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George Ibach

George  Ibach

M. George Ibach, was a man with an abundance of qualities; fiercely loyal, loving and joyous.  He was admired for his ability to make each person he encountered feel special - everyone LOVED GEORGE!  He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his family in Elmwood, WI at the age of 67 from leukemia.  Born in Rochester, MN, December 19th, 1949 to Marcella (Nolan) and Kenneth Ibach.

George and his wife of 34 years, Shelly, adored one another and shared the joys of life.  From hunting, fishing, hot air ballooning and living in their spiritual valley outside of Elmwood to their endless love for one another.   

George was unconventional and he achieved his dreams. He was a highly respected hot air balloonist for over 40 years and was instrumental in expanding the sport through teaching, mentoring and certifying new pilots. George was the founder of Ibach Balloon Company, Mayor’s Cup Invitational Hot Air Balloon Race and the Minnesota Balloon Pilot’s Association.  He traveled the country flying commercial balloons and was a certified gas balloonist. George also proudly owned and operated his Spring-Green Lawn Care Franchises for over 25 years. After selling his company in 2005 and flying his balloon many times over the Napa Valley, George decided to start a vineyard at their farm in Wisconsin. George became a passionate viticulturist naming his vineyard Black Squirrel. 

He loved life and lived it passionately and unapologetically. His family and friends will miss his laughter, enthusiasm and generous heart and soul.  

George is survived by his wife Shelly, his son Dylan Davis, three sisters; Sharon Ammerman, Mary Kay (Ed) Tutunjian and Janet (Gert) Schlenker, mother-in law; Virginia (DelVane) Roeder, sister-in-law; Vicky Wade, brother-in-law; Jay (Linda) Radue niece; Nicky (Tyler) nephews; Bill (Letty), Brad, Chad, Luke (Margaret) and Corey (Allison), three great nieces; Illiana, Gretchen and Presley, two great nephews; Easton and Godson Deegan, other relatives, friends and his many furry and feathered friends who live on Triple Coulee Farm.

He was preceded in death by his parents, one sister in infancy, father-in-law; Harlan Radue, brothers-in-law; Bill Wade and Bill Ammerman and nephew; Matthew Schlenker.

George will be remembered and placed to rest in Elmwood, WI on Thursday, October 26, 2017. Funeral Mass will be 11:00 AM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Elmwood with Rev. James Kurzynski officiating. Burial will be in the Boot Hill Cemetery (church cemetery). Visitation will be from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM Wednesday at the Elmwood Auditorium in Elmwood.

Rhiel Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Elmwood, is serving the family.


  1. Linda VanSickle

    Dearest Shelly, I have been thinking of you and George and am so sorry for your loss. At this time it is impossible for you to understand that in time your heart will not feel such pain. Your friends and family are here to help you - let them, including me. I am very grateful that you and George came into my life again during this challenging time and I hope our paths will cross again.

    Linda VanSickle

  2. Vicky Emerson

    Dear Shelly, I am so sorry to hear about George. He had a wonderful spirit and touched many lives. Sending you thoughts of comfort during this difficult time.
    Vicky Emerson

  3. David Kollat

    Shelly. I am so sad and sorry that this happened. Time will probably ease the pain gradually, but it will never go away. Continue to be strong and make George even prouder. My thoughts are with you


    So sorry for your loss. i flew in the RE/MAX Hot air balloon race with George. He was a riot. He will be missed

  5. Clay and Cammy Cowl

    Our sincere sympathy to you and the rest of the family. Ballooning has lost a leader, but more importantly an individual who opened the door to the sport to so many people through his welcoming persona, infectious smile, and unbridled enthusiasm. Thank you all for all that you have done for the ballooning community through your time, support, and dedication.

  6. Judi and Bill Zangs

    Shelly... no words. Our hearts are so sad. A light has gone out. George lit up every room and had a smile for everyone. We have very special memories of him and of you. Time has passed since we last saw you two, but we have always thought of you as one of the most special couples we know. You are in our prayers.

