Obituary for John Henry Uhalt | Ryan Funeral Homes
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John Henry Uhalt

March 14, 1945 ~ June 1, 2018 (age 73)


John Henry Uhalt, better known as “Gino,” passed away from heart complications on June 1, 2018. He was 73. Born on the east side of Madison in 1945 to William and Rosemary Uhalt, he attended Edgewood High School before being drafted into the US Army in 1968. He served two years at the Presidio military base in San Francisco. Upon receiving his discharge, he stayed in the Bay Area where he learned to climb and trim giant sequoia trees. He returned to Madison in 1971 and founded Madison Tree Service with his twin brother James Uhalt, and partners, Dan Westbury and Peter Buckner. In the mid-1970s, he opened Sun Prairie Saw Mill and Friends Café, a vegetarian restaurant on Willy Street in Madison. Around that time, Gino owned a male lion named Sammy who he fed with vegetarian leftovers from the restaurant. Sammy became famous as the world’s only known “vegetarian lion.” Sammy’s fame even reached newspapers in Europe. In the late 1970s, Friends Café sponsored Bob Marley and the Wailers when they performed in Madison. In the 1980s, Gino and his twin brother helped start the Saint Bernard Church’s basketball program for underprivileged east side youth. Gino was perhaps most well-known for his arbor care company, Dane County Tree Care, which will continue to operate as his legacy in the Madison area. He is survived by his son, Maximillian Shen Ashwill; his wife, Amy Uhalt; his step daughter, Jessica Lindsay; and grandchildren, Jori Martin and Jada Lindsay. He is also survived by his nine younger brothers and sisters: James, Thomas, Janet, Jude, Karen, Barbara, Mary, Rita, and Jay. Gino touched the lives of many east side youth and launched the careers of countless tree care professionals. A celebration will be held in Gino’s honor at LJ’s Tavern and Grill, 8 North Paterson Street, from 11am to 3pm on Sunday, June 10 in Madison. All are welcome.


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