Shared by Will Schultz on September 7, 2019
I want so badly to think of the perfect stories to honor my Dad, but I cannot right now. It’s impossible for me to explain the impact he has had, and will continue to have, on my life, but for now there are a few things I’d like to say:

Thank you to everyone who has shared a story, picture, or condolence on this memorial site. I appreciate it so much. I visit every day to check for new stories, read old stories, look through photos, and reflect. My Dad’s passing is undoubtedly the most difficult and painful chapter of my life, and your contributions are helping me through it.

To his friends,
He loved you so much. You made him happy. You’ve been a rock in his life for my entire existence and longer. I’ve grown up with your names, faces, and families, and experienced how much you meant to him.He’d be so appreciative of the stories you’ve shared and proud of the support and laughs you’re giving us, his family. I believe that the friendships he built are just one of the thousands of ways he is taking care of me. He left us knowing you’d be here for his family, and that we’d be in the best company.

To his siblings,
While to me we seemed more distant, I always felt his love and respect for you and the hope to reconnect.He was very proud of you and your families. Reading your stories gives me a glimpse into chapters of his life I hadn't known or explored much yet. I’m thankful to have you all to help me continue to know my Dad.

Will
Shared by George Crist on September 1, 2019
Well I guess I've avoided this long enough. So badly wanting this not to be true but it is.
I could type forever but I won't and don't need to.  Our relationship was sooooo deep that it doesn't require words.  We (you know who you are) had so many wonderful /fun times together.  No one I know had the amount, and more so, quality experiences that we shared.  For that I am grateful beyond words.  The "movie" of our times together keeps playing a loop thru my head......hope it just keeps replaying.  Of course the trade off is that it just makes this so much more painful.  I always felt safe (for someone with a bit of a messy mind like me, try to put a price tag on that) when I was around Bill.  Actually KNOWING that he would be there regardless if he was present was such a benefit and relief.  I am choosing to believe that he is and will continue to be there for me/us.  I'm so grateful that we (the gang) shared our love for each other thru actions and words continually instead of waiting to do so in a tribute such as this.  We lived it. Bill, I am so grateful for your love but miss you so bad it just flat out hurts.  Rest in peace my brother, you did LOTS of good for so many.....mostly me.  Love you so much,  George

Deer Hunt with Bill

Shared by Tom Crist on August 27, 2019
Leslie mentioned in her beautiful recollections of Bill his curt little smile that barely showed, often his mustache curl the only thing giving him away. That made me think back to one of many bow hunting stories I had with Bill.
It’s circa 1989. Bill and I are at the Lakewood cabin. It’s early on a Saturday morning. We have gotten up early, donned our camo clothing, bow and arrows and hip waders and made our way across the icy river to our respective tree stands which were positioned several hundred yards apart.

The morning was cool and crystal clear with not a breath of wind. Just the gentle babbling of the river could be heard in the background. A perfect morning for the hunter to hear all the commotion in the woods as it comes alive with the rising sun. Squirrels scampering about. Beavers periodically slapping their tails in the river. Birds beginning to their morning chatter. And even an occasional grouse weaving through the woods. (anecdotally, I’ve never seen more grouse than I did sitting in a tree stand in Lakewood with a bow and arrow in my hand while rarely seeing one when we were actually grouse hunting with a shotgun!). We’d been in our tree stands at this point about 45 minutes tops. Suddenly I hear the crunch of the dry, fallen leaves, a sound that in my mind is most assuredly that of a big buck making its way toward me. As I squint through the sunlit trees looking for my prey, I see Bill! The first thing to go through my mind is WTF? Bill slowly walks up to my stand and I politely ask him what the hell he is doing. He proceeded to display that little grin and told me he had to get out of his tree to "take a leak"! Really? 45 minutes? I responded by asking why this now involved me? With that same little grin, he suggested that since HIS morning hunt was now ruined, he thought it a good idea that WE head back to the cabin for breakfast. So, with no argument from me (since realistically my hunt was effectively over because every deer in a 5 mile radius by now knew that someone had "taken a leak" in the woods), I descended the tree and the two of us made our way back to the cabin for a breakfast fit for a king. Followed by a nap. Not a bad morning I'd say!

I’ll deeply miss the future stories with Bill, like this one and the others that have been shared, that will now not ever be written. As I said in my earlier letter to Bill, he was a gem that held a special place in all of our lives. 

Fishing with Bill and Jim

Shared by Greg Buckle on August 26, 2019
In her words of praise and love for her big brother, Leslie mentions how Bill selflessly came over to help untangle her fishing line while canoeing in the BWCA years ago. Well it pains me to say that Bill was not always as helpful as he could be.

A friend of mine from grad school (Bruce) and I decided to join Bill and Jim for a week-long trip in the BWCA in the summer of 1980 or so.  Not wanting to get our lines caught and being witless in every aspect of the sport, Bruce and I initially fished in the center of each lake we were in while awaiting Bill and Jim’s arrival a day later. Not surprisingly, we caught exactly one fish. The ultimate demise of this 18 inch Northern is a story for another day (powdered lemonade looks a lot like flour when preparing to fry a fish). 

