Oconomowoc seventh grader passes away from heart problem

OCONOMOWOC -- 13-year-old Jacob Butschke, an Oconomowoc School District seventh grader, passed away just a few hours after the closing performance of his school's production of Annie this past weekend. His aunt says Jacob died suddenly of an undiagnosed heart problem.

According to Jacob's aunt, Johanna Butschke, Jacob was home alone and on the phone with his mom, when he suddenly stopped talking. Johanna says Jacob's mother called back to a dead line. That's when Johanna says Jacob's mom called her to check up on Jacob. Johanna found Jacob in the basement, unresponsive, with the phone still in his hand. Johanna says by the time paramedics arrived, nothing could be done.

Grief counselors from across the district were at Nature Hill Intermediate School Monday. Principal Michael O'Connor believes every person in the school was affected by Jacob's passing. "The first hour this morning, there was a lot of community grieving. Never would have seen it coming in a million years, and I think that was what's so difficult for our kids to process," O'Connor said.

Talking about Jacob at his school Monday led to stories and good memories. Those memories are what he leaves behind. "He was a great kid, full of life, confident. He knew who he was. He was proud and very, very talented," O'Connor said.

"He always tried to get people to laugh and tried to make you feel better. He just loved everybody," Johanna Butschke said.

According to his principal, Jacob had fallen ill before his Saturday night performance, but pushed through it so he wouldn't let his cast-mates down. The Health Department says it was that respiratory infection, combined with an undiagnosed heart problem that led to Jacob's death.

Funeral arrangements for Jacob are still pending. The Pagenkopf Funeral Home will post those details to their website Tuesday afternoon.