PEORIA, Ariz. — William “Bill” Velin, who accomplished much in a long and colorful life, but always insisted his greatest accomplishments were serving his country and raising six children, died on April 24, 2013, in Peoria. He was 88.
William was a World War II Veteran, businessman, civic leader, Little League coach, referee, public address announcer, miner, caterer, avid golfer, lifelong sports fan and most of all, a loving husband and father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
William Knight Velin was born on Jan. 1, 1925, in Bessemer, Mich., the eldest son of Conrad and Josephine Velin. He attended Bessemer schools and graduated from A.D. Johnston High School in 1943. Bill was a four-sport athlete for the Speedboys, excelling in football, where he was a speedy two-time first-team all-U.P. and all-state honorable mention halfback.
Soon after Bill graduated in 1943, he enlisted in the Navy, where he became a Navy Corpsman (Medic) assigned to the 3rd Marine Division. He saw action in the Pacific with the Marines on Bougainville and Guam. Though he participated in some heavy action, he seldom talked about it.
After being discharged from the Navy in 1946, Bill returned to the Gogebic Range and was married to Ann Obradovich in Wakefield, Mich. They moved to Ann Arbor, where Bill attended the University of Michigan. He studied geology, which would serve him well later in his life.
When they returned to the Upper Peninsula, after learning the meat-cutting trade from his father, owner and proprietor of Kelto-Velin Supermarket in Bessemer, he opened his own grocery, Bill’s Food Shop, in Ramsay, Mich. The store thrived for about a decade before he sold it. Bill then went to work for the White Pine Copper Co., where he was a geologist. He retired from the mine in 1984 after nearly 20 years.
Bill and Ann operated A&B Catering for many years while living in Wakefield and spending their winters in North Fort Myers, Fla., where Bill pursued his passion for golf.
He was also a member of Eagle Bluff Golf Club in Hurley, Wis. During one round at the Lake Fairways course on which he lived in Florida, Bill scored two holes-in-one in a single round. He also had an ace at Eagle Bluff. After moving to Florida full-time, he played golf daily into his 80s.
Bill also took his civic responsibilities seriously, serving as a Wakefield city councilman and mayor from 1986 to 1988. He also served as a member and president of the Wakefield School Board and was on the board of directors of Grand View Hospital.
Ann and Bill Velin were married for 57 years before Ann’s death in 2003.
He is survived by a brother, Julius, 87, of Marquette, Mich.; six children, William K. Velin Jr. (Elizabeth), of Rosemount, Minn., Robert Velin (Patricia), of Herndon, Va., Paula Tanner (Thomas), of Peoria, Randall Velin (Linda), of Pueblo, Colo., Conrad Velin (Emily), of Corvallis, Mont., and Judy Becerra (Miguel), of Oklahoma City, Okla.; 13 grandchildren, William K. III and Bradley Velin and Kristin Savell, all of Minnesota, Matthew and Michael Velin, of Virginia, Jamie, Jackie and Brett Haendel, of Arizona, Thomas Velin, of Minnesota, Katie and Kelly Velin, of Montana, and Ashley and Kim Hauser, of Oklahoma; and eight great-grandsons.
A memorial service will be held at All Saints Lutheran Church in Wakefield on Friday, May 31, at noon.
Lakeside Memorial Chapel in Wakefield is assisting the family with local arrangements.