Rosie & Steve Engelhart
While surrounded by loved ones, the Lord extended His hand to William John Zirbel on August 7, 2020, when he was peacefully led to his eternal home. Willie was born on September 20, 1932, to Wilmer and Lucinda (Schaumberg) Zirbel in the Town of Theresa. Born on the family farm homestead, he maintained a lifetime love of the land. He enjoyed his 40-acre hobby farm where he raised crops and beef and, later took up the hobby of restoring vintage tractors. It was a great delight when he made his parade debut at the 2017 Audubon Days Parade, driving his 460 Farmall tractor. Dancing is what led Willie to the love of his life, Geri, in 1953 when they met at Zivko’s Ballroom in nearby Hartford. They were married on June 18, 1955, at Zion Lutheran Church in the Town of Theresa. Not only did dancing bring great joy throughout their 65 years of marriage, it also won them the “longest married couple on the dance floor.” A steadfast soldier of the Lord, Willie was passionate about his service to God. He was a longtime member of St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Browns Corners, welcoming guests as an usher and serving as an elder for 30 years. He was a gamer, but of the era when this meant board and card games and had nothing to do with a computer. Cribbage was a way to teach his kids math and playing sheepshead was another way to spend time with friends and family. Willie worked for 30 years at Purity Cheese and the Dodge County Park System for another 12 years. His most enjoyable job, however, was driving school bus for the Mayville School District. Adored by the kids, he still gets Christmas cards from some of the kids he transported.After retirement, Willie & Geri also enjoyed traveling and camping. He could build the prettiest campfires, using hollow logs a garden hose and copper pipe.Willie was devoted to his family. He is survived by his wife, Geraldine (Schneiter); six children, Dennis (Laura) Zirbel; Debra (Roy) Hale; Cindy Zirbel Wrucke; Brian (Nancy) Zirbel; Mark (Susan) Zirbel; and Jodi (Douglas) Marose; 13 grandkids (Justin, Kelly, Brandon, Ben, Sarah, Nick, Megan, Ian, Erica, Tyler, Sawyer, Stephanie and Cassie); and 14 great grandkids (Ainsley, Willa, Hayden, Myles, Myka, Addison, Noah, Owen, Wiley, Aubrey, Brody, Claire, Thatcher and Blakeleigh). He is further survived by one brother, Richard (Judith) Zirbel; sisters-in-law, Lillian Wondra and Georgia Schneiter; brothers-in-law, James and Kenneth Schneiter. He is preceded in death by his parents; his grandson; Nathaniel; his sisters and brothers-in-law Shirley (Dale) Derge and Marjorie (Arthur) Koepsell; brother David Zirbel; and infant brother Robert. There was a private family funeral service on Tuesday, August 11th at St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Browns Corners with the Rev. Jonathan Szczesny officiating. Burial will follow at St. John’s, Browns Corners Cemetery. Memorials can be directed to Generations Hospice and St. John’s Church Ev. Lutheran Church, Browns Corners.