Life Story / Obituary
William “Bill” Mahnke, age 85, peacefully reached his heavenly goal on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Bill passed away of natural causes at his residence with his loving wife Jude and step-daughter Venise by his side. Bill was a devoted and loving husband, father, stepfather, grandfather, great grandfather and dear friend to many.
Bill was born on January 12, 1935, in Racine, WI, son of Harvey A. and Margaret A. (Frommholz) Mahnke. Bill graduated from Racine Lutheran High School in 1952 where he was a star pitcher for the Crusaders tossing 3 no hitters and 5 one-hitters in his three years on the mound. In 1953, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on active duty as a signalman/quartermaster aboard the USS Waller. Bill’s service to his country continued for 41 years as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, ultimately retiring as a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army Reserve in 1994.
In addition to his sense of duty for his country, Bill was passionate about education. Bill earned his Bachelor of Education degree from UW-Whitewater in 1961 and received his Master of Science degree in Guidance and Counseling from UW-Milwaukee in 1970. Bill was a terrific listener and loved working with young people. Bill also developed a Military Guidance and Counseling Program for U.S. Naval Reserve in the 1970’s at Great Lakes Naval Base. These skills served him and others exceptionally well as he advised countless students over 25 years as a guidance counselor at both Union Grove and William Horlick high schools. Bill also enjoyed coaching the Rebels varsity softball team for many years. After retiring from counseling, he served as an administrator at Concordia College in the 1990’s.
Bill was united in marriage to Janet C. (Gmach) Mahnke on August 31, 1958, a union that last until her death on March 5, 2001.
On April 6th, 2002, Bill was united in marriage to his wife Jude (Voss) Mahnke. Jude and Bill enjoyed years of joy and laughter with a strong presence of family values. They spent many summers living in Florida and enjoyed taking vacations to visit family throughout the country. Bill loved playing golf with his wife Jude, his son Mike, and former colleagues over the years. Bill was a devoted fan of the Badgers, Brewers and Packers. Bill and Jude had a strong presence of faith and were longtime members of the Mount Pleasant Lutheran Church.
Bill was given the hero’s welcome he so richly deserved as he was escorted by his son Mike to take part in the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight from Milwaukee to Washington D.C. in May 2019.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, first wife Janet, brother John and sisters Marjorie (Sjostrom) and Ruth (Schultz).
He is survived by his wife Jude and his step children Venise Voss, Vanessa Voss, Vickie (John) Binzak, James Voss, Jr. and Vashelle (Paul) Brannon, all of Racine, WI.
Also left to rejoice in his memory are his sister Dorothy Croll of Parkville, MD, son Mike (Tonia) of Sun Prairie, WI, daughter Melanie (Joe) Krolak of White Bear Lake, MN, daughter Jennifer (Dale) Ross of Colorado Springs, CO, 14 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and numerous special family members and friends.
The family extends a special thank you to Bruce and Kate Lingsweiler of Mt Pleasant, WI for their compassionate care, friendship and support to Bill over the years. The family would also like to thank Dr. Robert Gullberg of Racine, WI for his many years of dedication to Bill as a primary physician and friend.
Memorial services celebrating Bill’s life will be held at a later date. There will be a private service with Full Military Honors held at the Southern Wisconsin Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery, Town of Dover, also at a later date.