DIXON – Bill Cies, 93, finished his earthly journey peacefully Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, at Serenity Hospice & Home in Oregon.
He was born April 5, 1924, to George and Naomi Schonk Cies in Norborne, Missouri. Bill attended Sterling High School and the University of Illinois until he joined the war effort in 1943, by enlisting in the Naval Air Force. After serving for 3 years and receiving his pilot’s license, he returned to the university, and upon graduation applied at Northwestern Steel and Wire Co., (“NS&W”) to become their first pilot. The owner of NS&W didn’t like to fly, so instead, Bill was hired as an inside sales correspondent and advanced within the company to eventually become Vice President of Sales and an officer of the company. During his time at NS&W, Bill served on various industry committees; one of which involved advising the federal government about protection for the domestic steel industry in light of foreign imports. In his earlier years, Bill spent many weekends at the local airports, flying single engine planes. After 36 years, he retired, and for the next 37 years, he kept busy on his John Deere tractor mowing the lawn, picking up sticks and keeping his Grand Detour home looking immaculate with his bride of 70 years.
Bill married Martha Joan Phillips on Oct. 30, 1948, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and convinced her to move to Dixon, where in 1952, they bought their first home. Bill and Martha lived and raised a family of four children in Dixon, until they moved in 1977 to Grand Detour.
During the next 40 or so years in Grand Detour, Bill was active in the community. He served as a trustee on the Grand Detour township board for a number of years, and always enjoyed the John Deere museum and art events in the village. His BBQ chicken was always excellent; the recipe his own concoction. Everyone always thought he had as much fun cooking it as he did serving it. When Bill got involved with an activity he really ran with it. Bill regularly played golf and collected antiques until a latent back injury, caused by a plane crash during training exercises, began to slow him down. He always had a passion for sports cars, and in his later years drove on an occasion or two when he shouldn’t have. In recent years, he was diagnosed with dementia, which dramatically affected his outgoing personality, although he would always surprise his visitors by recognizing them at the door and warmly welcoming them in. Our memories will always be of the smile on his face, and of the time we spent with him.
He is survived by his wife, Martha Cies; children, Deborah (Ron Moon) Shannahan, W. Michael (Penny) Cies, Thomas (Jody) Cies, and Marti (Michael) DePue; grandchildren, Tara Shannahan, Micah Shannahan, Emmalyn Cies, Abigail Cies, Andrew (Elizabeth) Cies, Rachel (Jason) Sangworn, W. Austin Headley, and Caitlyn (Ian) Pack; and great-grandchildren, Luke Sangworn, Ashton Headley, Adalynn Headley, Audrey Flores, and Elena Pack.
Bill is preceded in death by his siblings, George Cies, Gene Besse, Marilyn Watson, and James Cies; and one granddaughter, Alana Beth Cies.
Gracious appreciation and thanks from the family go out to the nurses and other caregivers who helped Bill in recent years.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Chapel Hill Funeral Home, 1121 N. Galena Ave., Dixon. A celebration of life will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Peter Episcopal Church, 8225 S. Main St., Grand Detour, with Father Thomas Lamb officiating. Pallbearers will be Ron Moon, Michael Cies, Thomas Cies, and Michael DePue. Honorary pallbearers will be Micah Shannahan, Andrew Cies, Jason Sangworn, and Austin Headley. Burial will be at Grand Detour Cemetery, with military honors accorded by the Dixon American Legion.
Memorial contributions may be made in Bill’s honor to Serenity Hospice & Home, 1658 S. State Route 2, Oregon, IL 61061.
Visit chapelhilldixon.com to send condolences.