Willard Leonard Ogren, 87, of Iron River, Wis., died on Friday, March 5th, 2021 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth, Minn. Willard was born on Sept. 22, 1933, in Superior, Wis., the son of Swan Leonard and Amanda Sabina (Gustafson) Ogren.
Willard grew up in Port Wing, Wis. and graduated from South Shore High School in 1951, where he was an outstanding athlete in basketball, track, and baseball. Sadly, his athletic endeavors were cut short when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and had to spend the majority of his senior year in the Bayfield Sanitarium.
He married Geraldine Marie Renier, “Jeri”, the love of his life, on July 26th, 1958. They celebrated 62 wonderful years together before his passing. Willard and Jeri raised their family in Port Wing, Wis. and then moved to Iron River, Wis. Neighbors often saw Willard on the pontoon in the summer, snowmobiling in the winter, or driving his “thoroughly used” 4-wheeler with Jeri, or side-saddle, through the neighborhood visiting family and friends. Willard’s passions were traveling the world with Jeri, family ski trips, and attending all of his children’s or grandchildren’s academic or athletic events.
In 1952, Willard started working as a teller at Security State Bank in Port Wing, Wis. and attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. After one year of college, he left to pursue banking full time. In a short time, he was promoted to bank manager at Security State Bank in Iron River, Wis. Throughout his years, Willard and Jeri purchased stock and became the owners of the Security State Bank (Port Wing, Iron River, Brule). Later acquired Security Bank and Farmers State Bank (New Auburn, Ridgeland, Dallas, Sand Creek, and Bloomer, WI.) At 87, Willard was still working at the bank every day closing in on a 70-year career in the industry he loved and where he always had time and a story to tell anyone who called or stopped in. He felt great gratification when customers’ businesses grew and prospered. His appetite to be busy lead him into additional business endeavors in the insurance, hotel and other various ventures.
Over the years, Willard has served on many boards and associations including the Wisconsin Bankers Association, the American Bankers Association Council, Washington D.C., and the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank Nominating Committee.
Throughout his years, Willard has given back to his community by volunteering to numerous organizations, some being: Lions Club Charter member 56 yrs, Salvation Army board member 20yrs, Management of Toys for Tots and Teens which has provided Christmas presents for over 25 years. He and Jeri have provided scholarships to South Shore and Northwestern School Districts and to U.M.D. He purchased computers for all South Shore K-12 students along with donating funds to improve the athletic facilities. He created the First Lutheran Church Trust in Port Wing to ensure the churches future existence.
He was preceded in death by his parents, infant daughter, Diane, brother, Vernon, and sister, Evelyn Addis.
Willard is survived by his wife, Geraldine; children, Scott (Melanie), their children, Eric, Kayla (Lamine Aidara), Weston, Amanda, and Andrew; Mark (Lisa), their children Will, Derek (Cassie), and David; Lori; and Greg (Chris), their children Brooke, Jack, and Grant; sister-in-law, Helen Ogren, and brother-in-law, Paul Addis.
A visitation will be held on Sunday, March 21st, from 4-6 p.m. at Downs-LeSage Funeral Home, 1304 Hammond Ave, Superior, Wis. The funeral on Monday, March 22nd, will be for family only, but the celebration of life is open to all and will take place after the funeral at Northern Pines Golf Course in Iron River, Wis. from 3-6 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial can be made to Port Wing and Iron River Lutheran Churches.
The Downs-LeSage Funeral Home, 1304 Hammond Avenue, Superior is assisting the family with arrangements. To leave a condolence or sign the guestbook, please visit www.downs-lesage.com.
By, Alex Paniagua