William J. Butzen Jr.

October 3, 1925 ~ November 1, 2021 (age 96)


William Joseph Butzen, 96, of Ottawa, passed away Monday, Nov. 1. Visitation will be on Saturday, Nov. 6, at St. Francis Church from 10 to 11 a.m., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Francis Church in Ottawa. 

William "Bill" was born on Oct. 3, 1925, to William and Cecilia Butzen in Edinburg, Texas. He grew up there until the family moved to Poplar Bluff, Missouri when he was 12 years old. He was a farmer there, raising dairy cattle, corn, beans, and cotton. He was in the army during World War II (June 1944-April 1946), assigned to the 85th Mechanized Calvary 5th Armored Division as a reconnaissance jeep driver, often driving behind enemy lines. He served as German interpreter in both Germany and Holland, and fought with his unit in the strategic Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. He served in Holland, France, and Germany during the war. While in Germany, he received shrapnel wounds to his right leg above the knee. 

He married Margaret Weidenbenner on Feb. 20, 1950. They had four daughters. Bill moved his family from Poplar Bluff, Missouri to Ottawa, Illinois in 1965 upon taking a job at the Ottawa Sanitation Plant. Several years later, he became the superintendent at the plant. During his years there, he received various awards from the Illinois Association of Water Pollution Control Operators in recognition of exceptional and efficient operation of a wastewater treatment plant: 1990 Plant Operator of the Year, 1991 Plant of the Year, 1994 Plant Operator of the Year.

Bill served as President of the St. Columba PTA and taught religious education at both St. Columba and St. Francis parishes.

In 2014, William had the honor of being a Parade Marshal in the Memorial Day Parade and received a certificate of appreciation for service to his country from the Ottawa Memorial Association.

Bill loved to keep busy with gardening, woodworking, making furniture, wooden crucifixes, building several of his homes, writing poetry, and restoring/remodeling a 1929 Model A car with his wife.

Bill cherished his Catholic Faith that he received from his parents, and was so happy he could pass this faith down to his daughters and grandchildren. When he was in World War II, he always wore his brown scapular and kept his First Communion Rosary in his pocket or in his hands. He would drive his jeep with one hand while praying the rosary with his other hand. He prayed that if he survived, he would be able to return home with his whole body intact; otherwise, he did not want to come home at all. God listened to his prayers! In later years, he was an altar server for many funerals at St. Francis Church, and loved to attend daily Mass.

Bill is survived by his wife Margaret and his four daughters, Joanne (Jim) Sheridan, Rita (David) Murdock, Phyllis Butzen, and Rosemary (Kevin) Beever, six grandchildren, Tony (Andrea), Robert (Jennifer), and Michael Murdock, Joseph Butzen, and Michael and Therese Beever, four great-grandchildren, Ryan, Corinne, Waylon, Alva, and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his five siblings, Louise, Bernard, Frances, Frank, and Therese, and some nieces and nephews.

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