William Bolin, 82

Bill Bolin

William Bolin age 82 of Garvin passed away Sunday, October 15, 2017 at Our House Hospice in Slayton. Funeral Services will be held at 10:30 am Friday at Lake Sarah Baptist Church. Visitation will be held on Thursday from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. AT THE CHURCH, and will continue one hour prior to the services on Friday.  Interment will be held at a later date.  Memorials will be donated to the Lake Sarah Baptist Church and the Tracy Area Education Foundation Fund. Online condolences may be sent at www.stephensfuneralservice.com  Stephens Funeral Service – Tracy Area Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
William T. (Bill) Bolin was born on July 29, 1935 in Mitchell, SD to Tillman W. Bolin and Norma Jean (Young) Bolin. Bill attended grades 1-12 in Slayton, MN. He was active in football, basketball, baseball, school paper, class plays, and speech. As a junior, he represented Slayton at Boy’s State. Following graduation in 1953 he worked for the Murray County Herald and that fall entered Macalester College in St. Paul where he studied Journalism and played both baseball and basketball.  He discovered that journalism wasn’t for him and transferred to Mankato State University working toward degrees in history, English, and physical education. The summer of 1954 he was offered the position of Community Education Director in Slayton; a position he loved and for which he returned in ‘55 –‘57.
In December 1956 he began his 10-week experience as a student teacher in Tracy, MN and was hired the following fall as a history teacher. Over the next 50 years he worked in the Tracy school system; retiring in 1997 and continuing as a substitute teacher thru 2007. During these years he impacted many generations of students as a teacher, coach, referee, behind-the-wheel instructor, and friend.  He had a knack for finding commonalities with all students and was able to build enduring relationships which lasted through his final days as former students called and visited to share their stories of the difference his support made in their lives. During his early years in Tracy, he worked summers at the municipal pool which ultimately led to meeting Sandy Allumbaugh in 1958. They dated while she attended college and married in 1961.  He continued his love of sports and the outdoors by playing baseball for the Tracy Engineers and hunting the backroads of Southwest Minnesota, which often brought him to the lakes area and Tennis Shoe Pass between lakes Maria and Sarah.  In 1968, two days before the Tracy Tornado, they purchased 8 acres of alfalfa on Lake Sarah which initiated an almost 50-year love affair of developing and caring for this piece of heaven on earth. Trees, birds, plants, and wildlife became his passion as they built a lake home and moved out of Tracy full-time in 1991. The acreage remained his love through his last day at home as he enjoyed the sunset from his deck before entering a hospice facility.  Over his lifetime he took on a variety of endeavors that both supported his family and fostered his love of country and Southwest Minnesota History.  He served 20 years in the Army National Guard and was called to active duty for the Marshall Flood and Tracy Tornado.  He served as the Park Naturalist at Lake Shetek State Park for 17 years which allowed him to share the history, flora, and fauna of Southwest Minnesota with people from around the country.   After leaving the DNR, to have more time with his growing family, he used his expertise to teach Elderhostel at Shetek Lutheran Ministries for 20 years. His love of history ran deep and was the common thread which he used to build relationships throughout his life.  No matter the city, state, or country he would bond with people over a common person or event; building the base of friendships he grew with so many people.  He loved writing the “History is Life” column for the SW MN Sailor and penned over 75 articles over his 19 year run. He also grew to admire and respect the Native American culture which plays such a prominent role in Southwest Minnesota history.  Throughout his career he strived to bring the cultures together hosting a rededication of the Lake Shetek Monument, hosting anniversaries of the Shetek historical events and working on the project which led the US Fish and Wildlife Service to purchase the 640 acre Slaughter Slough area.  Bill had many interests and hobbies but his greatest passion and love were for his family. It was not uncommon for Bill and Sandy to make a weekend out of traveling across the southern half of Minnesota to support his grandchildren in their many activities. As his grandchildren grew, he would read them books, recite poetry and tell them stories of his years growing up in SW Minnesota. His detailed storytelling among the grandchildren is legendary and a cherished memory. Bill treated everyone with respect and was always willing to give of himself to others. This legacy of service and love has left a lasting imprint on his grandchildren’s lives. He was a member of Lake Sarah Baptist Church. Consistent with his love of nature, Bill was baptized in the waters of Lake Shetek on July 26, 2009.  Bill enjoyed Wednesday morning men’s Bible study and was a strong supporter of the church and its many ministries.
Bill is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sandy, and children Kelli (Jim) Vogel of Northfield, Tom (Marilyn) Bolin of Marshall, and Shannon (Tom) Hook of Tracy. Grandchildren Matt and Mike Vogel, Grace and Laura Bolin, and Josh, Joe (Kimberly), Cassandra, Sarita and Annaka Hook.  Nieces and Nephews Shannon (Wayne) Pederson, Sue Brown, Sally (Tom) Berg, Bill Johlfs, Lynn (Dan) Iwaszko, and Kris (Jeff) Salmon.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, sister Carol Johlfs, brother-in-law Wally Johlfs, and grandnephew Bob Brown.