Richard "Dick" Bilstein

Richard "Dick" Bilstein, 85, of Big Rapids, Mich. and Show Low, Ariz., died Tuesday, June 19, 2007, in Gallup, New Mexico, of injuries sustained in an automobile accident the day before.

Dick was born January 22, 1922, in Modale, Iowa, the son of Robert and Marie Bilstein. He grew up in Patzau, Wisc. and finished high school in Superior.

Dick served in the United States Army in the Pacific Theater from 1942 to 1945 as a Sergeant in the 44th Tank Battalion, whose reunions he attended for many years. He saw combat on New Guinea and on Leyte and Luzon in the Philippines, and was among the first American troops posted to Japan after V-J Day in 1945.

Dick earned a bachelorís degree in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and had a long and successful career in the farm machinery industry in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. He retired in 1984.

On Feb. 14, 1946, Dick married Ethel Wilke, who preceded him in death in 1998. He was preceded in death by his parents and by his brothers Frederick and Robert and his sister Margaret. He is survived by a sister Alice Breece, of Phoenix and by a sister-in-law, Irene Butzlaff, of West Bend.

Dick was very proud of his family and is survived by his children Ellen (Doug) Haneline of Big Rapids; Jan (Al) Lathrop, of St. Paul, Minn.; Mary (Perry) Roberson, of Riverton, Wyo.; Dean (Laura) Bilstein of Topeka, Kan.; and Bonnie Bilstein of Sturgeon Bay; as well as by grandchildren Beth, Joellen, Sarah, Owen, Greg, Kendal, Cameron, Twila, Kari and Bryan; and two-great-grandchildren.

Cremation has taken place, and Dickís ashes will be buried with his wife Ethelís at the military cemetery in Fort Logan, Colo. A memorial service will be held at a later date.