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Packers FAN Hall of Fame finalist: Fred Ihlenfeldt Sr.

Fred Ihlenfeldt Sr. at Lambeau field in front of his photo
Posted at 4:00 AM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 11:39:27-05

KEWAUNEE (NBC26) — If you rewatch videos from the Ice Bowl in 1967, you’ll see a fan waving a giant banner after Bart Starr scored the winning touchdown. That fan was Fred Ihlenfeldt Sr.

Every year since `1998, the Packers induct one devout and longtime fan into the FAN Hall of Fame. Ihlenfeldt Sr., one of the ten finalists, passed away in the year 2000, but his son Larry Ihlenfeldt keeps his legacy alive.

“Unfortunately, I inherited my dad’s enthusiasm, so I get kind of loud and boisterous and things like that during the game," he said. “This is the time that I have to let everybody know who is holding that banner at the Ice Bowl."

The first date his dad took his mother on was to a Packers game in 1944, when the team played at the Old City Stadium, said Ihlenfeldt. Ihlenfeldt Sr. didn't attend the first Superbowls in-person, but after Superbowls I and II, the Kewaunee native drove to the Green Bay airport to welcome the players back home.

“‘Do you ever regret not going to the Superbowl I and II?’" Ihlenfeldt recalled asking his father. "He says, ‘Always. I just wish I would’ve went.’”

Ihlenfeldt Sr. bought two season tickets in 1959, and those seats were never empty, said Ihlenfeldt. While his children now fill those seats, he is forever in Lambeau; his photo hangs beside the entrance to one of the men’s bathrooms on the southeast side of the stadium.

“Before the games, we used to go over there and say hi," said Ihlenfeldt. "Just, you know, touch him on the picture and stuff like that.”

His dad was Bart Starr’s biggest fan, said Ihlenfeldt. A few months before Ihlenfeldt Sr. passed away, Ihlenfeldt met Bart Starr in-person and told him who his father was.

“He remembers running off the field in the Ice Bowl after he scored the winning touchdown," Ihlenfeldt said, remembering his conversation with the former quarterback. "He said he looked up, and he saw that banner, and then when I told him who it was, he goes, 'You've got to be kidding.' So he was glad to find out who the person really was.”

Starr signed a hat for Ihlenfeldt, which he gave to his father for his 80th birthday.

“I gave it to my dad, and he says, 'That’s the best birthday present I ever got,'" said Ihlenfeldt.

The only gift that could rival that would be for his dad to be inducted into the FAN Hall of Fame this year, he said.

“Oh, he’d be thrilled to death," said Ihlenfeldt. "He enjoyed the Packers so much.”

You can read all of the finalists' stories and cast your vote here. All votes must be submitted before January 31st.