Rev. Robert E. Williams
Rev. Robert “Bipsy” Edward Williams, 88, passed peacefully into eternity with God on March 16, 2014, with family by his side at his home, Saint John’s on the Lake, Milwaukee, WI.
Robert was born to the late John and Lydia (Andersen) Williams on May 15, 1925, in Wakefield, MI. He graduated with the class of 1943. Shortly thereafter, he was proud to serve in the US Army in the Asiatic Pacific theater of World War II.
Robert often joked that he had two careers following the war: “one down and one up.” The first was his time spent working as an iron ore miner at Sunday Lake Mine in Wakefield. He relished his memories of the hard work and the camaraderie he shared with his fellow miners. The second career was his calling to serve God through ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In 1963 Robert entered the Lutheran School of Theology at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. He completed seminary and was ordained at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wakefield in 1968. Over the next 23 years, he served congregations at Bethany Lutheran in Norway, MI, Christ Lutheran in Lancaster, WI, and St. Paul Lutheran in Burton, WI. After retirement in 1991, Pastor Bob continued to minister as needed by the congregations he and his wife, Mary, attended during their travels to Mary’s hometown near Carthage, IL, winter trips to New Mexico, and back eventually to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Pastor Bob loved his Finnish heritage, and he was proud to be an American. He was forever fond of the place where these two identities came together, his hometown of Wakefield. Even to his last days when his memory had otherwise diminished, he spoke fondly of Wakefield and especially its superb annual fireworks for the July 4th holiday. Pastor Bob was an avid storyteller, whether it was through sermons from the pulpit or casual conversation over coffee. He is remembered for his loyal service to God, the spiritual guidance and care he provided to countless church and community members, and a creative wit that put a twinkle in his eyes and smiles on the faces of those around him.
Robert is survived by his beloved wife of 50 years, Mary Ann (Wichman), children Robert (Char) Williams, Roger (Mary) Williams, James (Carlos) Williams, Paul Williams, and Carol (Chris) Omernik; sister Betty (Carlton) Cook; brother Richard (Sonia) Williams; seven grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his loving first wife Mavis (Tuomisto), and brothers John (Dawn) Williams, Kenneth (Ruth) Williams, and George (Jane) Williams.
The family expresses deep gratitude to the staff of Saint John’s on the Lake and Vitas Hospice for their compassionate care of Robert. A Funeral Service will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m., March 29, 2014, with visitation preceding at 10:00 a.m., at Saint John’s on the Lake (1840 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202). Immediately following the service, all are invited to enjoy fellowship with the family in the Saint John’s parlor. Robert’s homecoming to Wakefield and burial will take place in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donate to the “Bipsy’s Buddies” team in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at http://bit.ly/PXXKZI. Suminski Funeral Home of Milwaukee is assisting the family. Expressions of sympathy may be offered at www.suminskifuneralhome.com.