When they finally met up with us, Bill and Jim suggested we fish along the shoreline. Per their suggestion, we moved closer to the water’s edge. I cast my line, hoping for it to fall just short of a patch of weeds. Instead, it landed in a tree. I told Bruce to pull up his line so that we could get a better angle to loosen mine. He attempted to do so, only to find it snagged on the bottom. Grunting and groaning, he worked his line from a variety of angles with no success. Finally, with one big pull, his line came out of the water and flew backwards towards me, nearly taking out one of my eyes, before the three-pronged lure on its end landed firmly on the back of my burgundy sweater.

Hearing all the commotion, Bill and Jim came over just as I was gingerly taking off my sweater to get at the stuck lure. Seeing the extent of trouble that Bruce and I were in, did they offer their help? No!  Bill and Jim silently and heartlessly paddled away. The smirks on their faces were seen until they disappeared around a nearby island. For the remainder of the trip, Bruce and I were not permitted within 100 yards of their canoe.

My Brother, My Hero

Shared by Leslie Plumlee on August 26, 2019
For the better part of this last week, I’ve been aimlessly wandering trying to put pen to paper and find something, which might ease the pain of losing Bill. I’m lost. Though my heart is broken and my imperfect memories can’t begin to describe my perfect brother, I hope my scattered thoughts bring a smile, a tear, or maybe a bit of insight. I am eternally grateful he was in my life.

Bill was a Champion.
   I was so proud to be one of his five little sisters. He was about 8 1/2 years my senior. 
Truly, there wasn’t anything Bill couldn’t do. To me, he was larger than life. I spent my youth counting his medals and ogling his trophies, hoping I could garner just as many or more. It never happened. Bill set the standard and he set it high. I’d like to think he was the blueprint for all seven of his siblings.
   Bill’s accolades and accomplishments held little meaning and virtually no value to him. Not to be misunderstood, he always played to win and he loved competition, but sport was merely a forum, in which, he challenged himself, embraced the journey, and he forged lasting friendships. It’s a testament that so many friends, whom he met thru sport, have been constant and significant figures in his life for 40, or 50, plus years.
   In the early seventies basketball was at its zenith in Neenah, WI. In our home, Friday afternoons began with Bill taking a power nap, mom waking him, feeding him a quick PBJ sandwich, and shooing him out the door. He frequently walked to his games. Mom firmly believed the lungs should be filled with fresh, cold air. It was a perfect pregame warm-up. Outside temps were irrelevant.
   Sports unified our community and Bill, Russ, and the Crist brothers were at the center of it all. If we weren’t attending the home basketball games, we were glued to the radio listening to the play by plays. The postgame open houses, hosted by the players’ families, were an event, in and of themselves. I have vivid memories leaning out the window at Saint Margaret Mary School, waving our homemade pennants toward Shattuck HS (across the street) as the team bus and the caravan of fans drove off to the State tournaments. I have fond memories of decorating the Schultz Drug Store windows in the spirit of red and white Neenah Rockets. Bill was so cool. He was my brother. He afforded me a special stature with my peers. Bill’s success in sport had an indelibly important influence on me, and he was the pride of my youth.

Bill is forever my Hero.
I said to Ann once, “Bill was my hero” and she replied, “Isn’t he still your hero?

   After forgoing an appointment to the Air Force Academy, where he would have played ball and studied engineering, he opted to attend UW, Eau Claire. As a freshmen starter, he finished runner-up in the National NAIA basketball championship. Shortly thereafter, as fate would have it, he drew a low draft number and headed to Vietnam.
   Bill was extraordinary. He had a gifted mind and exceptional IQ. He was a phenomenal athlete. He was skilled, well rounded, adaptable, educated, and perceptive. He had great empathy. He was brave and strong when others were not, determined, when others quit. He was naturally protective. He was disciplined, but, at times, quietly irreverent. He did what he considered was fair and just, not what was popular or expected. Bill was no one’s fool.
   These qualities are probably why he was assigned to the 7th Radio Research Field Station (RRFS), better known as, “The 7th Rock n Roll Freak Show”. Today, if it still existed, it would be equivalent to the CIA, or Army Security & Intelligence & Reconnaissance. As best I can remember, Bill was located at a remote outpost some 300 miles northeast of Bangkok, known as Ramasun Station in Udorn, Thailand.
   To quote a former vet of the 7th RRFS, “ Troops were not a ‘by the book’ operation and any officer or NCO who tried to make it one was in trouble. The ‘chain of command’ was irrelevant due to the mixture of Army, Air Force, and Marines who staffed the place and whose respect for authority was limited to those who could demonstrate that they knew their specific trade regardless of rank. Clueless Colonels were ignored while Spec’s 5’s who knew their stuff were listened to. All ‘lifers’ started out with two strikes against them. The overeducated troops of Ramasun were sloppy on the parade ground and hopeless in drills, but when it came to the mission nothing could beat them. They always got the job done.”  History suggests the unsung heroes of Udorn provided the kind of information that could have kept us out of Vietnam, but it came too late.
   I attempt to give some context because Bill was profoundly affected by his experiences in SE Asia. There is no denying it, our lives are the sum of its parts and it wouldn’t be honest not to recognize the sacrifice Bill made and the commitment he kept during a maddening complex, insane, period in our country’s history. Had he accepted his appointment to the Air Force Academy, maybe the war  would have ended before he was commissioned. Then again, as Bill evolved, he clearly understood the insanity of it all. He said to me once, “if my son is ever drafted, I’m taking him to Canada.”
   Lynn so eloquently alluded to my brother’s difficult transition upon his return. Yes, coming home offered its own brand of trauma. We didn’t have a name for PTSD and we didn’t understand survivor’s guilt. It gives credence as to why Bill’s relationships were deeply meaningful and so critical to him. He didn’t waste time on the inconsequential stuff in life.
   When I was a junior in high school, Bill took me to the movie, The Deer Hunter. He didn’t make it thru the movie and my heart broke as I watched his trembling hands try to light a cigarette. No words can describe what I couldn’t begin to understand
   I will never regret making late night runs to the gas station for cigarettes or the few times we went to the Eagles, in Neenah, for a drink. I won’t forget getting up a night and finding him tying knots, or waking to the smell of garlic thru out the house. Bill was an old soul when he returned home. He carried with him the loss of fifty-eight thousand peers who weren’t as fortunate. Bill needed a lifeline while he was trying to be everyone else’s lifeline. For a long time, he financially supported families of lost buddies, sat with friends thru bouts of cancer and tried to protect buddies from themselves. As my brother Russ said, “Bill was a fixer, and he couldn’t fix this unforgivable mess”. Just like my mother, he was a caring, giving, highly altruistic, human being.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” Khalil Gibran

