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William “Bill” Clancy

William “Bill” Michael Clancy, beloved husband, father, grandpa, and friend, passed away on October 23, 2023, at the age of 87, surrounded by his family. Born on August 25, 1936 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Bill was the youngest son of William J. and Mary Ann “Mamie” (Brogan) Clancy. He grew up in Greenleaf with his siblings: John, Mary, H.J. (Hugh) and Pat (Patrick). The century-old, white farmhouse and hand hewn timber barns of the Clancy dairy farm remained Bill’s home for his entire life.  Bill’s early education was a far cry from the schools of today.  The simple, brick Askeaton School housed two classrooms, ruled at the helm by benevolent nuns. Dressed in his striped bib-overalls, Bill would be hard to distinguish from other farm kids at the rural school–if it weren’t for his trademark, white-blonde hair and mischievous smile. You could easily spot young Bill carrying his homemade, white bread and lard sandwiches in his metal lunch pail as he jumped from the school bus to start his day.  Luckily, Bill’s early education involved more than just books and lard sandwiches–there were plenty of opportunities for shenanigans to be had if you knew where to look! And Bill did: the smaller, brick building across the road from the school was an unusual target. The soft, pale brick building housed younger students, but also provided ample opportunity for crafty young Bill and his classmates to practice their carving skills on the unblemished bricks. Nearly a century of names and initials can still  be seen on the brick–but only if you know where to look. The young culprits needed to be stealthy with their carving as the nuns were ever vigilant in watching them!   Using all the skills he learned at Askeaton, young Bill continued his education at Wrightstown High School. An outgoing and social student, Bill was nominated by his classmates to be prom king. Normally, this gesture would  be seen as a great honor. Bill had a different explanation for that day; the story differs: 1) he had been sick at home or 2) he was at home doing field work. Either way, he missed school the day the prom vote happened. The end result for his absence: an overwhelming vote that ended with Bill being crowned as prom king. Bill learned his lesson, with an improved attendance record, the reluctant royal graduated in 1954. These same classmates remained life-long friends, regularly gathering together over the past 70 years to celebrate their friendship. After graduating from high school, Bill continued farming with his father.  The two men worked side by side until his father’s unexpected death in 1958.  Bill’s life wasn’t limited to only farming, somehow between baling hay and milking cows, he found the time to pursue his love of music. It wasn’t long before his powerful tenor voice  became a presence in the Dudley Birder/St. Norbert musicals. The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof and South Pacific songs filled the barn as Bill would practice while doing his daily chores. The musicals also brought him together with other talented musicians and singers–many of whom became his friends in the music community.  It didn’t take long for the “Irish Tenor” to become popular not only due to his impressive voice, but also for his quick wit and keen sense of humor.  In 1963, Bill met Shirley Steinfeldt and found that there was more to life than just music and farming. With the help of one of his best friends–and future brother-in-law, Donald Norton– Bill was introduced to the beautiful nurse. After a whirlwind romance, she became the love of his life. Bill and Shirley were married on June 13, 1964.  Together, they raised ten children on their family farm. Bill understood that farming didn’t allow for much free time, however, he still made time for what mattered most to him: being a committed father, parish leader and active member of the community.  Being a father to so many children could have been complete chaos, however, Bill enjoyed the challenge–and the noise! Family dinner was a prime example of how Bill could easily handle a crowd, effortlessly resolve conflicts and at the same time connect with his family.  Eating dinner together as a family was a daily expectation for the Clancys, but by no means was it a smooth operation! First, all 10 children had assigned seats to maintain some sense of order; trouble makers and small children were seated closest to Bill and Shirley for both their safety and everyone else’s! Second, there were two dining tables pushed together to accommodate the large brood and allow for much-sought-after elbow room. Bill’s attempt at order was to be admired, but meals didn’t always go as planned. Sibling squabbles, laughing during prayers and kicking under the table provided necessary entertainment at almost every meal.   