NEGAUNEE TOWNSHIP, MI - William Walter Wertanen, 89, of Annex Road, Negaunee Township, was called home to be with his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, on March 20, 2013 following a short illness.
Bill was born August 5, 1923 in Negaunee to Walter and Tyne (Jylha) Wertanen and graduated from Negaunee High School, Class of 1941. His mother died when he was only 5 years old, so Bill and his father moved back to the old family farm where he lived with his grandparents and two aunts. Following graduation, he worked in the Athens Mine until enlisting in the United States Navy Construction Battalion (Seabees), serving most of his time on the Aleutian Chain in Alaska. Upon returning home, he resumed work at the Athens Mine, and finally retiring from the Empire Mine in 1985 with 43 years of service with CCI. Bill married Bea Lahti of Chatham on Jan. 29, 1949, and they made their first home in Beaver Grove, where they lived for 11 years until they bought their present home in Negaunee Township in 1960. In 1999 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary hosted by their children.
Mr. Wertanen was a charter member of Northshore Christian Church of Marquette. He made his Emmaus Walk in 1996 and was active in the Emmau community for many years, having served in various positions. Bill and his wife also hosted Bible Study in their home for 34 years, often attended by as many as 20-30 people. Bob Hodges is their capable leader.
In his younger years, Bill was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying fishing and hunting. While visiting Kodiak Island he caught a 232 pound halibut along with numerous king salmon and sockeye salmon. He also liked to fish for brook trout in local streams and deer hunt, being successful many times.
Bill was a very devoted grandpa to all his grandchildren. His granddaughters from Honolulu would always bring a Hershey bar for them to enjoy together when they would visit.
He was an avid beagler, having dogs since he was knee high to a grasshopper. He finished his first field champion, Dagwood's Labaan in 1952 and this dog sired many field and international champions. He sold dogs all over the U.S. and was always faithful in taking them for a run several times a week, until his age caught up with him.
Surviving are his loving wife of 64 years, Beatrice L. 'Bea' Wertanen; 2 sons: William Paul (Jeanne) Wertanen of Kodiak Island, AK and Peter (Karen) Wertanen of Negaunee; daughter, Jean (Jim) Shaner of Honolulu, HI; 9 grandchildren: Bill Wertanen, Jr., Matthew (Laura) Wertanen, Kristen Wertanen, Emily (Yukiko) Wertanen-Grine, Brent (Amanda) Wertanen, Ashlee and Alyson Shaner, Marlene (John) Koch and Linda (Chris) Thompson; 5 great- grandchildren: Paul, Carter, Hanako, Carsten and Lauren; brother-in-law, Wayne Salo of Chatham, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, a two year old brother, Kenneth, and sister, Marilyn 'Merlie'.
During Bill's illness we have been blessed with loving care from our church family, bible study and other friends. They have shown us God's love through their loving concern, deeds and actions. Thank you all.
Funeral services will be held at 12:00 Noon on Monday, March 25th at the First Baptist Church of Marquette, 728 W. Kaye St., with Rev. John Robenault officiating. Burial will be in Northland Chapel Gardens. The family will greet relatives and friends from 11:00 a.m. until the time of services at 12:00 noon on Monday, and also at a reception following the service. Honorary pallbearers will be Bill's grandsons: Bill Jr., Matt and Brent, and also Bob Hodges, Ed Plunkard and Bill Roby. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the Northshore Christian Church or the Christian Radio Station WHWL, 130 Carmen Dr. in Harvey in Bill's memory.
Condolences may be expressed online at koskeyfuneralhome.com.