   A true hero is self-sacrificing, takes risks and faces loss. A true hero is extraordinary, humble and serves others. What more could Bill possibly do? I am so grateful for all the
friends and family, who understood Bill’s silence, shared his pain, and navigated the years with him. He was, for a chapter in his life, a tortured soul, but a blessed one too.
Yes, Ann, I stand corrected. Bill is forever my hero.

Bill, Ann and his family.
   Bill was the firstborn of eight children and he was a classic firstborn. He was independent, a leader, a caretaker, a protector, and he worked hard. Yet, nothing pulls at your heartstrings more than your firstborn. Your first-born is your test kitchen and mom had a very special relationship with Bill.
   When Bill left for Vietnam, I watched my mother’s hair turn gray before my eyes. I watched thru a window as she had long conversations with herself. I watched her carefully pack care boxes full of cheese and sausage and our tape recordings. I felt my father suffer in silence as he, himself, had lost his only brother during WWII. It was a time of sadness and tension.
   When Bill returned home, I watched mom and dad hurt for him as he tried to find his way. The passage of time took its toll on my parents who naturally wanted the best for their first child. But, your past does not determine who you are. Your past prepares you for who you are to become.
   I remember mom saying, with great sorrow, how she would never find peace until she knew Bill was settled. She hoped he would find a companion that he could walk through life with. She wanted Bill to have someone to grow old with and build a future. Together, they could be a witness to each other’s lives. Bill found that in Ann.
   I’m not certain there’s anything I can add to what has already been said, except that every word, every description, of Ann and the kids and what they meant to Bill, is true. Bill may have been the rock upon which, Ann built their lives together, but Ann was absolutely his compass. Or, as Lynn stated so perfectly, Ann was his ballast. Never have I witnessed more pure joy and happiness than when Bill smiled at Ann or when both of them stood with their children and grandchildren. The family is a reflection of all that was important to Bill.
   Bill soaked up all the good in life after he met Ann and he found a way to be at peace with himself thru Ann. I think Bill left this earth a content, complete human being, thanks to Ann.

“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation”

Music.
Music, so often, connects us to time and place and especially people. I remember so many of the artists Bill loved and the albums he listened to. Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton, Van Morrison, George Harrison, Bob Marley are just a few musicians Bill loved. There are definitely songs that take me right to Bill.
   I think Bill would play this song for Ann because I think he would want his wife to “dance again”.
Harvest Moon, by Neil Young.
   And if his children should ever wonder what was the classic “Bill music” that I was privileged to grow up with, I would listen to the entire album,
Tea For The Tillerman, by Cat Stevens. That was definitely classic Bill. But, then, I could go on and on.

Bill was selfless and reliable.
   I called Bill from Indiana when my son, Marshall, was competing in an AAU basketball tournament in Minneapolis. Some scoundrels cut the lights in the gym and pilfered everyone’s backpacks, shoes, and gear under the cloak of darkness. I called Bill and he immediately drove to the venue and reassured his nephew, gave him a few bucks and made sure he had everything he needed. Bill never, for a moment, considered the incident an imposition. Years earlier, Bill said to me before I left for college, “I am just one phone call away, no questions, no judgment, just call, and I’ll come”. Bill was always “Golden” about that.

