Rev. Robert Williams
MILWAUKEE – Rev. Robert “Bipsy” Edward Williams, 88, passed away peacefully into eternity with God on March 26, 2014, with family by his side at his home, Saint John’s on the Lake in Milwaukee.
Robert was born to the late John and Lydia (Andersen) Williams on May 15, 1925, in Wakefield. He graduated with the class of 1943. Shortly thereafter, he was proud to serve in the U.S. Army in the Asiatic Pacific Theater of World War II.
Robert often joked that he had two careers following the war: “one down and one up.” The first was his time spent working as an iron ore miner at Sunday Lake Mine in Wakefield. He relished his memories of the hard work and the camaraderie he shared with fellow miners.
The second career was his calling to serve God through ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. In 1963, Robert entered the Lutheran School of Theology at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. He completed seminary and was ordained at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wakefield in 1968.
Over the next 23 years, he served congregations at Bethany Lutheran in Norway, Christ Lutheran in Lancaster, Wis., and St. Paul Lutheran in Burton, Wis. After retirement in 1991, Pastor Bob continued to minister as needed by the congregations he and his wife Mary attended during their travels to Mary’s hometown near Carthage, Ill., winter trips to New Mexico, and eventually back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Bob loved his Finnish heritage, and he was proud to be an American. He was forever fond of the place where these two identities came together, his hometown of Wakefield. Even to his last days when his memory had otherwise diminished, he spoke fondly of Wakefield and especially its superb annual fireworks for the July 4th holiday.
Pastor Bob was an avid storyteller, whether it was through sermons from the pulpit or casual conversations over coffee. He is remembered for his loyal service to God, the spiritual guidance and care he provided to countless church and community members, and a creative wit that put a twinkle in his eyes and smiles on the faces of those around him.
Robert is survived by his beloved wife of 50 years, Mary Ann (Wichman); children, Robert (Charlene) Williams, Roger (Mary) Williams, James (Carlos) Williams, Paul Williams, and Carol (Chris) Omernik; a sister, Betty (Carlton) Cook; a brother, Richard (Sonia) Williams; seven grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his loving first wife, Mavis (Tuomisto); and brothers, John (Dawn) Williams, Kenneth (Ruth) Williams and George (Jane) Williams.
The family expresses deep gratitude to the staff of Saint John’s on the Lake and Vitas Hospice for their compassionate care of Robert.
A funeral service was celebrated March 29 at Saint John’s on the Lake in Milwaukee.
Robert’s homecoming to Wakefield and burial will take place in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, donation can be made to “Bipsy’s Buddies” team in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at http://bit.ly/PXXKZI.
The Suminski Funeral Home of Milwaukee is assisting the family.
Expressions of sympathy may be offered at www.suminskifuneralhome.com