William Lyle Klitzke was born on October 8, 1934 to August and Bessie (Hartson) Klitzke in Pipestone, MN. As a young boy his family farmed between Holland, MN and Woodstock, MN. His father died when he was just five years old. His mother had a hard time and remarried Henry “Hank” Hanson. Hank was in the Army so the family moved a lot. Bill was always proud of his German heritage, his grandparents moved to the United States from Germany. Bill attended school in Pipestone, and when the family moved his sophomore year he attended Lake Benton High School. As a sophomore he started playing football, basketball, and baseball with the varsity teams. He was also an all-state football player his senior year. He graduated as valedictorian of his class in 1954. On December 18, 1954 Bill was united in marriage to his high school sweetheart, Betty Whipple at the United Methodist Church in Lake Benton, MN. Bill enlisted in the United States Army and was deployed to Korea and played sports while there. Upon his honorable discharge he returned and attended Mankato State College and graduated with his degree as a math teacher. Bill and Betty lived and taught (and Bill coached) in many areas throughout their life together. First they were in Sacred Heart, MN where Bill was head basketball coach. Then Pipestone, MN, where he was head football coach. He also taught and coached at Irondale High School in New Brighton, MN. He worked for RT Wilson selling hats and then opened his own business, B&B Athletics (Betty and Bill) selling hats and jackets. Bill retired in 2000, and shortly thereafter he and Betty bought a place in Florida where they enjoyed their winters together. Every summer they returned to Minnesota to enjoy the company of their family and many friends. Bill was confirmed later in life and became a born again Christian. He loved God above all else and looked forward to being with Him for eternity! He is enjoying that now! He was a member of the United Methodist Church in Lake Benton.
Bill died peacefully on Monday, July 13, 2020 at his home in Lake Benton. Bill’s family is incredibly thankful for the amazing care he received from family, friends, and hospice staff.
Bill will be remembered for his love of God, and his love of family. He never hesitated to tell Betty he loved her, even “to the moon and back.” He was devoted to her until the very end. Bill was incredibly passionate about sports. He loved playing sports, and loved watching his kids, and then later, grandchildren in their athletic endeavors. Bill loved to golf; as a snowbird in Florida he golfed every day! Bill’s friends were many, coaches, teachers, golf buddies, he loved them all!
Bill is lovingly remembered by his wife of 65 years, Betty, of Lake Benton; five children, Cindy Lindner of Sun City Center, FL, Tom (Jill) Klitzke of Milwaukee, WI, Tammy (Mike) Welch of Lake Elmo, MN, Dan (Jennifer) Klitzke of St. Frances, MN, and Kris (John) Johnson of Woodbury, MN; 11 grandchildren, Erica Wilson, Dusty Lindner, Shay Klitzke, Marshall Klitzke, Lindsey Wojski, Danielle Yegge, Kelsey Welch, Ryan Klitzke, Katie Winters, Erin Johnson, and Grace Cooper; 16 great-grandchildren, Landon, Logan, Parker, Preston, Cooper, Oakley, Dominic, Finnegan, William, Kaden, Reid, Tyce, Mia, Cameron, Levi, and Elsie; and one sister, Mavis (Rudy) Wolf of Fr. Lauderdale, FL. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Earl (Lila), Gus (Donna), and Larry; and sisters, Evelynn (Vincent), LaVonne (Weldon), Doris (Gordon).