Not Boundary Water Worthy.
   When I was in college, Bill was kind enough to take several of us to the Boundary Waters. He meticulously packed and planned every detail of the trip. I don’t remember the drive up, but Bill was a bit miffed when we polished off half the food before we arrived. I, in turn, was perturbed when he had me portage a canoe for the length of a football field. I never heard the word “portage” before, yet alone ever carried a canoe on my head. When I caught a Walleye, Eve persuaded me to throw it back because it looked sick. After all, its eyes were kind of “bulgy”. Yes, Bill was a bit dumbfounded by us and yes, he had to save us on a few occasions when he heard our laughter turn to screams. He paddled over when we couldn’t get our fish in the net, yet alone, in the canoe. There may have been a bit more commotion, when he had to come untangle our fishing lines because we cast them into a beaver’s nest. Surprisingly, angry beavers can be very loud. Bill rolled with us, never criticized us, but he gave us that patented grin, the one where his mustache curls ever so slightly, that said, “You are an idiot.” The trip wasn’t complete bedlam, but we did rock his utopian world. As a gesture of his love, he gave me the mattress with the leak in it.

Bill had attitude.
   When Bill was in junior high, Mom told a story when she was called into the Principals office at Saint Margaret Mary's to discuss his behavior. My mother asked Sister Columbine, "What did Bill do?" Sister said, "Well, nothing yet, but we don't like the way he looks at us. We know there’s something going on in his mind" My mother replied, "for Pete’s sake, call me when he does do something." Bill’s nonverbal communication was priceless. Mom never did convert to Catholicism.

Bill had a youthful edge.
   In his youth, Bill did a lot of things with reckless abandon. Let’s say he approached life passionately. Sometimes Bill let me spot for him when he took friends water skiing. Once,
while chasing seagulls, he hit the whitecaps so hard I was ejected from the boat. I wasn’t confident he would come back for me, but he did and I continued to adore him. When Bill was a lifeguard at the Neenah pool, I lived there for hours on end, auditioning for his attention. During swim lessons, in order to pass life saving, you had to make floats out of your clothing, which, of course, you had to remove while treading water. Bill layered three sets of clothes on me just for fun. So much fun he had with me, I completed Sr. Lifesaving by the age eleven. The day Bill stopped lifeguarding, I moved onto tennis. I lost my reason for hanging at the pool.
   The winter brought with it new activities. Russ and Dennis restored dad’s old iceboat and they would get it going so fast, it would actually start heeling. For posterity, Bill once tied me to the mast and cross plank, just in case I couldn’t hang on. Bill also introduced me to ‘hooky-bobbing’ and few other things I better not mention. Winters in Wisconsin were never dull and never spent indoors.
   The memories of Bill and his friends lighting Roman Candles or exploding M80’s in pop cans off the dock and at the cabin was exciting but deafening. Watching him shoot grackles from his bedroom window with his BB gun was classic teenage Bill. And when it came to machinery, the more power the better. I watched him rip the recoil pull-cord out of a lawnmower, a chain saw, and the aluminum boat motor. Three times was not charming to my folks. Bill never did this out of anger, he simply never recognized his own strength and he wasn’t known for finessing things. Maybe this sheds some light on his golf game.

Bill was ornery.
   There are times in your youth that are indelibly marked in your memories for no significant reason, except maybe the adrenaline was flowing in that moment. I’m not sure why, but Bill was at the center of many of them. Our home was relatively calm when mom was at the helm, but when mom left, all hell broke loose. So much so, it wasn’t unusual for a neighbor to come over to see what the heck was going on.
   It was commonplace for Bill to grab two of us at a time and throw us outside in a snow bank with nothing but our pajamas and bare feet and then lock us out of the house. Just for sport, Bill might walk by and grab us by the neck and pretend to flush our heads down the toilet. Oh yes, we would scream when our hair touched the water. Poor Sue, she had the longest hair. If that wasn’t enough, Bill seemed to find great fun in “hog-tying” Chad and me. Unlike hogs, he would tie our hands and feet behind our backs. I know I was crying, but at the same time, hysterically laughing, as he tickled me to death. He would leave us hog-tied all morning while mom grocery shopped. When she arrived home, she looked at us like we were these cute little packages. She had no idea what was going on and that was not the response we hoped for. Looking back, I don’t think Bill ever had any space, any peace and quiet. But that was true for all of us.
   It was classic Bill to sneak thru the woods at the Lakewood cottage and begin stomping and making bear noises only to petrify us. We all ran like rats, but one sister, who shall remain nameless, always sat down and cried. I found that very peculiar. When Bill played catch with me, it always devolved into a game of chicken to see how long I could stave off his fastballs.
   My first black eye came as a result of Bill chasing someone down the hallway (probably Russ). When I turned the corner from the opposite direction, I caught someone’s fist in my eye. It was my siblings’ sage advice to go and hide in my bed. The next morning, my eye was black and swollen shut. Mom blew a gasket. Another chase ended with one of us going thru the gun case window. Usually, the chases ended in the same bathroom where you could quickly pull open a big drawer and block the door. I remember Chad getting his head split as the corner of the door caught him (he was too slow) and I remember the door jam breaking when Bill threw his shoulder into it as Russ tried to block him out. I thought, now you’ve done it.
   To make a point, mom went after Bill with a horse whip, around they went thru the house and out of the house, thru the living room, kitchen, garage and back thru again, in one big circle. It was funny but not funny. I knew she would never catch him. At some point the tables turned and Bill was chasing mom with the horsewhip. I thought Karma had come for Bill, but no such thing. It was all great fun.

