William H. Meister, age 82, a lifelong resident of Lake Geneva, passed away on Wednesday, January 1, 2020 at the MercyHealth Hospital in Janesville, Wisconsin. “Bill” was born on December 25, 1937 in Elkhorn, WI.
Bill was the middle child born to the late Clarence Leroy and Olga Johanna (Nelson) Meister. His siblings included John, Joan, Dorothy and Norman. Bill grew up on Wheeler Street and walked to school every day. He went to school from Kindergarten to third grade at the “Third Ward School” on Henry Street, the current location of the American Legion Hall. Then he finished grade school and middle school at Central on Cook Street and graduated from Lake Geneva High School, class of 1955. They had many neighborhood friends and played with very simple things like an occasional ball, sticks and dirt. Bill was always a hard worker, he had paper routes when he was growing up, worked at the grocery store as the assistant manager until he went to school to become a union carpenter like his father and brothers. Bill saved his money and built his own house with help from his brother John and his father Clarence. He worked for many people and companies including Ronnie Anderson, Scherer and Magill construction. Dad did it all from putting in piers, building forms (usually in the mud) to roofing, hanging doors and doing trim work. Bill always told his grandkids to measure twice, cut once. Bill was referred to as Mr. Congeniality at the work place because he was shy and didn’t talk a lot.
Bill met Vera on a blind date set up by his younger sister Dorothy. Dorothy and Vera worked together at Trostel’s. After a third date, he proposed. Vera laughed at him. Three months later he asked again, this time she said yes. Their wedding date was moved up due to Bill being drafted in the army. They were married January 27, 1962 at First Evangelical Lutheran in Lake Geneva. After completing two years in the service in El Paso, Texas, Bill and Vera returned home to the house Bill had built on South Lake Shore Drive in Lake Geneva. They had two children, Joanne and Sharon.
Bill enjoyed playing pinochle, planting vegetable and flower gardens. He was a lifelong member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lake Geneva and in Slades Corners. Bill did many, many side jobs in addition to always working hard but never missed his daughters’ band concerts, piano recitals and baseball games. Bill also heated his home by wood and chopped all of his wood for 30 years by hand. He was very proud of his extremely low heating bills in the middle of winter. He was a simple man who was generous to others, always willing to help or donate money or his talents. He was very proud of his daughters who both graduated from college and their families. His favorite Father’s Day was the year he learned his oldest two grandchildren were moving to Lake Geneva at the ages 3 and 5. He and Vera spoiled them with love and discipline. Not only did he raise his own two daughters but he was always there for his grandchildren’s events as well, teaching them and encouraging them to always to do their best.
Bill is survived by his two daughters, Joanne (Gil) Gomez of Evergreen, Colorado and Sharon Meister Jolly of Lake Geneva, four grandchildren, Ryan and Kaitlyn Jolly, Xavier Gomez and Kyle Ellison. His surviving siblings include John and Dorothy Meister, both of Lake Geneva, Norman (Valerie) Meister of Dothan, Alabama, many nieces and nephews and close caring friends and neighbors. He was proceeded by Vera, his wife of 48 years, his older sister Joan and his sister in law, Shirley.
Visitation will be at the Derrick Funeral Home on Friday, January 10 from 5 to 8 pm in Lake Geneva. His funeral will be at 10 am at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Slades Corners, viewing prior from 9 to 10 am. Bill will be buried next to his wife Vera at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Lake Geneva and then a luncheon back at the church will follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lake Geneva Dream Team c/o John Swanson and the YMCA in Lake Geneva. The Dream Team gives special needs children an opportunity to play baseball in Lake Geneva. Bill has been a strong supporter of special needs children all of his life volunteering for the Walworth County ARC, donating generously to Lakeland School and to The Dream Team.
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