William (Bill) Donald Stoeckmann, 90, of the “Big Town” of Rock Springs, Wisconsin, passed away on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Bill was born on November 1, 1929, to Reuben and Ida (Rohde) Stoeckmann in Ableman (Rock Springs), Wisconsin. Bill lived his life fully and his antics started young.
Bill identified first and foremost as a pilot. He liked to tell people he got his pilot license before he got his driver license and credited his mother for ensuring he took flying lessons. Bill flew from the age of 16 to 89 and the skies over Sauk County were never the same as he enjoyed buzzing low over the homes of his friends and neighbors dipping his plane’s wings to “wave” hello. And true to his nature, he equally enjoyed buzzing over the homes of those he wanted to irritate even after (or most likely because) they asked him to stop.
Bill graduated from Reedsburg High School in 1947 and, like his father and paternal grandfather, went to work for General Refractories Company at the quarry in Rock Springs (now part of the Ableman’s Gorge State Natural Area). He was drafted during the Korean War and served as part of the U.S. Army Military Police in Japan. Upon his return home from the Korean War, Bill purchased his first of many airplanes, a 1947 Aeronca Super Chief.
It was in this plane that he dated our mother, Judith Margarethe Richards, flying along the Mississippi River to visit her at nursing school in Minneapolis. They married on August 25, 1956. They were married for 33 years and had three children: William Carl Stoeckmann, Diane Margarethe Stoeckmann, and Susanne Margarethe Stoeckmann.
Bill loved music, dancing, and spending time with friends whether playing Dixieland Jazz on his organ from his RV or dancing to big band music at the North Shore Chateau in Devil’s Lake State Park. Bill also shared his love of music with his family. He really enjoyed playing piano with his grandkids while telling them stories of his mother who taught him to play.
After his retirement, Bill enjoyed traveling in his RV all across America with his friend, Joyce Knutson, mainly to drop in for unannounced visits with both friends and family just because he was thinking of them. When he wasn’t in his RV, Bill was flying or thinking up his next business idea. At the age of 61, he started the Rock Springs Artesian Water Corporation, the most successful business of his lifetime, and continued as its President until he passed.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents as well as by his friend, Joyce Knutson. He is survived by his sister Diane (Robert) Hillman of Mesa, Arizona; our mother, Judith M. Stoeckmann of Rock Springs, Wisconsin; his three children and their spouses, William C. (Alison) Stoeckmann of Keystone, South Dakota, Diane M. (Mike) Chalmers of Rock Springs, Wisconsin, and Susanne M. (Mike) Clague of Butte, Montana. He is also survived by six grandchildren: Eric M. Chalmers, Ashley L. (Eric) Meunier, Catherine M. Clague, Laura M. Clague, CJ Stoeckmann, Alex Stoeckmann; and two great grandchildren, Harvey and Cameron Meunier; and his nephew Kirk (Anita) Hillman and his grandniece, Lauren Hillman.
In keeping with his wishes, a private graveside service with military honors will be held at St. John Cemetery in Rock Springs. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department. Our family wants to express our deep appreciation to all of our father’s friends and care providers for their kindness.
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