Bill played the trumpet.
   He was really good. I can’t remember with whom, but Bill would have an occasional jam session with his friends. Russ assured me, it wasn’t with him, as he never quite mastered the tenor sax. I do remember Bill physically pulling his lips out of his braces after practicing the trumpet. That was dedication.
   Anyway, I can attribute my lack of any measurable musical aptitude to Bill and my older siblings. If it wasn't for the four older sibs hanging out at Mertz's candy store, in   lieu ofattending band lessons, I might have had a chance to play. When the band director saw the last name, Schultz, on the try-out roster, I was immediately dismissed. To my knowledge, the remaining four Schultz children never played an instrument. Go figure.

On Brothers and Sisters.
   Our sibling relationships may vary between each of us, but the truth is, it's based on eternal, unconditional love, forged amid the struggle of growing up together in a relatively small space. And, although we've taken different paths, Bill was always there if we needed him.

LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS THE SAME
Grown from the same strong root,
Nurtured, protected and cared,
Life moves on, and the truth is not pleasant,
Life takes them to opposite directions,
Siblings do not always remain together,
They have to follow different paths,
Just like the branches of a tree,
They spread out in different directions,
To grow, develop and rise,
But in their connected hearts,
The attachment and affection remains,
Love grows each day, to remain forever.

Chitrangada Sharan

Lessons I learned thru conversation, observation, and/or at my expense.
Clearly, in no particular order, these are little nuggets of truth Bill left with me.

• Hold on for dear life.
• Don't take yourself too seriously, you're going to be humiliated and teased
throughout your lifetime, hopefully, solely, by your loved ones.
• When challenged, step up, don't dare to back down.
• Don't cheat at Monopoly.
• Put others first, selflessly serve. Provide. Be independent. Protect independent
thought. Be self-sufficient.
• Pick-up sticks can double as weapons. Run fast.
• Work hard. Play hard.
• Be cynical and a bit irreverent, it’s a sign of intelligence.
• Keep your ponytail in a bun.
• Quitting is not an option. Survive. Mental toughness trumps talent, it will get you to
the finish line.
• Play lots of cribbage.
• Beautiful things come from driftwood. Be kind.
• Contemplate over a cup of hot Wassail and a puzzle.
• Hi-Q is for idiots (he never had to say that).
• Nonverbal communication is powerful.
• Never play Egyptian Ratslap or War with a man with big, quick, strong hands, stick
with the game of Spoons.
• Before floating down a river, tie the cooler to your inner tube. Go camping when
you’re young.
• Whatever IT is, it's bigger than you.
• Know your strength, work on your weakness. Learn to tie your own skates.
• Never trust the government.
• Can't sleep, macramé.
• Cling to something that brings you back home again.
• Some relationships have but a season in your life, cherish them. Move forward.
• Ease others pain, it will help ease your own.
• Give unconditionally, love unconditionally, love truly. Family first. Friends are family.
• Be there, no questions asked, no need for explanation. Be there, again. Loyalty.
• Find your soul, your harmony and solace, in the great outdoors.
• A smile, a grin, is not necessarily the same thing.
• Create a sanctuary and love the life you live. It is what it is.

In memory of my beloved brother,
William Charles Schultz.


My Brother

Shared by Russell Schultz on August 24, 2019
I have delayed writing because by doing so I have to acknowledge that my big brother is gone.
Our paths crossed so infrequently over the past several years that it only seems natural to be able to see him sometime down the road. But no more.
It may be selective memory but I honestly can not remember ever having a conflict with Bill except perhaps when we played basketball against each other (which I avoided as much as possible).
Bill had a patented baseline power move that cost many a defender a split lip, chipped tooth or I'm certain some broken jaws. Bill was an All State high school basketball player. He was offered an appointment to the Air Force Academy ( one of the best engineering schools in the country) to play basketball at a division one level. He turned this down and decided to go to Eau Claire and walk on to the number one small school team in the nation. There he fought his way (literally) into the starting line up and played in the national championship game. Unfortunately this was cut short at only 1 year when he drew the number 7 in the draft lottery. The next 18 months were spent in Southeast Asia (a difficult time in his life).
He returned and joined Jim, Greg and I at Minnesota.
After completing his engineering degree at Minnesota he joined Linda and I in Colorado. There for the next year or so we spent many great times skiing, hiking, etc. One memorable trip was to the Wind River Range in Wyoming. Our father and younger brother Chad were along. I believe Bill as usual carried 90% of the load.
Bill then returned to Minnesota which is where our paths diverged. Family responsibilities and life took us in different directions.
We did enjoy a boundary water trip with the rest of the gang and included two of my sons, Matt and Jason. There memories of Bill were built on this one trip and they have told me they will never forget what a great guy he was.
I had always thought we would reconnect in these coming years and create new memories with our children and grandchildren.
I regret that this will not happen but will cherish my memories and will continue to have my Big Brother as my role model and try to emulate his love and compassion for others.
Goodbye Bill
Shared by Lynne Crist on August 23, 2019
I met Bill in 1974 when he returned to the U.S. after his military tour in Southeast Asia. He was quiet, at times brooding, but always a fun and willing wingman for his U of M roommates Jim, Russ, and Greg. I became a fan.  

