Wilbert E. Behn, age 91, formerly of Aniwa, died Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at Eastview Medical and Rehabilitation Center, Antigo.
He was born on April 3, 1919 in Birnamwood, the son of the late Wilhelm and Helena (Reissmann) Kickhaver.
On August 4, 1950 he was united in marriage to Martha Wedman in Birnamwood. She survives.
Wilbert worked as a painter until he and Martha opened Behn's Game Farm in Aniwa in 1962. The couple owned and operated the game farm until retirement in 2005. At retirement, Wilbert, age 85, was known as the oldest living active lion trainer. Wilbert's passion was his animals. He bred and trained tigers and lions for his shows as well as for other circus shows. He also instructed people on how to train tigers and lions. He and his animals were featured on many television shows including Jimmy Kimmel and Wild Kingdom. Wilbert also spoke at many school functions. Behn's Game farm hosted the Annual Animal Swap Day in which people came from all over the states. Wilbert was a wonderful entertainer. He kept audiences captivated with his animals and fire eating. Wilbert was also an amazing artist and was very talented in many facets including wood burnings, oil paintings and pencil etchings. He also enjoyed fishing, hunting and gardening.
He is survived by his wife, Martha, Antigo; three children, Dwight (Karen) Behn, Alexandria, MN, Cindy (Bob) Kosterman, Aniwa and Duane (Candy) Behn, Aniwa; 10 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren and one sister, Leona Brown, Rhinelander.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his stepfather, Louis Behn and one brother Ernst.
The Memorial Service will be held at 2pm on Friday, April 1, 2011 at Schmidt & Schulta Funeral Home, Birnamwood. Betty Wyatt will officiate. Visitation will be on Friday from 12 noon until the time of services at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Alzheimer's Association would be appreciated. The family guest book and condolences are available at schmidtschulta.com.