Johnsonville Sausage co-founder dies
SHEBOYGAN FALLS - She started a butcher shop in 1945 that eventually became the world-famous Johnsonville Sausage company. 96-year-old Alice Stayer died over the weekend from natural causes at her retirement home in Naples, Florida.
She was born in Michigan with 13 brothers and sisters, and moved to Milwaukee after her father's mine shut down. After she got married, Stayer and her husband Ralph saved up enough to join two friends in starting Johnsonville Sausage in 1945. It was named after the rural Sheboygan County town where they made meats from 19th-century Austrian recipes.
Johnsonville was a household word throughout Wisconsin in the 1970's - and the firm began selling bratwurst and other meats outside the Badger State in 1978. Today, the company remains headquartered in nearby Sheboygan Falls with 1,400 employees who make a variety of sausages sold in 30 nations, including China. Stayer's husband died in 2007 at age 92.