Funeral services for Willis Andersen were held on Saturday, August 4, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Burke with Pastor Clay Lundberg officiating.
Music was provided by the congregation accompanied by Twylah Ward, organist. Ginger Campbell was in charge of registration. Casket bearers were Michael Whitley, Tom Hall, Mel Juran, Bob Duerfeldt and the members of the Herrick American Legion. Interment was in the Graceland Cemetery in Burke. Clausen Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Willis M. “Bill” Andersen was born in Herrick to Ernest “Mose” and Alma Loudon Andersen March 20, 1931. Bill attended elementary school in Herrick with a few years in Bell, CA. Bill attended and graduated from Burke High School in May of 1949. Basketball was his passion with a few records set in his day.
After graduation, Bill enlisted in the United States Army-the 101st U.S. Airborne Division in Fort Riley, KS in August 1949. He completed his field officer training in 1950 and continued training troops for the Korean War at Fort Riley and later Fort Ord, CA, until November 1951. Bill then transferred to the U.S. Army reserves until April 1957 when he was honorably discharged.
Upon discharge from active military duty, Bill began working with Northwestern Bell and continued working with the company for 40 years. He was a lineman, installer, equipment and office manager.
During his employment with the telephone company, Bill married Mary Kuntz, June 24, 1954 in Ogallala, NE. They moved to Burke in 1962 to continue raising their three girls, Crystal, Teresa and Shelly. Bill was married to Mary for 55 years.
Bill was active in the Burke community, playing slow pitch softball, bowling for Gambles and becoming Mayor of Burke from May 1967 to April 1973. Bill was instrumental in the development of the housing units, maintaining the Burke water tower and starting the first girls softball team with Ed Pravecek to name a few accomplishments. Bill’s passion was his volunteer work for the Burke Fire Department and ambulance crew, alongside his brother-in-law Emmitt Hall and countless friends. Bill was also active with his girls, attending games, track meets and never missing an important event. This tradition carried on with his granddaughter, Gabriella these past five years in Arizona. After retiring from the telephone company, Mary kept Bill busy with his honey- do list, day trips throughout South Dakota and Nebraska, fishing, fixing things, taking care of his lawn/garden, playing cards, occasional trip to the casino and wintering in Arizona. The past five years, Bill became a reverse snowbird spending more time in Arizona with summer trips back to Burke. While in Arizona, Bill began new hobbies of playing Spider Solitaire, putting puzzles together on the computer, gardening and watching the airplanes fly overhead. He enjoyed watching the news, reading the hometown paper, attending Phoenix Suns NBA basketball games and sneaking away for a quick trip at the casinos in the Phoenix area.
Bill was a member of the Telephone Pioneers. He also was a member of the American Legion Allen B. Loudon Post 220 in Herrick for the past 58 years. Bill took pride in belonging to this Legion post named after his uncle.
After a sudden illness and a very brief stay at the Sherman House Hospice unit in Scottsdale, AZ, Bill passed away on August 4, 2018.
Bill is survived by his daughters, Crystal Mitchell, Teresa Andersen and Shelly Liu and granddaughter, Gabriella Liu from the Phoenix area and numerous nieces, nephews and friends in South Dakota and Arizona.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary, son-in-law, Wayne Mitchell; parents, brothers, Lester, Adrian (Wilma); sisters, Imogene (Emmitt) Hall and Marcene (Pat) Whitley, one niece and two nephews.