Markos

    Debbie, Leah, Yarell and the rest of the family… My heart aches for the loss of Kyle. I knew Kyle and Yarell from the early days Sherwood Court or whatever it is called.

    Those early days were fun and in some ways it seems like yesterday. Good times!

    I too was in the hospitality business and frequently brought up Kyle at our staff meetings. Kyle had all the elements to do well in the bar business. I can’t think of many operators who did it better although my Dad is on that list as well.

    Over the years I would have nice talks with Kyle and his presence never changed. Deep and confident voice and his smile was always bigger than life! Never negative and always very complimentary.

    I will mess my friend and I am grateful for the memories I will never forget. My heart goes out to the family and Kyle’s friends.

    See you in the future Kyle!

    Take care,
    Dave Markos


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