Roger Cross, 73, was called Home by his Lord and Savior on Armed Forces Day, May 16, 2020. Born to Melvin and Verna Cross, Roger grew up in Barton, Wisconsin. Upon graduating from high school Roger enlisted in the Marines and was promptly sent to Vietnam. During the course of 15 months he was involved in 18 major operations.
Upon his return, Roger married his high school sweetheart. Throughout their fifty-one year marriage, Roger always referred to Sandra as “my bride” or “my angel.” Roger worked primarily in the printing business, eventually building the Post Printing building, later the Guaranteed Screen Printing business, located at 1020 Schoenhaar Drive.
Roger carried his commitment to the Marines in his heart throughout his life. He served as the paymaster for the Kettle Moraine Detachment of the Marine Corps League, and was Chairman of the Board for the Washington County Veterans Service Commission. His passion was to ensure that veterans were aware of the benefits to which they were entitled. Roger felt that the Kettle Moraine Detachment should have its own meeting place. After several years of work fundraising and seeking a location, he established a storefront room at 806 Main Street in West Bend for the league to meet. The location is named L Z (Landing Zone) Marine. One of Roger’s greatest honors was to serve as honor guard at Marine funerals.
Roger was passionate about guns and gun safety. He was a respected gunsmith. He taught gun safety programs, concealed carry, and served on the board of the Saukville Gun Club. Roger coached teens who compete nationally with the Scholastic Rifle and Pistol Club. He fundraised thousands of dollars to build a gun range behind the gun club for the youth to practice. Rick Leach fired the first shot at the range in Roger’s memory. Roger loved to skeet shoot with his son, Tony. He was adamant about the correct use of, and respect for, firearms.
When a new activity intrigued Roger, he rushed in headlong. Through the years his hobbies included photography, camping, water skiing, powerboat racing, fishing and ice fishing, snowmobiling, deer and turkey hunting. An interest in outboard motor repair led to his own business, Cedar Marine Service, for a time. Roger and Sandra owned homes on lakes much of their married lives. Roger appreciated interesting cars, and purchased a number through the years. His red pickup truck, customized with Marine decals, always commanded respect.
Roger was a fascinating merger of seriousness and playfulness. He had a strong sense of moral right and wrong in the eyes of God, and from the Marine training that remained within him throughout life. At the same time, he often had a great sense of humor and perspective and loved to create innocent mischief.
Roger pursued God. The prayers of his sister, Dorothy, were answered when Roger and Sandra committed their lives to the Lord. Roger served as the leader of Royal Rangers, the boys’ program at his church, for years. He participated in, and lead, Bible studies. He served as an elder in the church. Roger and Sandra participated in drama and choir. They traveled to Moldova and to a remote village on Lake Victoria, Africa to work on mission construction projects. On the last morning of his life a friend, inspired by the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” called Roger to remind him that he had indeed lived a life of faith before God. There is no greater tribute. The last stanza of the Marine Hymn states: “If the Army and the Navy/Ever look on heaven’s scenes/They will find the streets are guarded/By United States Marines.”
Roger is survived by his wife, Sandra, daughter Tammy Allar of Elkhart, Indiana, and son Tony (Wendy) Cross of West Bend. His grandchildren are Alishia (Matthew) Ascher of Alexandria, Minnesota, Vanessa, Spencer, Kelsey, Kendra, and Cassie. Roger’s great-grandchildren are Whitney and Theodore. He is further survived by his sister Dorothy Blanchette of West Bend and brother-in-law Albert Govin of Port Charlotte, Florida. Siblings Donna, Darlene, David and Dwight predeceased Roger.
Funeral services will be held at Phillip Funeral Home, 1420 West Paradise Drive, West Bend, on Saturday, May 30. Visitation, limited to 35 guests at a time, will take place from 10:30 until 12:15. The family service will follow at 12:30. Friends may view the service live on Portview Church’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PortviewChurch/) either at home or from their car in the parking lot of the funeral home. Military honors will follow the service, outside the funeral home. They may be viewed in person as long as social distancing is observed, or from home on the podcast. Roger will be buried at the Central Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery the following day.