A Family Funeral Home

Daniel James LaFave

September 17, 1963 - January 7, 2022
Racine, WI



Thursday, January 13, 2022
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM CST
Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home
Racine Location
803 Main St.
Racine, WI 53403
(262) 634-7888

Rosary to be recited at 6:30 pm

Driving Directions


Friday, January 14, 2022
10:00 AM CST
Live Stream
St. Pius V Chapel
509 Grand Avenue
Mukwonago, WI 53, WI 53149

Life Story / Obituary


Daniel James La Fave, age 58, passed away unexpectedly Friday, January 7, 2022, at Aurora Medical Center, Kenosha. He was born in Kaukauna, WI, September 17, 1963, son of Patrick and Martha (Nee:Nikula) La Fave and attended Custer Elementary School in Custer, SD.

Graduating from Spearfish High School in 1981, Dan entered the Naval Academy on July 7, 1981, as a member of the 35th Company. At Annapolis, he excelled as a student, an athlete, and as a leader of great character. His deep-seated love of literature led him to major in English, but he mastered the curriculum's heavy concentration of math, science, and engineering courses with equal aplomb and won frequent recognition for his academic performance. Dan shone as a linguist, studying Russian both on campus and in a summer program at the U.S. Army’s Russian language school in Garmisch, Germany. A superb athlete, Dan fought on the Brigade boxing team. He also developed his dramatic skills, performing in the college acting club and winning lead roles in several theatrical performances. As a senior, he was selected to command his company, guiding its 120 midshipmen in all facets of daily life, from routine watch responsibilities to special events such as leading it onto the football field in Philadelphia for the Army-Navy game. Given his impressive record as a midshipman, it was not surprising that Dan elected to join the Marines upon graduation. He graduated with distinction and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on 22 May 1985, serving in the Marine Corps as a logistics officer from 1985-1989.

Upon honorable discharge, Dan attended Northwestern University Law School as a John Henry Wigmore merit scholar, graduating cum laude and in the top ten percent of his class (Order of the Coif). In 1992, he began his thirty year legal career at the offices of Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren, s.c. In 1998, he moved to Quarles & Brady LLC, becoming a partner in 2001. During his twelve years at Quarles, he practiced product liability law with incredible drive and distinction. Beginning in 2005, he was recognized as a “Super Lawyer” in Wisconsin numerous times over the following years. In 2010, Dan joined Whyte, Hirshboeck, Dudek, s.c., continuing his practice with the same characteristic success. He was selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America® 2012-2022. Dan represented product manufacturers and suppliers on a national and regional basis, serving as both trial and appellate counsel. He authored numerous law review and bar magazine articles and was a featured speaker at international, national, and regional seminars on cutting edge issues associated with product liability. Dan ultimately handled lawsuits and accident investigations in more than 30 states. In 2014, he made the bold decision to establish his own law firm, Cerberus, s.c., a move that enabled him to work from home, close to his family. Dan promoted his successful career while spending more time with his wife and children, his family always remaining the center and focal point of his life. Dan was particularly honored to work closely with 4Front for over twenty years and considered the people he worked with there not only outstanding professionals but also personal friends.

Dan considered his wife, Jo Ann, to be God’s greatest gift to him after his Catholic Faith. He was united in marriage to JoAnn M. Pfeiffer on December 27, 1986, at the Queenship of Mary Chapel in Sturtevant, WI. Their union was blessed with twelve children and later sixteen grandchildren. Dan treasured each and every one of his children, providing for their every need, temporal and spiritual. He supported his wife in providing an excellent homeschooling formation for his children, teaching three years of high school French on rotation, despite his busy schedule. He instilled in his children a great love of the Catholic Faith, especially for the Mass and the Sacraments. He was proud to be a third order member of the priestly Society of St. Pius X, fulfilling his duties with devotion.

