William Craig Kees (Bill) was born on August 1, 1942, in Spencer, Iowa to Everett John and Florence Elaine (Greene) Kees. He grew up in Laurens and Spencer, IA and graduated from Laurens High School in 1960. After the passing of his mother when Bill was a young boy, his father married Virginia Peterson who was a loving second mother to him. Bill graduated from Iowa State University where he met Kathy Wright. They were married in 1965. They had two children, Lia and Monica. Bill worked for General Mills in Minneapolis right after graduation. As legend has it, his first job was punching the holes in the Cheerios. Bill and Kathy moved to Pocahontas, IA in 1967 where he worked as a computer programmer for Iowa Industrial Hydraulics until the family moved to Norwalk, IA in 1975. He continued his career in computers working for Wheeler Lumber. Bill and Kathy amicably divorced in 1979 and remained friends until her death last year. Bill married Mary L. (Beth) Hann in 1981. They had a son, Kristopher. Due to company mergers, Bill, Beth, and Kristopher moved to Plano, TX and then later to Cincinnati, OH. Bill and Beth amicably divorced in 1997. Bill took early retirement from Champion International and then went to work for Cincinnati Financial until his retirement in 2007. Upon his retirement, Bill relocated back to Norwalk, IA.
Bill lived a life of service. He was always actively engaged with his church family through various projects and missions. Throughout his lifetime he also served others through many organizations including: Boy Scouts of America, Jaycees, Masons, Order of the Eastern Star, YMCA Indian Princesses and Indian Guides, Living History Farms, Fairfield Fire Department, Fairfield Band Boosters, One Way Farm, American Red Cross, Meals from the Heartland, and Crow Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota. In recognition of his life of service, Bill was honored as an American Red Cross Hero of the Heartland in 2012.
When Bill wasn’t volunteering, he loved to work in his yard, cook, bake bread, attend his grandkids’ activities, chauffeur his grandkids around, partake in family dinners, and make wind chimes. One of Bill’s greatest joys was the annual family vacation to Okoboji.
Bill was a beloved father to Lia (Kevin) Potratz, Monica (Rob) Friedman, and Kristopher (Catherine) Kees. He was a fun-loving grandfather to Lauren (Chad) Bockholt, Jake Friedman, Jake Potratz, Claire Bennett, Kylie Potratz, Kate Friedman, Nico and Elaine Kees. Known as Gips to his grandchildren, he loved nothing more than spending time with them. He was known for his dry sense of humor, his corn casserole, his listening ear, great advice, and even though he was a notorious cheapskate, he had a well-earned reputation as the most generous man. He was a truly special man with a quick smile who genuinely enjoyed people. When Bill was your friend, he was your friend for life.
On March 4, 2022, Bill passed away peacefully at home in his favorite recliner after making a loaf of his famous sourdough bread. He was loved beyond measure.
In addition to his children and grandchildren, Bill is survived by his siblings; Suzi (Pete) Sullivan, Sheri (Jeff) Wrenn, Steve (June) Kees, and several nieces and nephews.
A visitation will be held on Saturday March 12, 2022, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at O’Leary Funeral Home in Norwalk. A service to celebrate Bill’s life will be held on Sunday March 13, 2022, at 12:00 pm. at Norwalk Christian Church. Since Bill loved soup, there will be a soup lunch for family and friends immediately after the service.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Red Cross or Norwalk Area Food Pantry.