Bill was thoughtful and wise beyond his years. He was a bit inscrutable back then, or at least to me. I can only imagine the dislocation Bill felt as he jumped back into college after serving in the Vietnam War. I respect how hard he worked to re-enter the civilian world and to recalibrate his life. (His U of M friends helped him “recalibrate” plenty at Sergeant Preston’s, the Improper Fraction, and Bullwinkle's Saloon.) 

When Ann entered the picture, Bill’s life stabilized and flourished in the best possible way. He loved Ann completely, and she was his ballast for over 30 years. Kellen, Kristin, Will, and Lauren brought Bill joy and an enduring sense of purpose. Together with their own spouses and children, they are the reflection of Ann and Bill’s love.

If Ann was Bill’s ballast. and I was Bill’s fan, Jim was Bill’s sidekick. Ann and I believed the guys had their own language, or more accurately, their own form of telepathy. They’d work on improvement projects at our house, or George and Peggy’s condo, or the Two Harbors cabin in virtual silence. They were always in sync — measuring, sawing, hammering, painting, all to a Clapton soundtrack, but with no apparent communication.  If Ann or I ever tried to help (ha!), they’d wonder why we needed explanations or directions. I could hear Jim mutter, “Bill would know what to do.” In fact, that became a family joke with Amy and Jeff. Bill, the BFF, always knew what to do. 

Bill was so capable and caring, it did seem he always knew what to do. His empathy and instincts were pure. More than once, Bill showed up unannounced at just the right time. He’d commiserate after a tough break-up, offer support at a loved one’s funeral, or sit patiently with you in a bleak waiting room. (Specifically, in Methodist Hospital's cardiac surgery waiting room on July 24, 1999.) He would offer a hug and a sympathetic ear and somehow right the ship. 

Looking back at our youthful adventures (see: jeep photo) and thinking about recent activities with Bill and Ann (travels to Boston and Vermont to see Greg and Donna, plays at the Guthrie Theater, lectures at the U of M), I understand how blessed Jim and I were to have a friend like Bill. With lives upended by Bill’s sudden passing, it’s our turn, unfortunately, to recalibrate. We're going to miss you, Bill.

Turning to Clapton, "lately I’ve been running on faith..."




My Letter to Bill

Shared by Tom Crist on August 21, 2019
Dear Bill,                                                                                                                           

As I have thought about the tremendous level of grief expressed by so many as the news of your passing has sunk in, the words of Joni Mitchell keep coming to my mind. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”. You were not flashy. You never ever called attention to yourself. You never passed judgement on others regardless of the situation. What you did do was quietly listen, empathize, offer suggestions, and simply supported all of us in a way that was uniquely yours. While I appreciated that support, and loved you and thanked you for it, it was often so subtle that perhaps I am just now realizing how damned important you were in my life.

Mary Jo asked me to think about what it was about our friendship that was most driving my feelings of such deep and visceral loss over your passing. Boy, what a question! Hold on while I dry my keyboard! My best answer (selfishly) is that you and both of your “cabins” offered an escape for me from all the other complications that I faced in my life. You opened your heart and doors (literally and figuratively) and provided a safe haven for me to just be real and unguarded. And in my mind, I think I always knew that when something was wrong you would have a way to make me feel better about it if not fix it. Often that involved nothing on your part but a listening ear and an empathetic “I get it”. In short, you made me feel a bit more secure knowing you were there. I only hope that in some way I gave something back to you.

You truly were my third brother. You were a gem that I will miss deeply for the rest of my life. I will draw on your strengths by thinking about WWBD – What Would Bill Do - when future challenges come my way. I am and will continue to be a better person for having had you in my life for the past 32 years. And that is a legacy that all of us can only hope for. RIP my friend!

Love you man,

Tom

My Big Brother

Shared by Sue Weber on August 21, 2019
Bill being the oldest and I being #5 our paths did not cross that often recently. I do know Ann, that when you came into his life it was life altering for him. He loved Kellen and Kristin as his own and when Will and Lauren were born I have never seen such pure joy. We use to laugh that he would never put you (Will & Lauren) down. If he could put his kids in a time capsule he would have.

I have many memories of my brother Bill and there are two I would like to share. They may seem silly but, they were very impactful to me. These memories resonate with what others have said about my big brother.

I was a junior in high school and our Grandpa Close past away suddenly. It was my first experience with losing someone who was so close to us. I was a blubbering idiot at the funeral. I was totally lost. My big brother Bill grabbed me and held me so tight I was crying into his leather jacket. I can still see the tears. The warmth and security I felt can not  be described. Thank you Bill for that selfless act. It meant so much to me.

The second memory took place the night before I married my husband Gordy. Bill decided to take my future husband and his brother out. I think it was a spontaneous bachelor interrogating party. When he got back that night he came into my bedroom and woke me up. Again, he gave me that bear hug and told me Gordy was a good guy. The warmth and calmness he brought with that hug cannot be described. Thank you Bill for that selfless act. It meant everything to me. And you were right Gordy is a good guy:)

My big brother Bill was a selfless, caring, loving man. You knew he always had your back. I'll miss him but, I will forever feel the warmth of those hugs. 
Shared by Jim Crist on August 21, 2019
In talking with Bill’s family and friends over the past few days, the same adjectives keep coming up - gentle, kind, loyal, loving, helpful, generous, patient, thoughtful. He certainly was all of those things, and more, but what always stood out for me was his love for Ann and all of their children and, more recently, their grandchildren. Bill was so very proud of Kellen, Kristin, Will and Lauren, as he should have been. They are all wonderful, talented people. And there is no question that Ann was the love of his life.

