William (Bill) Lee Bergschnieder, 77, of Ashland, passed away peacefully with his family at his side on Saturday, May 9, at Aspen Acres Assisted Living Facility in Hayward, due to complications from dementia and pneumonia.
He was born April 22, 1943, in Ashland, to Leonard and Madeline (Durvel) Bergschnieder. He lived in Virginia, Minnesota, for the early years of his life, then in high school he moved to Ashland to live with godsends Aunt Lil and Uncle ArtBeauto. He graduated from Ashland High School in 1961 and enlisted in the Air Force shortly thereafter. He proudly served in Okinawa during the Vietnam War. In 1967 he married Mary Helen Dunlap. They raised one daughter, Jodie, and two sons, Bryan and Dan. “Mr. B” graduated from Northland College in Ashland with a degree in Education in 1973. Shortly after, he and the family moved to Bayfield, where he taught 5th-8th grade for almost 30 years until his retirement in 2000. He continued to substitute teach for quite a few years afterwards. One of his biggest accomplishments (and one he was likely most proud of) was starting the wrestling program in Bayfield in the late 1970s from scratch. He literally recruited “tough looking” kids from the hallway and gymnasium to join the startup program. He was a strict, yet fair and beloved teacher. He was well known for having his “gotcha light” in 5th grade. If kids were talking, he turned on a light he rigged up above his desk and quietly counted to 15. If the room wasn’t quiet at 15, he would say “gotcha” and the students lost recess for the day. To this day we get reminded of that light whenever we talk with his former students. After retirement he mowed lawns for his 15-20 “little old ladies” at about $5 per lawn, no matter what the cost of gas was. He loved golf (though was never good at it), softball, fishing, hunting and playing hockey. He played in the men’s potbelly hockey league well into his 60s. He and his boys played softball for the Knights of Columbus and went to Canada on yearly fishing trips — he was the only dad out of eight guys every year — he just fit in and everyone enjoyed his company. One year in Canada his son Dan tried to decapitate him with a beer can. It was quite funny. The next year dad brought a football helmet to wear.
He is survived by his children, Jodie (Pat) Weiss, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, Bryan (Janice) Bergschnieder, of Scandia, Minnesota, and Dan (Stacey) of Hayward; grandchildren, Claire, Sophie and John Howard of Waukesha, Julie (Brandon) Olson of Houston, Minnesota, Halle and Reid Bergschnieder of Scandia, Minnesota, and Madi, Lydia and Joey Bergschnieder of Hayward; great-granddaughter Maci of Houston, great-grandson Liam of Houston; an numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Helen; his parents; his Aunt Lil and Uncle ArtBeauto; and his sister Darlene.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, no funeral services will be held at this time. We will announce a future celebration of life as soon as we can.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to USSA – www.childswish.org. This charity sends terminally ill and disabled children on dream fishing and hunting excursions, which is right up Dad’s alley. He was involved in several USSA fishing trips during the past decade and always had a soft spot in his heart for less fortunate kids. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Mountain Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Ashland and Mellen.