It is with great sadness that Johnsonville Sausage announced the company’s co-founder, Alice Lucille Brinkman Stayer, passed away from natural causes Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Naples, Fla.

Stayer co-founded Johnsonville Sausage with her husband, the late Ralph F. Stayer, in 1945. Since the company’s beginning as a butcher shop in the small town of Johnsonville, Wis., it has grown to be the No. 1 national brand of sausage and is also available in about 30 countries outside the United States. Today, the company employs approximately 1,400 members.

Stayer was the 10th of 14 children born to John and Mary Pechauer Brinkman, of Ahmeek, Mich., but the family relocated to Milwaukee after the mine where John worked in Michigan was closed. While Stayer received a college scholarship during the Great Depression, she turned it down to continue supporting the family by working as a secretary.

Alice and Ralph F. married in 1938 and began working toward achieving their dream of owning their own business. In 1945, their dream became reality, when the Stayers, along with friends Carl and Anna Hirsch, founded Johnsonville Sausage.

When Carl Hirsch passed away, the Stayer family partnership was formed. Alice and Ralph F.’s children, Ralph C. and Launa, joined the business and helped grow Johnsonville into an international sausage company. In recognition of their great contributions to the meat industry, Alice and Ralph F. were inducted into the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame in 2000.

Perhaps most clear to those around Stayer was her passion for family. She took great pride in her two children, Ralph C. Stayer and Launa Stayer-Maloney, as well as her 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Additionally, she always had a special relationship and bond with her large “extended” family at Johnsonville Sausage and throughout the community.

Alice and Ralph F. were known as extremely generous philanthropists who gave kindly to help those in need in their community. From the Ralph F. and Alice Stayer Boys & Girls Club in Sheboygan, Wis., to The Stayer Park in Plymouth, Wis., and the Golisano Children’s Museum in Naples, physical evidence of the Stayers’ generosity can be seen in many places.

Stayer was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph F. Stayer; her parents, John and Mary Pechauer Brinkman; her sisters, Mary Elizabeth Bickel, Martha Cecilia Brinkman and Agnes Rose Emmons; her brothers, John Henry Brinkman, George Joseph Brinkman, Emmett Frank Brinkman, Earl William Brinkman, Ralph Anton Brinkman, Albert Oricen Brinkman, Robert James Brinkman and Julius Adolf Brinkman; and her brother-in-law, Samuel Crum.

She is survived by her two children, Ralph C. (Shelly Reilly) Stayer and Launa Rose (Paul) Stayer-Maloney; 10 grandchildren, Julie (Alejandro) Palomares, Jennifer (Samuel) Shaus, Jill (Anthony) Bonnett, Michael (Nicola) Stayer- Suprick, Laura Stayer, Ralph Francis Von Kass (Sara Gilbert) Stayer, Patrick (Jennifer Murray) Stayer, Jonathan Wagner, Brittany Wagner and Brooke Stayer- Wagner; and 13 great-grandchildren, Nicholas DeRidder, Amelia Rose Palomares (Jordan) Haley, David Alejandro (Lauren Morris) Palomares, Amanda Michelle Palomares, Owen Bauer, Ethan Bauer, Harry Stayer-Suprick, Rex Stayer-Suprick, Ralph Lokin Bedi Stayer IV, Una Sewell, Christopher Bonnett, William Bonnett and Mira Stayer. She is further survived by her sisters, Ruth Wollenschlagen and Rita Crum; brothersin law, John (Donna) Stayer, Raymond Stayer and Robert (Henrietta) Stayer; as well as many other loved relatives and friends.

Memorial arrangements for Alice Stayer will be announced in due course.

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