William “Bill” Johanningmeier

William “Bill” Johanningmeier of Monona passed away peacefully December 21, 2021 at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, WI.  He left us too young, but his nearly 70 years was a life well-lived - full of family, friends, triumphs, struggles, fun and love.  A self-described “stubborn German,” Bill was a farmer at heart with the soul of a cowboy, whose memory left his family and friends wanting more.

Bill was born January 29, 1952, the sixth of seven children of Willis and Gertrude (Hertrampf) Johanningmeier and raised on their Volney farm.  Gertrude passed away tragically in 1956, but Willis found love again with Mildred Schlitter. They were united in marriage in 1959, simultaneously growing Bill’s already large family with the addition of Mildred’s three children. Bill’s blended family of ten siblings became a foundation that remained strong for the rest of his life.  Growing up in a big farming family defined Bill, whether he was farming or working elsewhere, he referred to himself as a farmer (later in life, an “old farmer”). Bill was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul Lutheran Church and went to school at MFL where he excelled at wrestling through his junior year before taking a spontaneous break for a Louisiana gulf coast adventure, returning to graduate in 1971.

Bill met Sally Lipke in the Prairie du Chien bowling alley and a half-century rollercoaster ride began. The high school sweethearts married November 4, 1971. They farmed and raised their children, Josh and Kymm, on the Yellow River outside Harpers Ferry. Bill farmed together with Willis in the early years and later on his own, building a farrow-to-finish hog confinement operation and putting every acre of useful ground to work growing corn. For a few years, Bill mixed farming with work at Bituma-Stor. Eventually he and Sally left the Yellow River farm and moved to rural Monona. Bill finished his career at 3M, where he made many good friends.  Bill and Sally divorced in 2018 and he remained devoted to assisting with her care until her death in April 2020.

The Yellow River farm was teaming with wild game and fueled Bill’s lifelong love of hunting, a natural hobby for an instinctive marksman who enjoyed learning, teaching and shooting with others.  Whether it was an impromptu shooting lesson in the backyard with family, wingshooting grouse, pheasants or ducks, or whitetail hunting with handgun, muzzleloader, shotgun or rifle, Bill was game. And when it came to shooting games, Bill found his passion in 2000, when he and Josh began many years of competing in Cowboy Action Shooting. Bill shot cowboy matches around the Midwest, including winning the 2010 Iowa State Championship. Bill’s favorite big game hunting adventure came in October 2020, when he joined Josh and grandson Lane for a three-generation antelope hunt in Wyoming where, of course, Bill shot the first buck.

Bill was unwaveringly supportive and never hid his pride in his children and grandchildren. He loved hosting and joining family gatherings, especially when his kids and grandchildren could all get together. From campfires and s’mores in the backyard to fireworks and pontoon boat rides on the Mississippi River, family experiences always reigned high.  Bill reveled in every opportunity to attend any event his grandchildren enjoyed, from sports to the arts.  When distance posed a challenge for him to join in person, his love and encouragement were constantly felt.

Bill was always ready for an adventure, and that only intensified in the last few years of his short life on earth. He welcomed every occasion to gather with all of his siblings, particularly in “Johanningmeier-Ville” on the Yellow River near the farm where they grew up. Bill was blessed to find love again with Cindy Henning, and they enjoyed every moment they had together for over a year. Dining out, UTV rides, and trips to visit Bill’s children and their families in Wisconsin and Michigan were highlights in their short time together. He enjoyed the constant companionship of his dog Gunner while at home as well as on his adventures. Bill also discovered a renewed sense of faith and joined the Bible Baptist Church in Prairie du Chien, WI.

Bill is survived by his son Josh (Jeanie Eicher) Johanningmeier, of Middleton, WI; daughter Kymm (Rob) Clark, of Kalamazoo, MI; grandchildren Reese, Lane and Tayte Johanningmeier of Middleton, WI, and Vanessa and Daniel Clark of Kalamazoo, MI; four brothers Duane Johanningmeier of Monona, Dean (Barb) Johanningmeier of Cross Plains, WI, Dennis (Candy) Schlitter of Prairie du Chien, WI and Bob Johanningmeier of Monona; five sisters, Sharon Bruening (special friend, Darrell Rogness) of Monona, JoAnn (John) Eadie of Swisher, Elaine (Kerry) Melcher of Monona, Judy (Dale) Goeke of Waverly and Susan (Brian) Murphy of Waukon; 27 nieces and nephews; and his special friend, Cindy Henning, of Monona.

Bill was preceded in death by his former spouse Sally; his mother Gertrude; stepmother Mildred; father Willis; and nephew Trent Eadie.

Bill’s life will be celebrated with a visitation Monday, January 3, 2022 from 4-7 pm at Leonard-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Monona and one before services at the church Tuesday.

Funeral Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, January 4, 2022 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Monona with Rev. Erika Lenth and Pastor Andy Doll as the Officiants.

Burial will follow at Monona Cemetery, Monona.

Leonard-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Monona is helping the family with the arrangements.