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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Alfred W. Weissgerber

Alfred William Weissgerber passed away on Thursday, April 18, 2013, after losing a battle with MDS and AML.

He was born in Marinette on April 8, 1931 to Alfred and Virginia Weissgerber.

Bill is survived by his wife of 56 years, the former Carol Nelson; along with four children, Mark David of Wausaukee, Jeffrey Lee (wife, Jackie) of Beecher, Ill., Lisa Maidman (husband, Joseph) of Las Vegas, Nev. and Kurt William of Chicago, Ill.; sister and brother-in-law, Winona and David Setunsky; along with six grandchildren, Alex, Georgie Rose and Logan Weissgerber and Jason, Chelsea and Charles Maidman. He is further survived by three step-grandchildren, Brian, Jamie and Nick King and his faithful canine companion, Katrina.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred and Virginia Weissgerber.

Bill graduated from Marinette High School in 1949 and was hired by Ansul (now Tyco) Chemical Company and worked there until 1955. Bill became one of the early Ansul Rescue Squad members. Work was interrupted by the Korean War and Bill was drafted in 1952 and sent to Camp Chaffee, Ark. for 16 weeks of advanced artillery training. Having never flown in a plane, Bill volunteered for the U.S. Army Paratrooper School in Ft. Benning, Ga. In June 1952, Bill graduated in what was the largest graduating class from Fort Benning since World War II. While silver wings were pinned over the hearts of the troopers, the Army Band played “When I grow too old to dream”.

On a rainy, stormy night in September of 1952, Bill’s troop ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to Guam, Manila Bay and finally Tokyo Bay. Bill was assigned to Headquarters Battery in the 674th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion. The unit was attached to the famed Rakassans, the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, whose Commanding Officer was Col. William Westmoreland. On June 25, 1953, Bill’s unit sailed into Inchon Harbor. (June 25th was also the date of Custer’s last stand.) His unit was forwarded to the Chorwon Reservoir in support of South Korean Army units. The 674th was later moved to Kumwha Valley where the Chinese made their last great offensive before the Armistice was signed. Bill was awarded a Bronze Service Star which signified thirty or more consecutive days in a combat zone.

Returning home in 1954, Bill used the GI Bill to receive a BBA from UW-Madison in 1959. On Thanksgiving Day in 1956, Bill and Carol were married. They started their family in Madison, Wis. and upon graduation he was hired by Sears. After an assignment in Cedar Rapids, Iowa., Bill was brought into Sears Home Offices at their Chicago, Homan and Arthington complex. Bill also worked out of the Sears Tower and the Hoffman Estates complex before his early retirement in 1994, after 36 years with Sears. At his 50th birthday party, Bill was delighted with a birthday greeting card from President Ronald Reagan and First Lady, Nancy.

Ever since Bill watched Frank Shorter win the Gold Medal in the marathon at the 1972 Olympic games, he said someday he would run one, which he did 5 years later at the 1977 Chicago Marathon. Bill went on to run 50 more marathons, including Honolulu, Boston twice and the London Marathon which he ran with his daughter, Lisa. Bill also ran in over 400 road races of varying distances, many of them with his children, and in the process logged over 33,000 miles of running and won over 200 age group awards. In 1982, Bill was involved in setting records in two events that have never been broken. In February 1982, as a member of a Sears Masters 3 Man Relay, (Masters runners are 40 years and older) his team set a record at the Chicago Corporate Classic indoor 1600 meter relay with a time of 4:42. Bill ran his laps at a 4:37 pace. Later that year Bill set an age group course record at the Aurora Distance Classic by running 50,000 meters in 3 hours and 59 minutes. Bill’s favorite running event was the 80 mile, 8 person relay through the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois which he often ran with three of his children. Runners would start at Pine Hill on the Mississippi River and run east to Golcanda on the Ohio River. It was also called the Trail of Tears as a result of the U.S. government in the 1830’s forcibly removing tens of thousands of native Americans from their land in the Southeastern United States to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Several thousand died along the way, hence the “Trail of Tears” name.

Following his Sears retirement, Bill passed the Illinois realtor’s exam but decided he’d rather be a tax preparer. Hired by H&R Block, Bill worked out of their company offices for three years before moving to Wisconsin in 1997. He was hired by the H&R Block franchise office in Marinette where he worked for another 15 years. Bill was a member of the Elks Lodge 1313 in Marinette, a past-member of the Wausaukee American Legion Post 150, a member of the Marinette Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association and was also serving in his second term as a member of Marinette County’s Civil Service Commission. In 1999, Bill was elected as Chairman of the Town of Wagner and served in that capacity for 14 years.

Carol said one of Bill’s favorite Bible verses was Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”

Friends called at Community Lutheran Church in McAllister after 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. A memorial service was held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in the church with the Rev. Paul Hueter officiating. An Honors Ceremony was conducted by the Military Twenty-Year Club. Burial will take place later in Forest Home Cemetery in Marinette.

Hansen-Onion-Martell Funeral Home is assisting the family.


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