Having known Bill for 50 years, I have countless stories and memories of my dear friend. Yet I find it difficult to relate a single story that defines the man we all loved and cherished. One that comes to mind involves his golf game. Lest we conclude that Bill was perfect, I can attest to the fact that he was, at best, an average golfer. And for me, the highlight of his golfing career happened at the Lakewood, WI course many years ago. Bill, George and I were on the 18th hole and Bill was 10-15 feet off the green, which normally means one chip and 1-2 putts. Chipping was never his strong suit and he proceeded to chip the ball across and off the green.He walked to the other side of the green and, once again, chipped it back over the green. At this point George and I exchanged a quick glance but neither of us said anything for fear of breaking Bill’s concentration. His third shot was a carbon copy of the first two shots. George and I allowed smiles to appear, but we continued to wait for Bill to get on the green. I’m afraid we had to wait a while as shots 4, 5 and 6 also flew back and forth over the green. Shot 7 finally stuck, but neither George nor I witnessed it as we were both lying on the ground, laughing uncontrollably. But not surprisingly, Bill handled this with the grace and calmness that he always displayed when faced with adversity. He didn’t swear, he didn’t throw his club, he didn’t beat George or me with his wedge, which he had every right to do. He simply smiled, pulled his putter out of his bag, and finished the hole. For me, this epitomizes the type of person Bill was. He was cool, calm and collected and happy to be with friends doing something that he enjoyed.

In going through the hundreds of photos we have of Bill, it struck me that we have only a handful that were taken indoors. Every other picture is set in the outdoors - canoe trips, kayaking in Alaska, backpacking trips, Canadian fishing trips, golf outings, North Shore state parks. When I think of Bill, I think of all the wonderful adventures we had while enjoying the great outdoors, usually with friends and relatives. (I am going to include sitting on the porch at Ann and Bill’s cabin as an outdoor adventure. The porch was not enclosed, so technically, we were not indoors, and our cribbage games and philosophical discussions were certainly adventures.) Although he never said it in so many words, I know that being in a canoe on a wilderness lake, kayaking along the face of a glacier, carrying a pack up a mountain pass or sharing dinner around a campfire was Bill’s spiritual connection to the universe.

A few weeks ago Lynne and I were out with several other couples and I mentioned how fortunate I am to have a number of friends who I can call any time, day or night, and know they will be there for me if I need help or support - no questions asked, no hesitation. Bill was the first guy on my list. And I know for a fact that he was at the top of many other people’s list. I am so grateful to have had Bill as a friend and I will miss him for the rest of my life.

Shared by Greg Buckle on August 20, 2019
To Bill’s Family and Friends,

I cannot imagine, and in fact, refuse to acknowledge a world without Bill. Donna, an excellent judge of character if there ever was one, has always thought that Bill was the kindest and most thoughtful person that she has ever known. Over the last 45 years, various combinations of Bill, Jim, Tom, George, myself, and, occasionally, Russ, engaged in many activities ranging from spectacular kayaking and backpacking trips in the West and Alaska to uncounted canoe trips to the BWCA (the land of rocks, water, and trees) to even more uncounted trips to Bill’s Lakewood and Two Harbors’ cabins. Our times together also included various cross country ski outings and races and bird hunts both in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Add to this list the many golf rounds, and basketball and tennis games that we enjoyed and you see why Bill played such a prominent and impactful role in my life.

A few hours ago, I received an email from Jessica and Geoffrey (my kids) telling me they had made a donation to the Friends of the BWCA in Bill’s name. Included in their note was the following:

We're so sorry to hear about Bill. We all have fond memories from our trips to Minnesota and his presence has loomed large in all the stories and slideshows you've shared. We know there's not much that can be said or done to ease a loss of such longtime and dear friend, but we wanted to just let you know that we're thinking of you and his family. 

What sticks out from this kind gesture are the words “loomed large.” Together with Jim, Bill’s presence has loomed over my life since our first meeting in 1974. Let me take you back to that time and then share some of the memories that have washed over me ever since that call came that shook me to the core as no other one that I have ever received.

The year is 1974 and Jim and I are in the same ecology class at the University of Minnesota. I had just moved to Minneapolis. Students in the class had to choose one of four labs to participate in. Jim and I both chose the lab we expected the fewest people to pick: burying a dead mouse and following the parade of animals that feed on it over time.After working with Jim for a short time, I mentioned my love of basketball and my longing to start playing pick-up games again. Jim tells me that he and his roommates (whom I later learn were Bill and Russ) played Saturday mornings at Cooke Hall.

Little did I realize how this kind invitation would come to change my life. Saturday morning comes and I show up at Cooke Hall. Eventually, Jim drags himself in. Bill and Russ (as well as Jim) had too much to drink the night before. The two of them felt no obligation to join Jim, not knowing me. Let’s just say that Jim paid the price later that day. I bring up this story mainly to make the point that in the 45 years that I knew Bill, this was the only time he failed to show up, in person or otherwise, for an event or support.

