Body of missing man found — (The Portage Daily Register)

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The Portage Daily Register

By Jason Maddux, Daily Register

Oct 28, 2007

Click here for Hugh Hentz’s obituary.

Stacey Oliphant always will remember her husband for the love that they shared.

“He was my best friend in the whole world, and I just loved him to pieces,” Oliphant said Sunday, a day after Portage County officials found the body of Hugh Hentz.

The 48-year-old Pardeeville-area man died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Portage County Coroner Scott Rifleman ruled.

“I was there when they found him. I’m very, very glad that I was there. I would have felt horrible if I wasn’t. It would have been hard,” Oliphant said.

Hentz disappeared Oct. 17 after discussion of what Oliphant called “an ongoing frustration we had shared together.”

Last week, authorities found in rural Portage County the truck Hentz was driving when he disappeared. It was found stuck in mud on a back road near Department of Natural Resources land about four miles southeast of Kellner, near the intersections of Portage County Highways W and F.

“What was most important to him above everything else was he was a gentle, loving father, and the same was true about the way he loved me and I loved him. He had such a beautiful spirit. First and foremost, he was daddy,” Oliphant said.

Saturday, dogs and airplanes were brought in to aid search teams. Oliphant said he believed Hentz’s body was found in tall grass.

Oliphant said last week she did not know why her husband would travel on back country roads in Portage County.

Oliphant and many family members and friends worked with law enforcement to search large areas of Columbia County in the days since Hentz was reported missing.

Hentz was on prescription medications to treat depression and did not take his medication with him.

“This is something that was always an issue with Hugh,” Oliphant said of the depression.

Officials from the Portage County Sheriff’s Department were not available for comment Sunday.

“The sheriff (John E. Charewicz) was just an amazing, wonderful man. I couldn’t have asked for more class and respect,” Oliphant said.

The DNR land surrounding the area where his truck was found is used by the state as a breeding ground for prairie chickens.

Other than his wife, survivors include his children, Connor and Annika; stepsons: Vince, Keaton and Gavin; and his parents, Donald and Phyllis of Portage. He will be cremated per his wishes.