William Sayles

William Sayles
William Sayles

William (Bill) Sayles died at home on July 10, 2014, at the age of 94. He was born on February 15, 1920, the only child of his then 40 year old parents, William W. Sayles of Potsdam NY and Enga Anderson Sayles of Racine WI, who had met at Gallaudet University in Washington DC. Bill’s father died when he was 15. His mother managed to make it possible for him to complete high school during the depths of the Great Depression. He graduated from Rugby High School, in Rugby ND in 1938. He started college at the University of Wisconsin – Madison shortly before World War II. He enlisted in the US Army after Pearl Harbor, and served throughout the war. His final assignment was as a demolitionist in Okinawa with the 1915th Engineers Aviation Battalion. He returned to the US in early 1946, and almost immediately married his fiancé, Kathryn (Kay) Andersen, whom he had first met in “country school” in Racine when they were children.

Bill finished his engineering degree at the UW in 1949. Soon thereafter he and Kay moved with their infant son to what was then an unplumbed, half electrified shack on 100 acres in the country near Paoli WI. They did, in fact, live there happily ever after until Kay’s death in 2008, after more than 62 years of marriage. Their children were their pride and joy.

He shared his love of learning with his children, grandchildren and great grandchild. He loved to share and discuss ideas and events with his family and friends around the dining table. For his family he was a constant source of guidance, counsel, support, free labor and love.

Bill worked primarily for the State of Wisconsin after he became an engineer. He ended his professional life as the Chief Engineer of the Public Service Commission. During his working life at the DNR and the PSC he worked on a number of water quality and hydroelectric power projects, and was responsible for monitoring the safety of Wisconsin’s dams. He was significantly involved with establishing protection for wetlands and limiting development in flood plains in the state.

The study of history in general, and in particular, the history of the American Civil War and of World War II was one of his many deep interests. Bill also loved the outdoors. For many years he kept a small herd of beef cattle, and farmed the land to provide feed for them. He kept and rode horses, enjoyed upland bird hunting and deer hunting, and always had at least one enormous dog at his side, indoors and out. He also loved designing and building. The shack in which he and Kay started their family life became a comfortable home as he gradually rebuilt it over, under and around his family. He made lovely objects for his wife, his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren, which all have and treasure. He enjoyed meeting new people right up until the end of his life, and they enjoyed meeting him.

All of Bill’s children, grandchildren, and his great grandchild survive him. HIs children are William (Bill) (Cathy McCarthy) Sayles of Madison; John (Ann) Sayles of Belleville; and Karen (Doug) McAda of Bosque Farms NM. His grandchildren are Ryan Uphoff of Madison; Keith (Joanne Kane) Sayles of Madison; Nathaniel (Lynn) Kale of Olympia WA; Elizabeth Sayles of New York NY; Bryn (Nigel Pekenc) Sayles of London, England; Patrick McCarthy Sayles of Madison, WI; Kathryn (Marshall Ross) of Fort Myers FL; and Daniel McAda of Bosque Farms NM. His great granddaughter, and newest love of his life, is Kathryn Kane Sayles of Madison WI

Bill Sayles lived a long and productive life. He was a wonderful storyteller, and a devoted friend to many. He will be missed.

A gathering of relatives and friends will be held from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at the Becker-Beal Funeral Home, 109 Greenway Cross, Belleville, WI with a Time of Remembrance at 7:00 p.m. during the gathering.

Memorials are suggested to the Wisconsin Historical Society.

An online memorial with guestbook is available at www.bealfuneralhomes.com