  7. Brad Temeyer

    George was such a joy to be around, work with and fly with! I remember George's passion for flying and adventurous spirit.

    I still have my last place award for the crummy weather of the Mayor's cup in 2007.

    Sending you comforting thoughts Shelly.
    -Weather Woody

  8. Wynn Gustafson

    Our sincere condolence does not express how sad we felt the day we heard of George's passing. As we go through life we meet many people, but few come across as bigger than life. Georgie Boy and you were two of them. We all have great memories of the times we spent together. We all laughed and we all cried together as we are family. Ballooning was a common interest that brought us together originally, but our friendship grew way beyond that. There are leaders and followers. There are doers and sitters. If you needed a leader or a doer, you and George were always there with your hands raised high. Your love for George and his love for you was shown everyday, not just by your word for each other, but just your presence together. I feel very blessed that I had the privilege to know you two and could call you close friends. I will always cherish the times we spent together. George may you lead the way so we can follow you into the next life.
    Love you both,
    Gus, Betty, & CJ

  9. Jen Tharaldson Lee

    Shelly, I’m so sorry for your big loss. George was such an amazing, well respected man. He loved you so much and I know how much you two mean to one another. You both light up talking about one another. He was so kind and funny to be around! His humor was the best. I’m so glad you got to share this incredible man with my friends and I. Love you and you now have the Best looking angel looking over you.

  10. Roger and Sue Tharaldson

    So sorry for your loss Shelly. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

  11. Mike and Betty Bauwens

    It was always a pleasure to see George's smiling face. I am very saddened by his passing. He will be missed.

  12. Jean and employees at Countryside Coop

    Shelly and Family
    We always enjoyed our conversations with George when he called or stopped in the office at Countryside Coop.
    We are sending our thoughts and prayers to you and your family.

  13. Amy Moore

    Indeed, George was one of a kind. Always so adventuresome and positive. He had big dreams and shared them with great enthusiasm and passion with the world. Sympathy and prayers to Shelly -
    Ballooning with you and George back in the day with RE/MAX was a dream come true. I’ll always remember him saying, “I’d rather be on the ground wishing I was flying the balloon, than in the air wishing I was on the ground.” He respected nature and I’m sure he enjoyed the beauty of Elmwood. It really is God’s country on earth and now he’s blessed to experience it in full splendor. I’m certain that his laughter is putting smiles on countless faces.

  14. Gerald Van Dr Walker

    I have wonderful memories of George he will be missed

  15. Allen and Tammy Johnson

    Please know that you are in our prayers. George had such away of making anyone he was near feel important. George will always have a place in our hearts.
    Gentle winds George!

  16. Kevin Mahoney

    Shelly.. I was terribly sorry to see George’s obituary. We have known each other since we were teenagers and even then everyone loved George. I know your pain is deep and I’ll say a prayer for both of you.dofy

  17. Nancy Plumbo

    Shelly, I'm so sorry to hear about George. What a terrible loss for you and all of the others he touched. I'm thinking of you. He was born on the same day and year as my sister who passed on 8/18 this year. So much left to do at 67.

  18. Jim Oeltjenbruns

    Shelly, my deepest and heartfelt sympathy on your loss. Even though it's been several years since I've seen George, I was saddened at the news. I sent a text to some of my old Eastwood Bank colleagues to let them know we lost an old friend, because that's how he made everyone feel. I remember the tour he gave me of this farm in Wisconsin years ago and all the plans he had for it. Now you call it home and I'm sure many of those dreams came true. Most of us don't get the chance to meet such an interesting individual like George, I consider myself fortunate for knowing him. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Jim O.

  19. Lance Anderson @ Admit One Home Systems

    I've never met someone in my life that left a greater impression on me the moment i met him. My goals shifted on how to live life that day. What a fantastic human being!

