Bill Morlock

MENOMINIE, Wis. — Bill Morlock, whose warm, fun-loving, and generous nature brought smiles to many faces over nine decades, died Aug. 17 in Menomonie, Wis. He was 92.

During his 40 years in Southwest Michigan, Bill was best known as a longtime salesman at Don Sprung Chevrolet in Berrien Springs, where he earned the trust and business of generations of car-buyers.

In addition to his work, Bill was an active volunteer serving the Berrien County Historical Society; Berrien Springs Senior Center; American Legion Post 85; Jaycees; Miss Berrien Springs pageant as master of ceremonies; and – befitting his oversized personality and physique – as Santa Claus visiting hospitalized seniors and others. Born in 1925 in Toledo, Ohio, Bill faced adversity early on, losing his beloved mother, Anna, when he was 7 years old. As a teenager, he left high school to work in a factory, then joined the Navy during World War II. He served honorably in the Navy Seabees construction corps, primarily in Hawaii.

During a post-war Navy assignment in Chicago, an invitation to spend Christmas with a fellow sailor’s family in nearby Sawyer, Mich., introduced him to Elinor Zeiger. They married in 1947 and resided in Sawyer before moving to Berrien Springs.

Elinor and Bill had three daughters and a son, and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this May.

Bill enjoyed golf, fishing, crossword puzzles and, later in life, watching and feeding wild birds at his daughter and son-in-law’s Wisconsin farm.

He had an endless stock of funny sayings, including this often-repeated goodbye: “I’ll see you in church if the windows are clean.” Once, watching a painfully slow baseball player struggle to circle the bases, he observed: “He runs pretty fast, just all in one place.”

His capacity for humor was rivaled only by his appetite for food. Returning from a Saturday morning “dairy breakfast,” a Wisconsin custom intended to celebrate the state’s agriculture industry, he was asked his opinion. “The food was terrible,” he replied. “And the second plateful was as bad as the first.”

Bill thrived on meeting new people, and was gifted with the ability to find common ground, at least enough for a hearty conversation, with everyone he met.

But his greatest love and source of joy was his family – whom he celebrated with unabashed displays of care and affection.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, brother and sister – and untold numbers of golf buddies.

He is survived by his wife, Elinor Morlock, of Menomonie; daughters Grace Morlock of Longmont, Colo., Jan Morlock and spouse David Heemsbergen of St. Paul, Minn., and Cathy Morlock of Santa Fe, N.M.; son Jerry Morlock and spouse Cindy Spielmaker of Grand Haven, Mich.; and grandson Will Morlock of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Per Bill’s wishes, no public service is planned. The family asks anyone with memories of Bill to share them by email to jam@umn.edu. Responses will be compiled and shared with family and respondents.

The family invites that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in the memory of Bill Morlock to the Shirley Doane Senior Center, 1412 Sixth Street E , Menomonie, WI, 54751.

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