Wilbur Everett “Wil” Selbrede

Wilbur Everett “Wil” Selbrede

MADISON–Wilbur Everett (Wil) Selbrede, Madison resident and avid writer, died Thursday, January 30, 2014 in the University Of Wisconsin Hospital.

The son of Carl and Goldie Selbrede, Wil was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin on May 15, 1925. Along with his siblings Curtis, Robert, Donald, James, and Carol, he lived in and around West Salem, Wisconsin for a majority of his childhood.

After graduating from West Salem High School in 1943, he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. Wil served in World War II on the transport ship Joseph P. Dickman, participating in the amphibious landing at Okinawa and helping return veterans of the Bataan Death March home after over 3 ½ years in captivity. Following World War II, he attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

During his distinguished business career, Wil specialized in inventory and production control for the John Oster Company and Charter Wire Company in Milwaukee, the Brunswick Pinsetter Company in Muskegon, Michigan, the Dryden Rubber Company in Chicago, Illinois, the Singer Company in Carteret, New Jersey, and the Instruments division of Bausch and Lomb in Rochester, New York.

In June 1957, Wil married the former Catherine Louise Rice in Milwaukee, WI. Their happy marriage produced three children (Kirk, Cory and Craig) and spanned 44 years until Catherine passed away in 2001. Following Catherine’s death, Wil returned to Madison, drawn by the memories of his college years, the proximity of his son Kirk, the liberal leanings of the population, and the many opportunities for fulfilling activities. There, Wil was warmly embraced by members of Joanne Storlie’s family during the ten years of their partnership.

Wil had a zest for life. Throughout their marriage, he and Catherine created and maintained numerous beautiful gardens. Wil’s retirement at age 63 allowed him the time for an active and fulfilling set of avocations. In Rochester, New York, he cleared terrain for bike trails; planted a daffodil meadow, which continues to draw people each spring; and was an active participant and instructor at the Athaneum senior education program. After moving to Madison, he participated in Sports for Active Seniors and attended many PLATO senior education courses (he loved play-reading, history, and music-related courses). Wil was also a member of the First Unitarian Society, where he served as a greeter and initiated several successful projects. He enjoyed conversation with fellow residents, friends, and interesting associates; frequented the Overture; and supported local arts and liberal causes. He remained active throughout his life and was a bicycle rider until age 86.

Wil’s favorite hobby was writing. In 1988, at age 62, he purchased his first computer and rediscovered his love for prose. He soon became a prolific and talented writer, participating in writing workshops and festivals wherever he lived. Wil was especially adept at political essay and commentary; creative fiction in which his quick wit and sense of humor were evident; and memoirs of family members and events. Most of his writings have been gathered into a 446-page hardbound book titled My Writing Journey, which he considered his “living legacy”, and another hardbound book titled Dear Joanne…Dear Wil. He also contributed many letters to the editor and several short pieces for various journals. Wil edited and annotated a book published by the Athenaeum in Rochester, N.Y. titled Remembrances of World War II: A Fifty-Year Perspective.

Wil was survived by his brother Robert and sister Carol; his children Kirk, Cory and Craig; his partner Joanne; his grandchildren Jennifer, Melissa, Kirk II, Ty, Shanna, Stacy, Summer, Isaiah, Anna, Clara, and Craig, Jr.; and his great-grandchildren Allison, Brandon, Casey, Vance, Gage, Emersyn, Cameron, Kalise, Hailee, Emma, and Finnley. Wil was preceded in death by his wife Catherine, his parents Carl and Goldie and his brothers Curtis, Donald, and James.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, Madison, WI, 53705, or to Alternatives for Battered Women, Inc., PO Box 39601, Rochester NY 14604-9601.