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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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William G. Walker

Issue Date: January 30, 2020

William Gordon Walker, a lifelong resident of Marinette, WI, passed away on Sunday, January 19, 2020 at the very young age of 97. 

Born March 5th, 1922 to Joseph and Mary (Schick) Walker, he was one of six children.

Bill is survived by his sister, Marian Bomberry of Peshtigo, WI and seven children, Kathleen (John) Andrews of Gastonia, NC, Barbara Bulson (Roger Floyd) of East Troy, WI, Bill Walker Jr. of Viroqua, WI;, Mike (Sandy) Walker of Marinette, Judy Walker (Gary Goetzke) of St. Paul, MN, Phillip (Barbara) Walker of Geneva, IL and Mary Walker (David Bell) of River Falls, WI.

Further extending the family tree are 15 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren.

Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Mary and brothers Jim, Pat, Greg and Francis.

Growing up, Bill held a number of jobs to earn money for the family, he was a dishwasher and then a butcher at the A&P, worked on a fox farm and for a summer at a cherry orchard in Sturgeon Bay, WI. When he was old enough, he began riding his bike to Scott Paper on Riverside Avenue, Marinette, asking for a job. He continued this practice for six weeks until they hired him. 

During the 40 years at Scott, he developed a reputation for being tough, but fair.  He demonstrated a strong work ethic and expected the same from the people who worked with him. Big-hearted, he also understood how situations arise and how life can get in the way at times.

It was in 1937 that Bill first set eyes on the love of his life.  He was a sophomore at Our Lady of Lourdes in Marinette when Mary Genevieve Theisen of Porterfield, WI, started classes as a freshman. One of their first dates was at Micky-Lu's in Marinette. Years later, while serving in the Army Air Corps, Mary took over his job at Scott Paper. Mary and Bill married on March 14, 1944 in Walsh, WI. 

Their marriage marked the beginning of a life together guided by their strong faith, devotion to family and desire to be of service to others. In addition to his position at Scott Paper, Bill was licensed with the Wisconsin DNR to do plumbing work. There was always a disassembled water pump in the basement needing a part to make it work better than new, followed by a mandatory watering test in the garden. 

Bill served on the Marinette County Board, was chair of the Forestry, Parks and Outdoor Recreation Committee and president of the Wisconsin County Forest Association. He attended his last meeting as a County Commissioner at the age of 92, having served for 32 years.

Throughout his lifetime he had the opportunity to work with many dedicated people. He was a member of the Catholic Central Athletic Club, Knights of Columbus and Holy Name Society.  He encouraged students to study hard through his involvement with the Scott Hi-Q competition.

Bill and Mary were active in Parish life at St. Joseph's and at Lourdes in Marinette. Working with others, they developed and taught Religious Education for the developmentally disabled. They helped two Vietnamese families relocate to the area, assisting with their individual needs, helping to navigate school and  jobs and together dealing with the Wisconsin weather.

Bill was devoted to family. There were chores to be done, weeds to pick and things to be fixed, but there was always time for games. A deck of cards was never idle for long when the work was done. Cribbage was his favorite--so much so that he inspired three new generations of players.

Lots of summer vacations were spent exploring new places. And he loved music. For Bill, life was always a 15, on a scale of 1 to 10. He had a smile and a firm handshake for everyone he met. Living in the same town, and within a two-block radius for all but the last few years, he came to know many people. Those connections to family and so many friends helped him to live a long, happy and fulfilling life.

A very special "THANK YOU!" to the wonderful people at Luther Manor for treating Bill like family. "The food is good, the roof doesn't leak and the people are nice!" " William Gordon Walker.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to Luther Manor II on Pine Beach Road would be appreciated. Visitation is from 9:00 to 11:00 am, Saturday, February 1st, at Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Taylor Street, Marinette. A Funeral Mass will follow. Hansen Onion Martell Funeral Home of Marinette is assisting the family with arrangements.

Dad, rest in peace with the enduring gratitude, respect and love of your family and friends. 

~ Didn't he teach us well; didn't he show us the way~


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