Harry W. Wollgast
Age 89 of Morris and formerly Gardner, passed away Thursday August 30, 2012 at Morris Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.
Born February 21, 1923 in a humble farm home in rural Gardner, Harry was a son of the late Bernhard "Ben" and Theda Janssen-Wollgast. The local county school provided his grade school education and he was a graduate of Gardner-South Wilmington High School. After high school, Harry ventured many fields of work. He spent a few years as a farm hand and during the Winter when work lagged, Harry ventured to Chicago where he was hired as a combination cook, waiter and dish washer. This lasted two years and from there he accepted a position in a foundry as a moulder. Chicago did not have the appeal of the farm where he was raised, so in the year 1946 he returned to a farm of his own in Gardner and discovered the love of a wonderful person: Virginia Uerkwitz, whom he married February 23, 1946. Besides the crops to raise and harvest, there were also 15 to 20 cows to feed and milk the year round. Winter months on the farm prevented carrying on outside work, so Harry then accepted employment with the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant where he took on various trades, including: carpenter, plumber, group leader and finally worked himself up to a Foreman's classification.
During the 1960's Harry took a course in Kansas City and graduated as an auctioneer. This was a job that he greatly enjoyed and at that time provided part time work for an extra income.
In 1965 he took on a full time job with the munitions plant as a Safety Instructor. This involved teaching plant safety techniques regarding the operation of Government vehicles and mobile equipment, which subsequently lead to testing and assigning licenses and qualifying operators. Due to the curtailed production schedules involving a reduction in plant personnel, he was also assigned to take over a labor crew of 30 women. This came about due to the passing of the equal rights law by Congress, and the labor crew functioned successfully under Harry's guidance.
Harry's life work lead him to a continued successful career which included: Harry and David Wollgast Auctioneer Services, which he owned and operated for more than 41 years. He also held a real estate broker's license and sold for Early Real Estate in Joliet and Harper Real Estate and Coldwell Banker Real Estate, both of Morris. Most recently many will remember Harry for his familiar and pleasant greeting at Wal-Mart in Morris, where he welcomed patrons for 13 years.
Harry was a member of Goodfarm Trinity Lutheran Church, Toastmasters, the Pure Milk Association, Goodfarm PTA and the Gardner Lions Club to mention a few of the organizations, charities and clubs he belonged. Harry served on the Grundy County Board, was named the 1st Corn King of Grundy County and was voted as Grundy County's Auctioneer. He enjoyed volunteering his auctioneer services to Blue Cap, 4-H and many churches over the years. He was also a talented musician and played the piano and organ at area churches. In his free time Harry enjoyed pinochle, fishing and flower gardening.
The family wishes to extend their sincere appreciation for the kind, dedicated and compassionate services provided by Chicago Home Health and Joliet Area Community Hospice. They also wish to share Harry's favorite saying: "Keep smiling, Be Happy..."
Survivors include his loving wife of 66 years: Virginia; four children: Sandra Lichner of Florida, Diana Hillman (Dana) of Pennsylvania, Deborah Raymond (Doc Christensen) of Morris and David Wollgast (Debbie) of Gardner; eleven grandchildren: Heather Siminski (Charles) of Florida, Brad Hillman (Laurie) of Plainfield, Stacy Hildy (John) of Elmhurst, Heidi Lichner of Florida, Colleen Wee (Craig) of Pennsylvania, Angela Sendra (Nick Bertino) of Morris, David Wollgast (Sara) of Verona, Michael Wollgast of North Carolina, Mary Wollgast of Joliet, Annie Sims (David) of South Wilmington and Theresa Wollgast of Gardner; twelve great grandchildren: Nathan Sendra Camden Hildy, Kylie Siminski, Luke Rients, Jae-Lynn Wee, Justin Sendra, Simon Hildy, Kaleb Wee, Mason Hildy, Colin Bertino, Maddie Sims and Evan Sims; one brother Bernhard Wollgast (Anna) of South Caroline and one sister-in-law Dorothy Wollgast of Dwight, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and friends.
Harry was preceded in death by his parents; brother William Wollgast; sister Helen (Ralph) Chamness and two sisters-in-law: Lee Wollgast and Pauline Cagle.
Visitation and Video Tribute will be held on Tuesday September 4, 2012 between the hours of 2:00PM and 8:00PM at Reeves Funeral Home, 408 East Washington Street (one block East of Illinois Route 47) in Morris, and again Wednesday September 5th at Goodfarm Trinity Lutheran Church, 515 East Stonewall Road in rural Dwight from 10:00AM until time of funeral service 11:00AM. Reverend William T. Mitschke will officiate and burial will follow in Goodfarm Cemetery. Pallbearers and Honorary Pallbearers will be Harry's grandsons and grandsons-in-law.
Preferred memorials may be made as gifts in Harry's memory to Goodfarm Trinity Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 27, Dwight, Illinois 60420 or to a charity of the donor's choosing.
Friends may sign the online guest book or send private condolences to the family by logging onto: www.ReevesFuneral.com
Funeral services and arrangements have been made under the direction and care of Reeves Funeral Homes, Ltd. in Morris. (815/942-2500)