Event memorializes Guelzow's love of fishing and kids

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Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

“The two best times to fish is when it’s rainin’ and when it ain’t.” — Patrick F. McManus

My article today is about how family and friends are remembering their loved one by sharing his passion for fishing and his love of children with the community. I guess you could say they are “paying it forward.”

When Bill Guelzow was about 7 years old, his father bought him a fishing pole and took him fishing, just once. But once was enough! After that Bill was pretty much hooked. His passion for fishing lasted his entire lifetime.

Guelzow’s wife, Gloria, wanted to do something positive to commemorate Bill’s life, something that might live on in others. Gloria, a teacher, said she and Bill both felt kids should get away from video games and television to spend time outdoors having fun.

Bill loved kids. They were drawn to him and often tagged along when he took his own children, Matt and Kate, fishing.

Gloria joked, “Kate seemed to have quite a knack for getting her fishing line caught in trees or snagged on logs. On more than one occasion Bill said he spent more time untangling her line than actually fishing himself, but he loved every minute of it.”

Gloria knew she wanted to come up with an idea that put together two of the things that brought him joy: fishing and kids. She remembered Bill telling her how he loved fishing after going fishing just that one time with his dad.

Matt Guelzow commented, “We decided to use the monetary memorial gifts to provide an annual fishing day for some community youth.”

Gloria added, “If this experience helps even one child develop a lifelong passion for fishing, it will be worth it.”

Last spring, Bill’s longtime friend Ron Jesse talked with Lori Smits, summer school coordinator. Together they came up with the idea of a fishing field trip.

Guelzow commented, “Ron helped me buy fishing poles because each child selected (through a drawing) is given a rod, reel and tackle to use for the day, and it is then theirs to keep. I owe Ron a huge debt of gratitude for getting the first and now second annual fishing day organized.”

Jesse said, “Bill was a special guy. I would do anything for him. We shared a lot of good times.”

He quickly added “I didn’t do anything more than anyone would do for a friend.”

Guelzow continued, “This year’s summer school coordinator, Tami Bagstad, helped us plan the second annual fishing day taking place at Huckleberry Harbor on Bill’s (June) birthday. I really appreciated Tami’s willingness to assist.”

The Guelzow family said they also owe a world of thanks to Tom Strauss. Tom and his wife, Mary, are both originally from Shawano. Tom teaches the students how to string the line on the pole, tie basic knots, attach sinkers and bobbers and bait a hook. Once Tom and the volunteers have taught the basics, it’s time to fish! Mary takes wonderful photographs of the young fishermen and their helpers.

Bill’s college friends who are volunteering to fish with the students are Jim Dhuey, Ken Wochos, Richard Glander, and Jan and Marsha Berg. Local friends volunteering are Ron Jesse, Tony Piantek, Marshall Venz, Chuck Kunitz, Bill Arendt, Rob Gajewski and Chuck Raasch.

Strauss commented, “Bill was truly a unique man, one loved by many. He touched most everyone he met and when Bill was with you, he made you feel like you were his best friend. He gave joy to so many and this “take a kid fishing day” is one way for me to honor his memory and miss him a little less.”

Strauss continued, “I’m thankful my life was touched by Bill and I am happy we are able to pass on his love for fishing to another generation of Shawano boys and girls.”

One of the summer school students lucky enough to have his name drawn to participate is Austin Dillenburg, son of Jason and Dana Dillenburg. Austin commented, “I’m happy that this fishing day is held for kids to learn about the great sport of fishing because Bill liked it so much.”

Dana Dillenburg added, “Bill loved to share his passion for fishing. When I told him how my son Austin (then 5 years old) was really getting into fishing, Bill gave him a few of his lures. Six years later, those lures are still Austin’s favorites.”

Isn’t this community blessed with wonderful people?

The answer to last week’s trivia question — Can you name the business located at 221 E. Green Bay St. (1974) owned by John C. Bastar? — is Ye Olde Print Shoppe.

This week’s question is: What store located at 203 S. Main St. (1970) did Kenneth (Natalie) Fetzer own?

Happy Father’s Day!

Lorna Marquardt is mayor of Shawano.