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Old 06-14-2009, 06:00 AM
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William L. "Bill" Schultz, 85, Manitowoc, WI

William L. (Bill) Schultz, age 85, of Manitowoc, formerly of Madison, passed away on Sunday, June 7, 2009 at his home.

He was born in Manitowoc on Nov. 25, 1923 to William G. (Billy) and Linda C. (Geisler) Schultz in Manitowoc. Born into a circus family, Bill was an accomplished acrobat and all-around athlete. Following high school and one year at the University of Wisconsin, he enlisted in the Marine Corp in 1942. In the Marines he was sent to college at Cornell University where he lettered in wrestling. He became a Marine Champion in both boxing and wrestling, which led to touring and performing at war bond shows. One of his buddies on the team was actor, Robert Ryan, who took him on a studio tour where Bill had his famous wrestling match with John Wayne, who he stayed in contact with until Wayne's death. The match made national news and was very one-sided in the young Marine's favor. Following the war he resumed his studies at the UW, receiving a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Physical Education, as well as being captain of the Gymnastics Team and becoming a Big 10 Champion. Stories have been told for years about his acrobatic stunts during his years at Wisconsin during the halftime of football and basketball games, including doing a handstand in the rafters of the old Field House. Turning down an offer to perform with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus he began his YMCA career as Physical Director for the Madison YMCA in 1949. Bill then became the youngest Y Executive Director in the country in Keokuk, IA, moved to Oshkosh to start that Y and then returned to Madison in 1957 to become Executive Director. From 1957 to 1972 he led the Y from one building and a camp to a Metropolitan organization with four branches and a renovated Camp Wakanda. The East and West Branch YMCA facilities, which he raised the funds to build, are still the foundation of the YMCA of Dane County. In 1959 the Wisconsin State Journal began Know Your Madisonian. He was the second person featured in this recognition that continues today. Looking for a new challenge, and going home to his circus roots, Bill became Executive Director of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo in 1972. For 12 years he grew the attraction during a tough economy and without the funding provided for many years from the Schlitz Brewery, who sponsored the Circus Parade in Milwaukee, which was cancelled after the 1973 parade. During his tenure he grew the museum from primarily a repository for restored circus wagons and memorabilia to an attraction featuring top circus acts and other creative features that enhanced the attraction. In 1980 Bill brought the Circus Parade and 100,000 visitors to the streets of Baraboo. In 1981 and 1982 he staged the largest Circus Parade in the world for the city of Chicago, to the delight of one and a half million people who lined the Michigan Ave. parade route. During his career with the YMCA and while at the Circus World Museum he continued a tremendously successful athletic career. A many time Wisconsin Paddleball champion and top squash and badminton player, he became National Paddleball Champion in 1962 and was runner-up three more times. Also, at the age of 44 in 1968, he became the first National Racquetball Champion and was an inaugural inductee in the Wisconsin Racquetball Hall of Fame. Bill is also a member of the National Paddleball Hall of Fame and the Lake Shore All-Sports Hall of Fame in Manitowoc. Also, while Executive Director of the Madison Metropolitan YMCA his knowledge of self-defense, learned from his dad and taught during WWII, was put to use teaching members of the Madison Police Department and Dane County Sheriffs Department. Never one to sit still, after retiring in 1984, Bill made good use of his degrees in education and became an extremely popular substitute teacher throughout south central Wisconsin. Hundreds of students loved his wonderful stories, artistic talent drawing cartoons and his enthusiastic approach to life. Even as his bad knees from all his years of sports kept him off the racquetball and squash courts, he continued to exercise and quench his competitive thirst playing top-level poker. Moving back to Manitowoc in 2002 gave him the opportunity to reconnect with the many residents who performed in the "famous" Billy Schultz Circus created by his dad. His dad had been a famous circus performer and vaudeville star. During the depression he was asked by the kids of Manitowoc to teach them circus acts and each year they put on a circus. Begun in the mid-1920s the Circus School continued until 1950, with a number of performers becoming major circus stars. For many years Bill was one of his dad's top performers.


Following the death of his first wife, Grace G. (Parrott) Schultz in 1987 after 37 years of marriage, he married Carol Lynn Mosely in 1988. He is further survived by sons William (Rebecca); Robert (Denise); James (Pamela); Timothy (Julie); daughter Tammy Greiber (Paul); Carol's daughter Lynn Mosely Girocco (Robert) and her son William Mosely (Kelly); eight grandchildren; Cody, Allison, Kade, Bailey, Ian, Loran, Logan, Lucas and three step-grandchildren; Taylor, Emily and Elizabeth. He was a wonderful father, grandfather and husband and will be truly missed. The family would like to thank Dr. Yetter, Dr. Wolf and the staff at the Aurora Medical Center, Two Rivers for the compassionate care they gave Bill.

The funeral service, with Reverend Doctor Matthew L. Sauer, at the First Presbyterian Church, 502 N. 8th St., Manitowoc will be held on Monday, June 14, 2009. Visitation will be at 10:30 a.m. with the service at 11:30 a.m., with a meal to follow. Memorials may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Manitowoc. When we remember Bill Schultz the one word that comes to mind is enthusiasm. He was truly enthusiastic about his family, his work, his friends, his passions and life.
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