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William (Bill) Henry Manke

William (Bill) Henry Manke, of Onalaska, passed away on Wednesday, October 16th at the Onalaska Care Center.

Bill was born on October 1, 1914 to William E. and Emma (Halderson) Manke.  He attended school through eighth grade at St. John’s School, and then he stayed home to help on the family farm in Barre Mills, Wisconsin as his father had passed away at a young age.

On June 26, 1941, he married Gretchen L. Heider.  They moved to her parents’ farm in West Salem and continued to farm until semi-retiring to Onalaska in l976.  He was fond of farming with horses before transitioning to tractors.  They had a self-sufficient family farm with cows, pigs, and chickens.  He was so proud to have his son, Roger, and his grandson, Ryan, take over the farming operation.

Bill had a full life and brought so much joy to those around him.  He had the most beautiful eyes with the best smile and a great sense of humor.  There was always a contentment with life…”He knew how to make his own fun!”  In his later years, he so enjoyed playing ”500” with family and friends.  He became known as “No Trump, Bill” with his bidding.  Bill was a most loving, patient, and caring husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and a friend to many.  He was very proud of his family and he will be missed greatly! 

Recently, Bill celebrated his 99th birthday with family and friends.  One of his comments was, “This is the best birthday ever!”  He was so happy to see everyone.

Survivors include four children.  Kathleen (James) Hahn of Waukesha, WI, Roger (Sara) Manke of West Salem, WI, Karla (Philip) Johnson of Holmen, WI, and Karen (Roger) Utnehmer of Sturgeon Bay, WI.  He has ten grandchildren that he so enjoyed being with.  Peter (Wendy) Hahn; Kristine Hahn (Rob) Beuthling;  Rebecca Bathke-Manke, Ryan Manke, Marc Manke, and Rachael (Matt) Duster; Kristi Johnson (Dan) Hanson; Angela (Joshua) Kinsman; Kirstin Goetz and Brian (Amers) Goetz.  There are nine great grandchildren that are listed as follows:  Sydney and Joel Hahn; Elsa and Hugo Beuthling; Henry and Aimee Duster; Rubianne and Graham Kinsman; and Harper and Baby Goetz.  There are three step great-grandsons; Bryan, Kevin (Kendra), and Brad Hanson.  Also, he has a sister-in-law, Elizabeth Gates, from Cambridge, Wisconsin.  He has several cousins, other relatives, and friends.

Preceding Bill in death are his parents, his wife, Gretchen, on January 1, 1996; sister-in-law, Dorothy Heider; and his brother, Earl (Louise) Manke.  Instead of flowers, memorials are preferred in honor of Bill.

A special thank you goes to the Onalaska Care Center for making this Bill’s home for over nine years.  There was a comfort level as staff carefully and kindly cared for him.

Funeral services to celebrate his life will be held at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1201 Main Street, Onalaska with Pastor Bauman officiating.  His grandchildren will be his pall bearers.  Burial will be in the Christ Lutheran Cemetery, West Salem.  There will be a visitation on Sunday, October 20, 2013, from 1:00 p.m. until the service at 3:00 p.m. at the church.

E-mail condolences can be sent to  After the service, a lunch will be served and stories of Bill can be shared.

Goodbye, Grandpa Bill!  We love you!

Your final hand in “500” is 10 No Trump!



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