Joseph J. Runkel, 62, of Whitehall, died Tuesday, July 16, 2019, at Gundersen Tri-County Hospital and Clinics in Whitehall. Joe was born August 21, 1956, in Arcadia, to Wayne and Mary Margaret Bill Runkel. He married Laurel Qualley on November 25, 1989, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Whitehall. He adored his children and loving wife. After graduating with Honors from Winona State University, with a major in Business Administration, he began a lifelong career as a truck driver. He received many awards for millions of miles of safe, accident-free driving. He developed his love for trucking at an early age by going with his dad to Minneapolis, to obtain merchandise for the family hardware store; he developed his love for Ford Thunderbirds from his mother. He enjoyed NASCAR racing and attended numerous racing events. He followed Ford drivers with his favorite team being the flashy red and gold 21 car owned by Wood Brothers Racing in Stuart, Virginia. Survivors include his wife, Laurel Qualley of Whitehall; son, Robert Wayne Runkel of La Crosse; daughter, Laura Jo Runkel of Rochester, Minnesota; brother, Robert Wayne (Mary) Runkel of Helena, Montana; two sisters, Mary Margaret Runkel Moehring and Anne (Peter) Gierok, both of Independence. Joe is further survived by other relatives and friends. Joe was preceded in death by an infant son, John Paul Runkel and his parents. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 20, 2019, at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, Whitehall, with Rev. Fr. Woodrow H. Pace as celebrant. Burial will be in Lincoln Cemetery, Whitehall. Visitation for friends and relatives will be from 5-7 p.m. on Friday at Edison Funeral Home, Independence, and an hour prior to Mass at the church on Saturday. A prayer service will be held at the Edison Funeral home at 7 p.m. Friday.
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