When not working , Dan enjoyed classical guitar, the recorder, languages (French, Russian, Latin), world traveling, and writing novels. He was also a strong advocate of physical fitness, setting the example himself by Nordic tracking, weight-lifting, and walking four miles every morning with his wife and two vizslas, Penny and Pippin. He provided the relaxation so needed for a mother of twelve children by taking Jo Ann on a vacation every January and every fall. Always fascinated by marine biology, Dan enjoyed scuba diving with Jo Ann on their tropical getaways. During their thirty-five years together, they visited numerous countries in Europe and Asia, Rome remaining a favorite. Dan thoroughly enjoyed visiting all the cathedrals and art museums of Europe and relished the opportunity to catalogue his visits, sharing every part of them with his children upon his return.

Dan was known by everyone as a happy man with a wonderful sense of humor. His joy and ever-present smile sprang from a selfless and thankful heart. He saw every success and blessing as a free gift from God. Dan hated few aspects of life, but chief among them was saying good-bye to his children. He struggled every time they needed to leave home for school or work and counted the days until he saw them again. He never considered his children a burden but always treasured each and every one as a blessing. Dan was able to put people at ease in every setting, making everyone feel appreciated and loved. He made it a habit to see the best in everyone he met.

While Dan loved life to the fullest, his greatest treasure after his Catholic Faith remained his family. He was a devoted husband to Jo Ann, telling everyone that after thirty-five years of married bliss, she was still the only woman who turned his head. He considered Jo Ann the heart of his family and treated her accordingly. He was enormously blessed to have her strong support during his final weeks. Jo Ann continuously prayed with him and held his hand throughout his ordeals in the ICU. Dan was a doting father and grandfather, spending every holiday and many a weekend surrounded by his family. His children visited him every day outside his ICU window in the bitter cold for hours at a time. They were blessed to kiss him good-bye in person. During his last four hours, he was able to hear every child’s testimony of love and devotion, a blessing he would have considered inestimable. Dan told everyone that he did not wish to live a second longer than God intended for him and carried this resignation to his death with joy. He provided strength and support for his family to the end. Dan embodied the meaning of true love and he will never be forgotten.

Surviving Dan are his wife of 35 years, JoAnn; 12 children, Joseph (Ashley) LaFave and seven grandchildren (Oliver, Daniel, Sean, Alexis, Elliot, Emma, Maggie), Thomas (Maria) LaFave and five grandchildren (Genevieve, Jack, Gianna, Angelina, James), Mark La Fave, Matthew (Angelica) La Fave and grandson (Desmond), Mary (Kevin) and three grandchildren (Miles, Lila, Naomi), Reverend Charles La Fave, Genevieve La Fave, Lucy La Fave, Helen La Fave, John La Fave, Madeleine La Fave, and Cecilia La Fave. He is survived by his mother, Maggie Rooney, and her husband, Bill Rooney. He is also survived by his siblings, Carla Zimmerman, Kathy La Fave, Foster Cain, Forrest Cain, Amy La Fave, and Michael La Fave. He leaves behind countless nieces, nephews, and dear friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Patrick La Fave.

A Traditional Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, January 14, 2022, 10:00 am at St. Pius V Chapel, 509 Grand Ave, Mukwonago, WI 53149. Interment with full military honors will follow at 12:30 pm at Holy Cross Cemetery, Hwy 32, Racine. Relatives and friends may meet Thursday at the funeral home 4-7 pm (Rosary 6:30 pm). A Memorial Fund for Daniel La Fave for funeral expenses was made available by his eldest son, Joseph La Fave, on gofundme.

The family wishes to thank everyone for their countless prayers, rosaries, and Masses on Dan’s behalf. The ICU staff said that they had never seen such love and support. The thousands of people praying for Dan throughout the world were a beautiful testament to his goodness and to his ability to touch the life of everyone he met. Dan received back the enormous love and generosity he gave to others throughout his life. He died a good and peaceful Catholic death just as he had lived a peaceful and God-centered life. He will be missed and loved at every moment by his family.