Something Bill could not plan for was the daily “milk spill” –no meal was complete without it! Family members will fondly recall the near daily dumping of the poorly placed milk pitcher, resulting in a tidal wave of milk cascading over unsuspecting siblings, leaving them drenched. The guilty party was then marched out to the milkhouse to restock the milk supply.   Phone calls were strictly prohibited during family meals!  Bill had two proven methods to handle this. First, the Clancy family’s rotary phone was simply not answered–no matter how much it rang. Second, there was also no “call screening” so when Bill needed a break, he would simply take the phone off its hook. With no distractions, lively discussions and debates on every topic could be heard around the dinner table. Siblings freely shared their opinions and Bill moderated the topics as needed.  Bill gave back to the community as a 4-H leader. He taught tractor safety to new operators and was a dairy advisor for several decades.  Countless young farmers benefited from his immense knowledge and magnetic personality. It was nearly impossible for anyone not to feel a connection when they spent time with Bill.  St. Patrick’s Church was Bill’s second family.  He started his service to the church early on as a young altar boy, and then continued his work as a mass reader, parish council president and religious education teacher. Bill was always willing to support his beloved St. Pat’s–even at the expense of sleep! After a 3 a.m. wake up call, Bill could be found cutting cabbage and stirring booyah with his close friends at the crack of dawn before Askeaton’s annual church picnic.  In addition to his culinary skills, perhaps Bill is best known at St. Pat’s for his vocal talents as a member of the church choir. His strong tenor voice echoed throughout the cavernous church on countless holidays. Bill was often requested to use his beautiful tones by family and friends to celebrate the joy at weddings as well as comfort those at funerals.   While farming was Bill’s chosen career, serving others was his true calling.  He was a dedicated public servant, first elected to office in 1967. Bill served an incredible 56 consecutive years as Clerk for the Town of Holland before retiring earlier this year. During his time in office, Clerk Clancy oversaw 14 Presidential elections—a history spanning from Richard Nixon to Joe Biden– as well as hundreds of state and local contests. In addition to elections and absentee ballots, Bill was always on-call for Hollandtown residents; missing parcel numbers, wayward horses, stray dogs, burned out street lights and questions about property lines were a daily occurrence. There was no such thing as a dull day in the Town of Holland!   Continuing his legacy of service, Bill added another role to his life when he became a Brown County Supervisor in 1988. When the position opened, Bill felt a calling to represent the residents of southern Brown County. After 30 years of dedicated service, Bill was honored with his own county-wide “Bill Clancy Day.”  While delighted, Bill felt the greater honor was his legacy in the relationships he had built and the community improvements he had played a role in achieving.  Preserving parks, funding libraries, supporting the Aging and Disability Resource Center, creating the 911 Dispatch Center and raising awareness for mental health needs were just a few examples of how he made Brown County a better place to live, work, and play for everyone.  Retirement from farming offered Bill even more opportunities to spend time in the community that he loved. He continued singing at local elder care facilities and sharing his love of Irish music. Bill and his accompanists would often visit multiple events each day during the month of March–he made time for any singing request that he could pack into his already hectic schedule.  For years, Bill and Shirley had made Sunday night sheepshead parties a tradition in the neighborhood. Leaving their children in charge of the farm, they would happily escape to exotic destinations, such as Kellnersville and Krakow, to play cards and catch up with friends. The card games were never ruthless and were often filled with laughter. By the end of the night, the greatest loss was often less than fifty cents–it was an evening that was well worth the expense. In 2007, a nervous Bill auditioned for the first time with MacDowell Male Chorus. His performance earned him the prestigious position of “First Tenor” (but he would never mention it) and was the start of his 16 years with the Appleton-based chorus.  From the annual concert series to the “afterglow” and annual Spring Social get-togethers, Bill loved the fellowship and the chance to spend time with others who loved music as much as he did.  For most people, Christmas or their birthday is the biggest day of the year–not Bill Clancy. Bill was 100% Irish and could always be seen wearing his favorite color: Green.  