  20. Diane Stoneking

    I first met George at Margaret and Luke's wedding. I knew right away my daughter, Margaret, was getting a very special uncle. I know they are feeling a tremendous loss for their family.
    George was a person who was so fun to be around.He seemed to have an enthusiasm for life and the people around him. A person you just don't forget.
    Shelly, I am so sorry for your loss. It was obvious you both had a love for each other that many never experience in their lifetime.
    My prayers are with you.

  21. Ash Atre

    "I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death.
    They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make.
    Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.
    We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love."
    --Leo Buscaglia

    We are at a loss for words during this sorrowful time. Please know that we are thinking of you and praying for peace and comfort.

    Serki & Ash Atre

  22. Richard Rakowski

    Hi Shelley

    I am profoundly sorry for your loss and the love interrupted in your life. Although you and I know each other a very brief time, your marriage and devotion to George was inspiring to me. I am sending all my love your way.....


  23. Jerry Loftus Employe for AR lawn care

    Sorry for you loss !! Lance and I enjoyed the times that George came out to talk with us ! Thoughts and prayers From Lance & Jerry

  24. Red and Judy Haas

    Shelly, we remember what fun we had on the balloon rides with George. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  25. Dale Amondson

    Shelly, You are in our thoughts and prayers. Dale and Susan Amondson

  26. Hilde and Ben de Wit

    Dear Shelly,

    Our heartfelt sympathy to you. We know how happy you were with George And we fondly tthink of your wedding day.

    We would love to get in touch with you,
    Our phone nr is 507-289-0856.

    Hilde and Ben de Wit

  27. Jim and Ann Bock

    So sad to hear of George passing he was truly a kind and fun man will be missed by many. Sending prayers and hugs

  28. Brad Geerdes

    Shelly, I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Sincerely, Brad Geerdes

  29. Gregg Geerdes

    I'm so sorry for your loss Shelly. Pam and I were just talking about you guys the other day. May the good memories of George help you get through these difficult times.

  30. Don Balfanz

    Dear Shelly
    I am so sorry for the loss of your husband. I never met him but I’ve always known of the devotion you two had for one another. You are in my prayers.

  31. Rose Eakins

    Gorgeous George, you will be so very missed. You were one of my few heroes when I started flying in 1982. Your love of ballooning was infectious! Your energy, laughter, and persona could light up the sky, as well as any room you entered. My heart aches for Shelly; you two were so special together. Peace, dear friend.

  32. Andy reinolt A.R. Lawn Care

    I am so sorry he will be greatly missed

  33. Jane Lynn

    Sending love and prayer! Embrace being surrounded by love!

  34. Mary Reisner

    So sorry for your lost, George always knew me when we saw me. Which was not that often but I always enjoy seeing him and his smile jxry

  35. Jean Haakenson

    Shelly so sorry to hear about George. Ricky was so hoping the transplant would work for him. The two of them can share stories in heaven now

  36. John and Karen Bullock and family

    Shelly, we are shocked and saddened to hear of George's death. He was among the first we met in ballooning. He had such a zest for life. We are so sorry, our thoughts will be with you all.

  37. Little 2

    Sending all our love and hugs and prayers to Shelly and fam❤️❤️❤️

  38. Kitty Crawford Ryan

    It is true George always made you feel special he was a very loving man he will be greatly missed my love and prayers to the whole family. ♡♡♡
    Janet I love you.


  39. Randy Jenson

    Sorry to hear about George. A memorable man with a joyful spirit, he lived well. God's blessings to you Shelly.

  40. Diane Karldsson

    Soft landings my friend.

  41. Amy Donahoe-Anshus

    Shelly & Family - I am so sorry for your loss. George was a gem to my Mom over the years & always so welcoming & kind to all. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this tough time.

  42. Jim Suk

    So sorry to learn of George’s passing, Shelly. He was truly a unique and wonderful man. My spirits were raised every time I saw him. What a zest for life!

  43. Cindi Morris

    My dear Shelly,

    My heart goes out to you and your family.

    May you find peace in the many memories and the love you shared together for 34 years.

    My prayers of healing to you and your loved ones.