A sampling of my many other memories….

We’re playing in a pick-up game on the St. Paul campus circa 1975-76, and I employ my patented rebounding move. Bend the knees, go down, stick out my butt to clear the area behind me, then propel myself upwards. Unfortunately, my clear out move did not work and my head collides with the front teeth of a much taller person who was hovering over me. Prolific amounts of blood pour from my head. Bill takes one look at the cut, proclaims the injury will “eventually be above the tree line,” and drives me to the infirmary for stitches. He was right!

We are playing the U of M baseball team in an IM basketball game. I’m getting pushed around by one of the players.Bill decides to rectify the situation. He and the bully grab a rebound at the same time. Both are holding the ball so tightly that Bill is able to flip the guy and slam him to the floor.As the bully gathers himself, I mosey over and tell him “Take that you SOB.” At that same or another IM game, Bill warms up by slamming down dunks, a heretofore rare warmup exercise. Then I look around. Ah, the girlfriend is here to watch the game.

Bill, myself, and others head back from the Lakewood bar in his Jeep after a night of refreshments. Songs from Bella Donna by Stevie Nicks are blasting on the radio. It’s a full moon, so Bill decides we need to take a detour. We drive off the road and onto some farm fields.We are thrown left and right as we cross the furrows of the field. A frivolous memory, but oh so much fun. Crazy unforgettable actions of college kids.

Bill gets a telephone call from me in Kansas telling him that I just got dumped by a Sue, a first name that he is quite familiar with. Bill jumps on a plane and flies to Lawrence, KS where we talk and play several rounds of golf. I’ m cheered up by Bill, but depressed by my golf. Call it a wash.

Bill, Donna, and I meet up at Keystone to ski. Bill and I are intermediate skiers and keep to the blue slopes. Donna is a step below beginner but is giving the sport a good college try on the green slopes. The snow is wonderful. Bill suggests we join Donna for a few runs. I tell him I’m not going to waste such good conditions on green runs. Bill insists, not wanting to leave Donna alone, and I relent, complaining the whole way. Donna hears of our debate. I’m forever #2 in her eyes.

I tell Bill on a Thursday that Donna and I are getting married the next day in Chicago. Bill drives down from Minneapolis by himself on Friday and chaperones Donna’s mother, Billy, and Aunt Faye through the streets of Chicago.This image is unforgettable. Bill is taller than Billy and Faye, even when the two are stacked on top of one another.Bill does a wondrous job of slowing down his step and reducing his stride to keep abreast of Billy and Faye. At the wedding, Bill doubles as best man and maid of honor. My parents, Billy, and Faye join the Bill fan club. I later study the wedding photos taken by my mother. Donna has a bigger smile with Bill than me. I’m used to it.

A pickup game takes place in Neenah prior to some wedding. The three Crist boys and Schultz siblings (men and women) are all present. I’m the shortest guy on the court yet my “strength” (and I use that term loosely) is rebounding. The first shot bangs on the back of the hoop and goes up. Leslie’s future husband, Perky (who is 6’ 9” or so), blasts through the lane, grabs the ball as it heads upward, and slams it down. Bill, always worried about my well-being, comes over to me and suggests I stay on the outside the rest of the game.

I never go somewhere without leaving an item or two (or three) behind. When I travel with Donna, she quizzes me to see if have left anything, then checks herself. Repeated instances of the same behavior on my outings with Bill drove him to become my surrogate Donna. My forgetfulness became so routine that he eventually prepared a package for mailing my left behind belongings prior to every trip.

Oh, there are so many more memories but these can await other times. Let me end with this.

I am not the easiest person to travel with. I suspect this is the reason George calls me “Gladys.” Yet in all the years we have been together, Bill never complained about some of my odd behaviors. He was always willing to go along with almost anything. Give him a choice and he would invariably say “I don’t care.” Which, as an aside, is why Jim and I simultaneously fainted when Bill actually expressed a preference for the Skinny Pancake restaurant when the three of us and our spouses stopped in Montpelier VT for lunch two years ago.

When Jim called me yesterday, I had a hard time processing what he was saying. Toward the end of our conversation, at a loss for words, I said something inane about having lost only a few friends over the years. “But this is Bill,” Jim said. In the 90’s I lost my two closest elementary and high school friends to AIDs and leukemia. But Jim was right. This hit harder than any other death, owing to who Bill was and our shared experiences spanning 45 years. Bill’s death will hang over my remaining years like none other. My life, and those of his close friends and relatives, will be impoverished by his loss. This is something that none of us expected or envisioned. We were supposed to grow old and continue our tradition of getting together on a regular basis into our 70’s.Bill’s death does not stop this but makes it much harder.

I have not talked much about you, Ann, and your and Bill’s kids in this letter. Life has been made much harder and more barren for all of you. There is no sugarcoating this. We would go to any lengths to help in any way possible.

What I have tried to convey in this letter is the profound depth of gratitude that I and others have for Bill’s presence in our lives.He was one of a kind who gave us so many wonderful memories. He will be sorely missed. I am so sorry we have lost him.

 

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