For Bill, the highlight of the year was St. Patrick’s Day–more specifically, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at VanAbel’s in Hollandtown. The event started as a way to gather with friends and family to celebrate their shared Irish heritage during the last stretch of winter. Eventually, the party grew to include anyone who wanted to have a good time and was willing to wear green. Patrons knew they would be guaranteed to hear Bill perform “Danny Boy” at least once, along with other Irish classics. Bill was also a charter member of the Greenleaf/Wrightstown Optimists.  He enjoyed the camaraderie of the group and participated in many of the club’s fundraising and community events.  Bill was truly an optimist in all areas of his life- from offering kind words to anonymous donations. His mission was to ensure others had what they needed; whether it was school supplies, food, or winter clothing.  Bill took care of those in his life and the students and staff of Syble Hopp School in DePere held a special place in his heart. Bill initially served as a representative from the Brown County Board and later as a board member for the Brown County Children with Disabilities Education Board.  Fiercely loyal and dedicated to Hopp, he remarkably attended his last meeting just days before he passed away.  To say that Bill loved the Syble Hopp School and staff would be an understatement. That feeling was often mirrored by students who happily greeted him not as “Mr. Clancy” or “Supervisor”–rather, as “their friend, Bill.” Whether it was assisting the school to fund new resources, attending “Spaghetti Night” or leading the classes in “The Unicorn Song” to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day–Bill always showed up for his Hopp family. He was a proud Hopp Kangaroo and their biggest advocate. The name William means “resolute protector,” and Bill Clancy was everyone’s protector. Bill cared deeply for those he loved and made everyone feel as though they were part of his family.  Bill had a natural eloquence and the ability to listen to others so that they felt heard.  He measured his success in life not by his monetary wealth, but from the friendships he created and the lives that he helped. Bill did not seek praise, rather, he easily gave it to others. He showed grace in the most difficult of circumstances and always put others before himself.  Bill Clancy leaves behind a better world, but his death leaves all of us with a greater sense of what we have lost.  He is survived by his children: Carry Clancy, Terry Clancy (Craig Hutjens),  Tom Clancy, Bridget Clancy (Mark Cleven), Maggy (Brad) Albers, Katie Clancy (Larry LaMalfa), Jenny (Bruce) Meulemans, Patty Clancy-Gurgel (Bryan), Heather Clancy, and Rob Clancy. He was blessed with seven grandchildren: Liam and Gwen Albers; Gabriel, Madelyn, and Meghan Meulemans; Jack and Gracie Gurgel. Bill was preceded in death by his wife of 43 years, Shirley Clancy; his brothers: Pat, John and H.J., sister Mary, parents Mary and William, and infant son, Will. Bill was also preceded in death by many other relatives of the Clancy and Steinfeldt families. Family and friends may visit at Ryan Funeral Home, 305 N. Tenth Street, De Pere from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 29, 2023. Visitation will continue the following day at 9:00 a.m. at St. Clare Parish – St. Patrick Askeaton Site, 7815 St. Pats Church Road, Greenleaf. A Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 11:00 a.m. with Fr. Brian Wideman officiating. Private burial will follow at St. Patrick’s Cemetery. The Clancy Family wishes to extend special thanks to the Emergency Room Department, the Intensive Care Department and the many nurses, doctors and support staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital for the care of our father in his time of need. Hospital Chaplain Steve Fewell, we believe, was sent by our father to help our family transition after our dad passed.  We would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to help us care for our Dad and keep him where he belonged: at home on his beloved family farm. Special thanks to Drs. Gala, Thurlow and Walsh for their assistance with our father’s healthcare journey.  Also, a heartfelt thank you to RN Joy and staff at Fresenius–Bill couldn’t have made it this far without all of you. We were gifted with an extra year with our dad due to your care.   In addition, thank you to Bellin Physical Therapy Clinic “Doctor Dan” Verhagen, “Doctor Andy” Rosik and their staff in Wrightstown. Dad looked forward to his “PT” sessions each week! The doctors and staff went out of their way to connect with our dad and became an extension of our family. Their positive attitudes and genuine concern for our dad exceeded simple patient care, they were wonderful.  Finally, our family wishes to extend our deepest thanks to longtime friend and nurse, Mary Lawrence. She cared for our mother and was instrumental in helping us take care of our dad. Without her we would be lost.

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