William John (Bill) Macheel, a long time resident in the Motley-Pillager area known for his kindness and love of music, died on May 16, 2019 at age 95.
Born in southeastern South Dakota in 1923, Bill grew up in the Dakotas until his family settled on a farm in Motley Township. Bill learned to play several musical instruments while going to school and helping out on the farm. He played tenor banjo with local dance bands in the Motley-Pillager area. After he graduated from Pillager high school in 1943, Bill was sent to the European theater of World War II. Upon his safe return, Bill worked on the family farm and also as a driver for the Wiley car hauling company. In 1949, he married Dorothy Fawell, a teacher at Motley High School. The couple lived in Valley City, N.D, Hibbing, and South St. Paul, where Bill and Dorothy raised three children. For more than 25 years, Bill drove gasoline trucks for Texaco/Chevron. After Bill and Dorothy retired in 1980, they moved back to Motley and lived along the Crow Wing River. They expanded the family garden into a truck farm selling produce at local farmers markets — including their famous ‘Macheel Muskmelons.’ Bill was an integral part of his community along the river. He served as treasurer for Motley Township for more than 20 years. He played his banjo as part of The Vagabonds, a local band that entertained residents at senior living facilities in the area.
Bill is survived by a son, Bill (Sue), a daughter, Barbara (Kurt) Olson, four grandchildren, two great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and one very good cat. Preceding him in death are his wife, Dorothy, one daughter, Patricia, and one granddaughter.
A memorial service for Bill will be held at 1 PM on Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Brenny Family Funeral Chapel, in Staples, Minnesota.