Amid the sorrow of man’s death comes ‘divine grace’

Nurse who noticed Jonathan Neitzke was in an ER room next to his parents gives family precious last moments together

Jonathan Neitzke
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

It’s never easy to understand the death of a young man, but Ted Neitzke IV summed up the circumstances of his brother Jonathan’s death early Tuesday as “divine grace.”

Jonathan, the 41-year-old general manager of a popular Port Washington restaurant, died of a heart attack at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton with his parents nearby due to what can only be called surprising circumstances.

Jonathan, a part-owner of Beanie’s Mexican Restaurant and former board member of Port Main Street Inc., wasn’t feeling well  late Monday night. He had back and chest pains, so he drove himself to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton after 10 p.m. The staff ran some tests and placed him in emergency room 10.

Just a few hours earlier, his father Ted III had returned to his Random Lake home after a walk. He was tired and dehydrated, his son said, and fainted, injuring himself.

Ted III was taken by his wife Julie to the Grafton hospital’s emergency room, where he was in room 11.

“They were six inches apart,” Ted IV said, but neither knew the other was in the hospital.

“Dad got stitched up,” he said. “All the sudden, all these bells and whistles started going off.”

The patient in the next room, Jonathan, was “joking around, being Jon,” his brother said, when he slumped down. Medical personnel asked if he was OK, and Jonathan said yes. He grabbed the arms of his chair, picked himself up and passed out.

 Jonathan, who was only 41, had suffered a heart attack, his brother said.

That’s when a nurse put two and two together and went into Ted III’s room, asking if they knew Jonathan Neitzke. When they answered yes, she asked what his birthdate was.

Confirming they were Jonathan’s parents, she led Julie to the room next door. 

“They told my mom to start whispering in his ear, to encourage him,” Ted IV said.  “They were trying to revive him.”

His father was brought into the room as well, and Jonathan, a devoted family man, died with his parents by his side.

“That’s a divine story,” Ted IV said. “He was in the right place. God put them together that night.”

It’s not only his family that will miss Jonathan. It’s the community as well, said Beanie’s co-founder and owner Marcia Endicott said.

Jonathan was in many ways the lifeblood of the restaurant, she said, as well as an active member of the business community.

“He was just good,” Endicott said. “The staff loved him so much, and he cared so much for them. Our hearts are broken.”

The restaurant was closed Tuesday and will close again on Friday for Jonathan’s funeral. 

Black balloons bobbed from the fence in front of the eatery Tuesday — a nod to Neitzke’s habit of decorating the front of the restaurant with balloons for special occasions, Endicott said.

“He was always taking care of things,” she said. “He cared about the staff, the customers and the whole downtown. It’s a tremendous loss.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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