On Monday, December 6, 2021, Jason Wilhelm, age 42, and Kevin James (KJ) Wilhelm, age 7, passed away together. Their lives were stolen by violence. Jason died heroically trying to protect his son and his neighbor, selflessly placing himself between them and her assailant.
The manner of Jason and KJ’s death stands in stark contrast to how they lived. It didn’t take a moment for anyone who met him to realize that Jason was a gentle giant who dedicated himself to a life of peace, humility, compassion, and giving to others. He was open to others and accepting of being vulnerable. Jason was universally known as a friend who was kind to everyone with a welcoming, warm, unforgettable smile. He regularly taught us the true definition of kindness and the powerful meaning behind it in life. Jason lived the tenets of his Buddhist faith and did not have selfish bone in his body. On a regular basis, no matter the time of year, Jason would drive specific routes on his way home just so he could help people in challenging life situations who needed a meal. Jason believed in karma, and that one’s actions driven by intention would return full circle. Everyone who knew him, felt his generous nature and how it came from a desire to put positive energy into the universe.
Jason was an upstanding citizen who cared about humanity. You could always depend on him! He valued being punctual and yet, he was gracefully patient. Responsible, trustworthy, and reliable all describe Jason. His word was his bond, and nothing less. Jason enjoyed finding the humor in life, and he relished pointing out absurdity with wit, skill, and grace. His smile and humor made a long-lasting impact on friends, family, and strangers alike. Jason was an artist. Creating beauty by shaping and forming space, Jason was particularly skilled with spatial, mechanical, and architectural design. Starting in high school, he began a career with David Hendrickson and Associates where he worked for an impressive 25 years. Jason also loved to review and critique how our designs shape the space we share – particularly how they affect our feelings, how we interact with each other, and how we live. His creative mind shaped space, lines, and sound. In fact, electronic music was one of Jason’s greatest passions – listening to it, creating it, and collecting its historical relics.
Jason’s greatest love and pride of his life was his son, KJ. A single father, Jason worked hard to protect his son and he lived to be with him. The two were inseparable. KJ adored his father. They truly complemented and brought out the best in each other. KJ was a vivacious, talkative, curious child who was known to pull his dad out his shell - to fully celebrate, live, and love the beauty of life. KJ was an absolute light to everyone around him. Like many 7-year-old children, KJ was full of questions. He loved Legos and immersed himself in any and all comics. KJ loved everyone and everything, and he always wanted to learn as much as he could about new things. Even as a young child, KJ celebrated every day, not taking one day for granted. Jason and KJ both loved their city; they enjoyed their time exploring the Milwaukee Public Museum, Discovery World, and the unique architecture. [SDM1] KJ was a great friend, like his father, and they will be sorely missed by all whose lives they touched in joy, caring, and humor.
We want to recognize that this week has been the hardest week of our lives. No family should ever have to go through this. Yet, with all the heartache, pain, and sadness of planning the unthinkable, we were reminded what Jason knew and lived; that life is greater than our daily experience. The moment we exited the funeral home on the first day of planning, two ducks flew right over our heads, so close! No doubt a sign from Jason, reassuring us that he and KJ were safe, sound, and free. Jason was always cool, calm, and collected; like “water off a duck’s back” he never allowed anything to get the best of him. Now, every time we see a pair of ducks away from their flock, we will be comforted, knowing that Jason and KJ are resting peacefully within the radiance of Heaven’s light.
Jason and KJ were preceded in death by Gavin Wilhelm, Jason’s father and KJ’s grandfather. Jason often wished that KJ could have met his dad, and now may their spirits celebrate being together with love.
Jason and KJ will continue to be forever loved and missed by his mother and grandmother, Ann Zemke and her husband, Brian Zemke; by his sister and Aunt, Kim Ramos; by his nephew and cousin, Elliott Ramos Jr; by Jason’s life-long best friend, David McClain; and by the many friends whose lives they both touched and shaped in big and small ways over the years. KJ’s light and Jason’s peace will continue to be a part of us all.
Funeral arrangements are set for Saturday, December 18, at Becker Ritter Funeral Home in Brookfield. Visitation will begin at 9:00 am, with a service at 10:00 am. Burial will follow at 12:00 pm. A candlelight vigil is planned that evening at dusk at Jason’s home. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to The Linus Project, an organization whose mission was special to Jason, or to the Sojourner Family Peace Center. Please consider visiting the GoFundMe page in Jason’s and KJ’s honor.