Willard “Bill” Herman Henry Steffan, age 97 of Waseca, passed away September 4, 2022 at Pathstone Living in Mankato, Minnesota.
Born on October 19, 1924 in Theresa, Wisconsin, Bill was the youngest child of Heinrich Friedrich Johannes Steffan and Martha Theresa Caroline (Huettner) Steffan. Growing up in a traditional German speaking home, Bill wasn’t introduced to English until he started country school. He shared many stories about the hardships of growing up on the farm and working on his dad’s milk route.
Bill was confirmed at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mayville, Wisconsin.
While attending Mayville High School he met his future wife, Dorothy “Dot” Thiel. At 142 pounds Bill played guard on the defense and tackle on the offense for Mayville’s football team. After graduating in 1944, Bill attended Milwaukee State University during the summer, then enlisted in the Army late summer. He served in the Army until February 1945 when he was discharged to work on the family farm due to his father’s illness.
In 1946 Bill enrolled in the State Teacher’s College in Platteville, Wisconsin. He thought he might have a chance to play football if he went to a smaller college until he saw the size of the other players. Dot joined him at the college and they were married on June 7, 1947 at Dot’s family home. Bill graduated in 1949 with a major in Agriculture Education.
Bill’s first job after graduation was with Case Implements in Moline, Illinois.
They moved to Algona, Iowa in 1952 where Bill was hired to be the assisted plant manager for Pioneer Hy-Bred Seed Corn. While living in Algona Bill was active in Lions Club, a member of First Lutheran Church, on the Church Council, Algona City Council and a flying club. Bill owned half interest in an airplane.
1964 found them on the move again to Waseca, Minnesota. Bill started the new agronomy department for Pioneer. Although he spent hours on the road covering several states, Bill was active in the community. He was on the Agricultural Industries to Services Committee for the University of Minnesota Technical College in Waseca, on the Waseca School Board, Rotary Club member and the founder of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) in Waseca. Eventually he was on the state board of FCA. Bill was a long-time member of Grace Lutheran Church and on the Church Council.
In 1980 Bill and Dot started Viking Woodcrafts, Inc., a distributor of arts and crafts supplies. They started with a 12-page catalog. In 1986 Bill left Pioneer to concentrate on Viking Woodcrafts. In 1988 Viking Folk Art Publications was formed to publish decorative painting books that were sold worldwide.
In 1990 the Waseca Chamber of Commerce honored Viking Woodcrafts as Business of the Year.
Because of the growth of both companies, Viking Woodcrafts was sold in 1992. At that time Viking had grown to 40 employees and a 400-page catalog.
In 2000 Bill was awarded the Priscilla Hauser Award for Business and Industry by the Decorative Painting Industry for his ethics in business.
Dot passed away in 1995. A few years later a decorative painter named Megumi Takada introduced Bill to her beautiful painting and Viking Folk Art Publications published a book for her. Soon the dating started. Bill and Megumi were married in Waseca on September 2, 2000.
Bill loved spending time with his family, camping, sports and politics. He had a passion for traveling and was always planning his next big adventure. He traveled to all 50 states, to Japan at least 19 times, most Canadian providences and 27 other countries from Argentina and Scotland to Okinawa and China.
Bill is survived by his wife, Megumi; children, Janet (Larry) Draheim, Mark (Becky) Steffan, Nancy (Brian) Corn and Chihiro Takada; 8 grandchildren: Scott (Dani) Draheim, Ellen (George) Aqua, Cami (Kevin) McCallum, John (Jaci) Steffan, Michael (Elizabeth) Steffan, Abigail (Brad) Gingles, Alyssa Takada and Reina Takada; and 14 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife Dorothy; sister, Alice (Anthony) Stommel; brother, Sylvester (Evelyn) Steffan; and great-granddaughter, Kenna Steffan.
Visitation will be from 4:00 – 6:00 PM on Friday, September 23, 2022 at the Third Street Chapel of Dennis-Steffel-Omtvedt Funeral Homes in Waseca. Visitation will continue for one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday.
Funeral Service will be at 10:30 AM on Saturday, September 24, 2022 at Grace Lutheran Church in Waseca with Rev. Jillene Gallatin officiating. Interment will follow at Woodville Cemetery in Waseca.
Saturday, September 24, 2022
9:30 - 10:30am (Central time)
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Starts at 10:30am (Central time)