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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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William H. Draeger, Jr.

Issue Date: July 22, 2020

William Henry "Bill" Draeger, Jr., 96, of Oconto, passed away Wednesday evening, July 15, 2020 in his home, surrounded by family.

Born March 6, 1924, in Rapid City, S.D., to the late William H., Sr., and Laura (Larsen) Draeger, he attended the former Elm Grove School and in the winter months often ice skated prior to school in the morning to get the wood stove going. He helped his parents on the farm as a child. He graduated from Oconto Senior High School in 1942 where he was an active athlete and played football. He served in the United States Army during World War II, stationed in Europe and was active in the invasion of Normandy (Utah Beach) Battle of the Bulge. 

He received the highest score in his battalion for long range marksmanship. During the Korean Conflict, he served in the United States Air Force stateside. 

At the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, he met the love of his life, Donna Jennings whom he often joked as his "first wife". They were married Oct. 6, 1956, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Oconto. He worked in the Milwaukee area at Howard Foundry, American Motors, Kerbel Garage and retired from Schlitz Brewery. 

A man of faith, he was a member of Lutheran Churches in Milwaukee and Oconto, making sure his family was early in the pews every Sunday. A 60 year member mainly of the Germantown and Lena American Legion posts, he served as Commander many times. He was a proud veteran and drove veterans to Veterans Administration Medical Facilities in Tomah, the Fox Valley and Iron Mountain, Mi. A Deputy Zoning Administrator for the Town of Oconto, he often helped neighbors submit building permits and also served as Supervisor for the Town. He encouraged his nephew, Steve Carlin to fill his Supervisor vacancy. 

In younger years, he enjoyed convertible sports cars and motorcycles and was the proud owner of the First Indian Chief in Wisconsin following World War II. He attained a private pilot's license during and after his military service and also took up photography while serving in the Air Force and continued that in civilian life. In retirement, he traveled North American trapshooting, was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed fishing and hunting, especially for waterfowl in the Horicon Marsh. He played softball in legion leagues and participated in league bowling with his wife and friends. Known as the "sign man", he enjoyed many woodworking projects and was a fan of the Brewers, Packers and Badgers, but especially of his grandchildren's sporting events.

Surviving are his wife, Donna; four children, Karen Pappas of Milwaukee, Ruth (Todd) Bishop of Crivitz and Anita (Brian Loyd) Draeger and William, III (Karri Spice) Draeger, both of Oconto; seven grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Elsie Caldie, Green Bay and Charlotte Ihde, Oconto and nieces and nephews.

Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by a son-in-law, Dan Pappas; two sisters, Mary Carlin and Pat Virch and four brothers-in-law, Bob Carlin, Niron Virch, Jim Caldie and John Ihde. 

A small Graveside Service for family and close friends will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 23 at Evergreen Cemetery in Oconto. Military rites will be conducted by Lena American Legion Post #342 and the United States Air Force, followed by interment. Expressions of sympathy or memorials can be made to the Lena American Legion, Wounded Warrior Project PO Box 758516 Topeka, Kansas, 66655-8516 or Unity Hospice 2366 Oak Ridge Circle DePere, Wisconsin 54115. Condolences can be made and a photo tribute viewed at http:www.ackermancares.com/ Ackerman Funeral Directors & Cremation Service of Grand Mound, Ia., Raymond B. Ackerman, Jr., Funeral Director are assisting the family with arrangements.


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