William F. Beseler, 89, of Trempealeau, died Monday, December 14, 2015, at his home in Trempealeau.
Bill was born October 25, 1926, in Winona, Minn., to Frederick W. and Lora (Loeschke) Beseler. He was united in marriage to Jane Howard Lafky of Winona on Dec. 18, 1950, at the Methodist Church in LeMars, Iowa. The Rev. Kenneth Clawson, William’s brother-in-law, officiated.
Bill attended Winona Public Schools and after graduating from Winona Jefferson Senior High School he worked as a mariner aboard the Great Lakes iron ore freighter Henry B. Dalton. Later he traveled to Southern California where he worked at South Coast Industries, Costa Mesa, helping the war effort by building military air-sea rescue (ARB) boats. In 1944 he joined the United States Merchant Marine as an officer cadet and trained at the Merchant Marine Academy at San Mateo, Calif. During 1945 he sailed from various West Coast ports, often San Francisco, and made several trips across the Pacific during WW2 aboard the C2 freighter Santa Elisa hauling the food, ammo, medicine and all types of supplies needed by America’s fighting forces. He made stops at Tinian, Saipan, Guam, Okinawa, Australia and other ports, sometimes weathering fierce South Pacific typhoons.
Following World War Two Bill returned to Winona and enrolled at Winona State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. In 1950 he was accepted as a Naval Aviation Cadet, reporting to Naval Air Station Pensacola for flight training. At Pensacola he flew the North American Aviation SNJ advanced training aircraft.
Following his Navy service Bill returned to Winona where he worked selling Singer sewing machines to farm women in the Minnesota and Wisconsin region. Later he worked for Armour Fertilizer in Winona, selling fertilizer to many of those same farm women’s husbands … they were very happy with their Singer machines and this strategy no doubt helped him in his success selling fertilizer. Later Bill worked for the state of Wisconsin in the Health, Education and Welfare Department. Bill also served several terms on the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School Board.
During the 1990s Bill and Jane bought and sold rare and unusual books at the Country Comfort antiques shop in Winona as well as at antiquarian book fairs around the Upper Midwest. They also enjoyed collecting antiques and traveling. Bill and Jane often traveled to the southwest United States and especially enjoyed visiting the Pueblos and attending Navajo rug auctions. They also visited Europe.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Jane; his parents; and his sisters, Edith (Glenn) Starch and Ruth (Kenneth) Clawson; and his niece, Melanie Starch.
Bill is survived by his daughter, Lora M. Beseler, of Trempealeau; three sons, Frederick (Jane Smerud), of La Crosse, Wis., John, of La Crosse, and Paul (Angie Remus), of rural Ettrick, Wis.; also Rose Beseler, of Winona, and Laurie Beseler, of La Crosse; and grandsons, William, Alfred, Steven, Brandon, Benjamin, Warren, Paul, and Ritchie; and granddaughters, Mariana and Alicia; great-granddaughter, Laney Jane; and great-grandsons, Warren, Frederick and Jackson; also nephews, Anthony and John; and nieces, Jennifer, Ann, and Jane. Bill also enjoyed the wonderful friendship of many, especially Helen Wille, of Winona, and Mike Mikrut, of Trempealeau.
A celebration of Bill’s long life will be held on Saturday, December 19, 2015, at the United Methodist Church in Trempealeau with visitation at 9:30 a.m. and memorial service at 10:30 a.m., the Reverend Betsy Ruben-Miller officiating. Military rites will be by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Towner-Little Bear-Arnold Post 1915. Lunch will follow the service.
Memorials may be sent in memory of Bill to Trempealeau United Methodist Church, or Immanuel Methodist Church, Winona, Minn., or to the Shirley Wright Memorial Library, Trempealeau, Wis..
Only Thy Dust
“Only thy dust is here, thy dust …
But when chill May uncloses
Her petals and is June, I feel
A heartbeat shake the roses.
“Earth and the sun were sweet to us,
Green grass and brooks and laughter …
And I cannot think of thee a ghost
Within some strange hereafter.
“Dawn and the hills were glad of us,
Tossed corn and windy meadows …
And I should not know thee as a shade,
Pallid among pale shadows.
“Stars and the streams were friends to us,
Clear skies and wintry weather …
And it was not wraith and wraith with us,
But flesh and blood together.
“Only the dust of thee is here …
But when mine own day closes
I will lie down beside thee, love,
And mingle with thy roses.”
By Don Marquis, From “Poems and Portraits,” 1922