Mr. William Henry "Bill" Draeger, Jr., 96, of Oconto, Wisconsin, died peacefully Wednesday evening, July 15, 2020, in the comfort of his home, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born March 6, 1924, in Rapid City, South Dakota, to the late William H., Sr., and Laura (Larsen) Draeger. Bill attended the former Elm Grove School and in the winter months would often ice skate prior to school in the morning to get the wood stove going. He helped his parents on the family farm as a child. Bill was a 1942 graduate of Oconto Senior High School where he was an active athlete, playing football. He served in the United States Army during World War II, stationed in Europe. Bill 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, Bill met the love of his life, Donna Jennings whom he often joked as his “first wife” as a joke. They were married October 6, 1956, at Trinity Lutheran Church, Oconto. He worked in the Milwaukee area at Howard Foundry, American Motors, Kerbel Garage and retired from Schlitz Brewery.
A man of faith, Bill was a member of Lutheran churches in Milwaukee and Oconto, ensuring his family was early in the pews every Sunday. He was a 60-year member mainly of the Germantown and Lena American Legion posts serving as Commander many times. To say Bill was a proud veteran would be an understatement. His service to his country continued following service, driving veterans to Veterans Administration medical facilities in Tomah, the Fox Valley and Iron Mountain, Michigan. Bill was a Deputy Zoning Administrator for the Township of Oconto, often helping his neighbors in the Township submit building permits and served as Supervisor for the Town of Oconto. He proudly encouraged his nephew, Steve Carlin to fill his Supervisor vacancy. “BK”, before kids Bill enjoyed convertible sports cars and motorcycles. He was the proud owner of the First Indian Chief in Wisconsin following World War II. Bill dreamed of flying as a child, attaining a private pilot’s license during, and following his military service. He took up photography while serving in the Air Force and continued that in civilian life. “Wild Bill” as he was known, spent retirement traveling North American trapshooting. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed fishing and hunting, especially for waterfowl in the Horicon Marsh. Over the years, Bill played softball in various legion leagues and participated in league bowling with his wife and friends. The “sign man” as Bill was known, enjoyed various woodworking projects. He was a huge Wisconsin sports fan of the Brewers, Packers and Badgers and even bigger fan of his grandchildren’s sporting events.
Surviving are his wife, Donna; children, Karen Pappas of Milwaukee, Ruth (Todd) Bishop of Crivitz, Anita (Brian Loyd) Draeger and William, III (Karri Spice) Draeger of Oconto; grandchildren, Jessica Draeger, and Jason (Melanie Crain) Grosso of Milwaukee, Robby Bishop and Becky (Sam) Moore of Crivitz, Matthew (Renetta) Detaege of Little Suamico, Melissa (Scott) Garrigan of Lena and Abby Spice of Oconto; great-grandchildren, Owen, Sasha, Noah, Jaxson, Cadence, Garrett, Wyett, Delaney, Dylan, Kayla, Karli and William; sisters, Elsie Caldie, Green Bay and Charlotte Ihde, Oconto; nieces and nephews.
He was also preceded in death by a son-in-law, Dan Pappas; sisters, Mary Carlin and Pat Virch and 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 11:00 a.m. Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Evergreen Cemetery, Oconto. Military rites will be conducted by Lena American Legion Post #342 and the United States Air Force. Interment will follow. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, memorials may 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.
The family extends their appreciation to Unity Hospice for their compassionate care.
Arrangements are in the care of Raymond B. Ackerman, Jr., Funeral Director (877) 310-5558.
Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll,
Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal;
Chart and compass came from Thee:
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
As a mother stills her child,
Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boist’rous waves obey Thy will
When Thou say’st to them, “Be still!”
Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea,
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
When at last I near the shore,
And the fearful breakers roar
’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
May I hear Thee say to me,
“Fear not, I will pilot thee.”
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