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On November 11, 2020, 9 days after his 78th birthday, William Alfred Ehmke passed peacefully, diagnosed with Covid, at Edenbrook on Bowen St. in Oshkosh, listening to his favorite music. He was content there, thankful for meat, hot food, and plenty to eat. As he was “actively dying”, his friend since 1958, Nancy Mary (Henell) Ellefson, was able to spend 5 precious hours with him, singing, praying, and slipping him sips of his own crafted cranberry wine. From 2000, Bill had proudly refrained from all alcohol.
He was born in Milwaukee, baptized Presbyterian, moving to Winneconne, attending Winneconne schools from 6th grade until graduating in 1961. Bill was the president of the school rifle club, was the yearbook and school photographer, and was involved in lighting, music, and unique entertainment for school and other events. During hunting season, it was not unusual for guns, rifles and cartridges to be in school lockers for trading during class breaks. He was famous for the Egyptian Funeral Barge that opened the Winneconne bridge during peak fishing season, and the coffin he slept in equipped with light and sound. Bill enjoyed using his skills at The Exclusive Company for Mr. G. He attended college at Fox River Valley Extension Center, the University of Wisconsin, and UW-Oshkosh.
On December 21, 1966, he married Norma Jean Stein, and Bassett Hounds were an important part of their family. Bill and Norma Jean made their home in West Bend until her death on May 8, 2002. After Norma Jean’s death, Bill returned to his 3rd generation home on Lasley Shores on Lake Winneconne. Neighbors loved to see Bill walk with his cigar and walking stick; he was always friendly and loved to converse and share stories of a sustainable life on the lake.
Bill worked as a Senior Computer Analyst for Kohl’s Department Stores in West Bend. He was a professional photographer, fisherman, ice fisherman, carp spearer, turtle hooker, raccoon hunter, preparer of smoked fish, and an avid gardener, processing the food he harvested. Bill was a Reiki Master, Tai Chai teacher and crystal expert. His heart, mind and soul were always open to spirituality beyond limits. His collection of 800 catalogued science fiction editions disappeared under the care of the county, as well as other valuable possessions.
He is survived by cousins of his mother who live in northern Wisconsin.
Along with his wife, Bill was also preceded in death by his parents, Alfred and Viola (Fauske) Ehmke.
In Bill’s memory, light the incense and set out some libation upon the altar of life and let the star winds carry us on until dawn.
No formal services will be held. Burial will be in the family plot at Wisconsin Memorial Park, Brookfield, Lot 446, Block 18. Mueller Funeral Home, Winneconne is assisting with arrangements.
If you wish, please submit online condolences to muellerfh.net.