    Love , Cindi

  44. Flossie Lund

    I knew George in high school and always admired his gentle spirit and his smile. Janet, once again I am sorry for your loss.

  45. jerry sparrow

    what can you say---great guy - way too soon---

  46. Carol Hughes

    Shelly I am so sorry for your loss...my heart breaks for you. I was very honored to have met George at Presidents Circle. I sat next to him during our formal dinner on the cruise. He introduced himself as George. He said just remember...by George and you will remember my name. I will always remember his kind spirit, full of life and always smiling! During our talk at dinner I could tell how devoted he was to you. I loved that about him. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. Carol Hughes retired Sleep Number Ambassador.

  47. Corey gaddis

    George was a guy I never really got to know but did know him through ballooning. He was always the center of attention and fun to be around. I still remember 1st time getting to know him at the Sioux falls race when I helped him once. Remember seeing the Mercedes as his chase vehicle 1

  48. Karlyn Mattson

    Shelly and George’s vast Family and Friends -

    It was incredibly easy to love George, because he was so full of life and love. He taught me so much - to celebrate the simple pleasures of every day, to follow your passions and to approach everything with joy and optimism. He was joy, personified.

  49. Robbie Tutunjian

    I will always have great memories of George. He never failed to make me laugh & smile. Everyone loved him, and he will certainly be missed. My condolences to Shelley and the rest of the family.

  50. Cobbie

    Shelly, I am so sorry to hear of your loss...you are in my thoughts.

  51. Luke & Pam Cesnik

    Dear Shelly and family,
    Our Condolences to you all. George was a great guy and we all know that because of the large amount of grief we share. He truly was a prince of a man. Our thought and prayers will be with you in the days to come and all we can do is share the great stories that involved this GREAT man.
    Luke and Pam and all the crew from Freedom Flight.
    "The POW-MIA Hot Air Balloon Team"

  52. Jerome Beckley

    My condolences and sympathies to Shelley and George's extended family. George was such a dedicated fan of my band's music and my own music for over 50 years. His support was so appreciated. What a great soul he was! I will miss him dearly. Rest Easy, George.

  53. Maggie Craig

    Shelly: Words can not do justice to how I feel. I hoped & prayed so hard that this would not happen. George's passing has left a huge empty hole in my heart. I will always love both of you.

  54. Scott Christensen

    My deepest sympathies. I will always have fond memories of George’s passion for flying.

  55. Linda Bearden


    We are so sorry for your loss. George was a great guy.

  56. Larry Konash

    I am sorry to hear this terrible news. You will be missed by all who met you and loved by all you touched. Your love of life, Ballooning, and friends are what legends are made of.
    God Speed George. We will meet again on our next flight and adventure and I’ll bring the beer.
    Rest easy my friend.

  57. David Dawson

    On behalf of my family, I want to share our condolences. We are sorry for the loss of such a fun man.

    I work for Spring-Green Lawn Care and George is always apart of the "good old times" storied. He left his impact on this company and on all the people he interacted with.

    I will always remember him as full of life and energy.

  58. Jeannie

    My heart is breaking...George, you have brought so much love and joy in our lives. Craig and I will be forever grateful for your friendship and your unconditional love. Your passion for life will carry on in our hearts forever. Until we meet again...R.I.P. my friend

  59. Don & Pam Forciea

    We are so sorry to hear of George's passing. We remember him as a guy who really knew how to live life to the fullest. We hope your memories will warm your heart and help you to get through each coming day. We have never forgotten you two and talked of the fun we shared with you in our ballooning
    days. We pray that God will ease your pain and know that George in entertaining all in heaven with his stories.

  60. Sam Blackburn

    Shelly, words can't express my sorrow. I think you know how much George meant to me and what a huge role he played in my life from my early teens to this day. Please know that I'll always be grateful to you both. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  61. Tamara Campion

    Shelly and family so sorry for your loss. I met George on President circle trip and enjoyed talking with him. Please take to celebrate his kind soul.
    Tamara Campion and the Sarasota FL Sleep Number Team.

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