Milwaukee advertising creative, known for work with Brewers and Potawatomi, dies at 60

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- An iconic advertising executive in Milwaukee has died.

Rich Kohnke, most recognizably for his work with the Milwaukee Brewers and Potawatomi Casino, died at the age of 60 on Feb. 27.

Officials say Kohnke lost his battle with Lewy Body Dementia, the same disease Robin Williams suffered from. 

In celebration of his life, his family has scheduled a digital tribute on three billboards that will rotate throughout the day in Milwaukee on Monday, March 8. 

According to officials, Kohnke was a key figure in the advertising community for over 30 years. 

Some of Kohnke's clients included Wisconsin Department of Tourism, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, Toppers Pizza, Florsheim Shoes, Diamond Nexus, Potawatomi Casino, and the Milwaukee Brewers. 

In 1991, he left his position as an art director at Laughlin Constable to open his own agency, Kohnke Koeneke with his wife, Denise, and writer Steve Koeneke.

Officials say after an acquisition by Laughlin Constable in 2007, Kohnke had stints as an executive creative director at BVK and chief creative officer at Laughlin Constable, which marked his third time at the agency.

In 2015, he and his wife founded House United where he continued to create award-winning advertising campaigns.

“Rich was the greatest art director I ever worked with. I can say that without hesitation,” said former partner Dave Hanneken. “As we toiled away as Kohnke Hanneken Advertising between 1997 and 2007, so few know that as much as Rich took great pride in the work, he was more motivated by those who worked for us.”


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