Call it Joe Darcey bridge

Joe Darcey is shown Monday afternoon relaxing at Heritage Homes on Watertown's west side.

Joseph Darcey is this year's recipient of Watertown's Main Street bridge naming honor.

According to Riverfest Chairman Tom Schultz speaking at the 33rd Annual Riverfest Sunday, Darcey is someone in the community who has served above and beyond his normal work and made a difference in the quality of life in the community.

As other past honorees, Darcey will have his name engraved on a plaque at the entrance to the downtown river walkway and will have the bridge named after him for a full year. He also receives a plaque.

Darcey, 95, resides at Heritage Homes and was described by Schultz as a "philanthropist and community leader."

Darcey is a native of Watertown and has lived here his entire life with the exception of his time as a student at University of Wisconsin-Madison and his service in World War II.

He owned and operated Darcey Rent-A-Cow just north of Watertown where he ran a cattle leasing business and sale arena that brought farmers from as far away as Minnesota and Iowa to purchase quality dairy cattle.

Darcey also created and funded the Joe and Sharon Darcey Foundation 27 years ago and this organization has given back nearly $2 million to the community. Schultz said the foundation's assets continue to grow at a rate faster than the awards it presents each year, making the program sustainable into the future.

The program has issued scholarships to more than 125 Watertown High School graduates, awards to more than 50 teachers, has funded the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at the airport and made annual contributions to many local groups including the Watertown Public Library, St. Bernard's for renovations, YMCA, Watertown Family Aid, Watertown Municipal Airport, Octagon House, Watertown Catholic Schools and Bread and Roses.

Darcey has served as honorary marshal for the Fourth of July parade, is a member of the Watertown Rotary Club, Watertown Elks Club, board member of the Watertown Arts Council, is active in the streetscape program, has served as a member of the board of directors of the Watertown Area Community Foundation and served 31 years on the board of directors of Bank One in Watertown.

Other past recipients of the honor include:

1982 William Connor

1983 Evelyn Rose

1984 Dr. Louis Nowack

1985 Raymond Dobbratz

1986 Myra McInnis

1987 Dr. Robert Liners

1988 E. James and Katherine J. Quirk

1989 Rolland Freitag

1990 Mary Connor

1991 Robert Krueger

1992 Daniel Brandenstein

1993 Rev. M. Fred Himmerich

1994 Larry Schultz

1995 John Model

1996 Bobby Maas

1997 John Wanke

1998 Larry Mistele

1999 Richard Block

2000 Richard Minning

2001 Clarence Mess

2002 Dr. William "Bill" Ehlinger

2003 Chris Huhti

2004 Joe Ready

2005 Arthur Turke

2006 Ray Kubly

2007 Ora Kuckkan

2008 Archie Loeb

2009 Bob Lueck

2010 Kenneth Ceithamer

2011 William "Bill" Jannke III

2012 John Schloemer

2013 Ramona Hackbarth

2014 Jerry Peters

2015 Nelson Fischer

2016 Steve Hepp

2017 Augie Tietz

2018 Rev. Tim Mueller

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