A Family Funeral Home

William Walter "Bill" McIlvaine Sr.

August 16, 1930 - December 1, 2019
Racine, WI



Friday, January 10, 2020
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM CST
Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home
Racine Location
803 Main St.
Racine, WI 53403
(262) 634-7888

AND Saturday at St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church from 11:00 am until time of Mass at 12:00 pm.

Driving Directions


Saturday, January 11, 2020
12:00 PM CST
St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church
1903 Green Street
Racine, WI 53402


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

St. Catherine's High School
1200 Park Avenue
Racine, WI 53403

The Johnny Hemkes Memorial Scholarship Fund
8930 Washington Avenue
Mount Pleasant, WI 53406

Life Story / Obituary


William Walter “Bill”, “Wild Bill”, “Mac” McIlvaine, Sr., passed away peacefully at his home on December 1, 2019, at the age of 89.

He leaves a legacy of a good life, always striving to be kind, and committed to love and peace. He preferred to teach his children by example, demonstrating personal responsibility, honor, principled commitment, and finding and sharing joy and laughter at every opportunity.

Bill was born in 1930 in Chicago to Wynnett and Grace (Kilroy) McIlvaine. He grew up on the then newly developing northwest side of Chicago which he described as “The Prairie”. Many blocks had only one or two houses built, leaving generous room for neighborhood children to roam and play. He enjoyed speed skating in the winter at neighborhood parks and roller skating at rinks. He had some typical and not-so-typical jobs: delivering the shopping news, working at Kraft Foods, at a downtown bank, at a glue and chemical factory, and pouring cement with his uncles. Music was his favorite hobby. He saw a cousin play accordion at a family picnic in Lincoln Park, inspiring him to take accordion lessons for five years. He also learned baritone horn and joined his high school and junior college bands.

Bill attended Onahan School, Taft High School (later of “Grease” fame), Walton School of Commerce, and LaSalle Extension University, after which he became a Certified Public Accountant in 1951. As a young man, he built a house with his uncle in the construction business, later moving there with his wife.

Bill married Bety Mayer in 1954. They had 6 children, Mary (Marc Kinzelman), Bill Jr. (Amy), Therese (Jerry McCarthy), Danny, Jim (Gwendolyn) and Steve, and 10 grandchildren, Dan, Ellen (Géza Hajdu), Katy, Hansen, Lorelei, Kailey, Weston, Blythe, Brody and Kent, and 4 great-grandchildren, Géza, István, László and Elizabeth.

Bill began his CPA career as a traveling auditor with Coopers & Lybrand (a forerunner of PricewaterhouseCoopers), spending weeks or months on out-of-town assignments. In 1958 he took a job at Walker Manufacturing in Racine so that he could be at home more with his growing family. They settled on Blaine Boulevard in West Racine. Therese and Dan were born in the early 1960’s. Sadly, Dan passed away in childhood.

Friends and co-workers will recall Bill’s exuberance for home improvement and beer – both important ingredients in a unique social affair invented by “Wild Bill” – the Garage Painting Party.

From 1969-1972 the McIlvaine family enjoyed a sojourn in then West Germany near the beautiful city of Heidelberg, when Bill accepted an accounting assignment at a Walker subsidiary. He found a musical outlet there with the Musikverein Sandhausen community band. Living in Germany was life-changing for all the McIlvaines there, who subsequently each visited Europe again.

When Bill’s family returned to the Blaine Boulevard house in the early 70’s, they were delighted by the arrivals of sons Jim and Steve. Within a few years, early retirement afforded Bill a wonderful opportunity to be a basketball dad for his two youngest sons. He followed their Optimist, AAU and college games, and later Jim’s pro career.

For decades Bill played baritone with the Zion Band and the Belle City Brassworks. Tuba Christmas in Chicago was a holiday tradition for many years.

Alpine skiing, boating, waterskiing, cards, golf and travel were some of Bill’s other interests. Later in life he found a way to combine some of those interests by putting his golf clubs in his van and heading off for a winter road trip to warmer areas with lots of golf courses, and friends and relatives he could visit.

It could be said of Bill that he never met a dessert he didn’t like. Before the days of speed dial, he had Brusha’s telephone number memorized for the frequent repeat pizza orders on the same evening. He will be missed at weekly Lost and Found restaurant outings. He recently impressed his fellow diners with his ability to consume an enormous steak, not needing a take-home box like everyone else.

Bill was passionate about his Roman Catholic faith, always being actively involved in parish life whether serving at Mass or driving others to church. He was a dedicated and active supporter of the pro-life cause. He also taught Sunday religious instruction, reminding his students that prayer does not have to be formal, but bringing God to mind, whether in appreciation or for help with problems, is the best contact one can have with God.

Bill devoted himself to service to others. He did taxes for many local residents through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). He participated in Respite to give caregivers a break, frequently visiting Harmony Club gatherings. He worked for senior citizens through Skillbank, energetically doing yardwork and shoveling snow at several residences until well into his 70’s.

He overcame some daunting medical challenges with a positive attitude, an active lifestyle, and by ingesting legendary amounts of fresh garlic!

Bill was preceded in death by his children Danny McIlvaine and Therese McCarthy, his ex-wife Bety, special friend Willi Powell, in-laws Nancy and Serge Cenan, Dave Mayer and Jim Terry, and nephews John and Dave Cenan. He is survived by in-laws Theresa Terry, Cathy Beasley Mayer, nieces Debbie Gilreath and Amy Cenan, 3 great-nephews and 3 great-nieces, and a host of devoted cousins. Among his many dear friends are Walt Kozial, Ken Bevery, Bill Lewis, Doris Pirk and Ron Lange.

Bill’s family members extend their deep appreciation and gratitude to his caregivers Cristina, Carl and Carolyn. Dr. Niraj Shah and Dr. Dajun Wang and their staffs, along with the care teams at Aurora Medical Center in Kenosha and Aurora At Home Hospice provided excellent, attentive and compassionate care.

A Memorial Mass will take place Saturday, January 11, 2020, 12:00 p.m. at St. John Nepomuk Catholic Church, 1903 Green Street, with Rev. Richard J. Molter and Pastor Steve K. Varghese co-officiating. Relatives and friends may meet with the family on Friday, January 10th at the funeral home from 4:00 pm until 7:00 pm and Saturday at the church from 11:00 am until time of Mass at 12:00 pm.

Gifts in Bill’s memory can be made to: St. Catherine’s High School, 1200 Park Avenue, Racine WI 53403 or The Johnny Hemkes Memorial Scholarship Fund (to support aspiring high school brass musicians), Community State Bank, 8930 Washington Avenue, Mount Pleasant WI 53406.