William John Voller, 96, a resident of LaGrange Park and longtime former resident of North Riverside, succumbed to bone and prostate cancer on Nov. 16, 2014 at Plymouth Place in LaGrange Park.
Born Nov. 30, 1917, Mr. Voller grew up in Cicero, the second youngest of eight children. He graduated from Wilson Elementary School in 1932 and Morton High School in 1936.
He spent just a semester at the University of Illinois before being called home to help support his large family. In 1941, he earned a certificate from the Engineering, Science and Management War Training Program at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Mr. Voller enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941 at the age of 23 and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in 1942. By the end of the war in 1945, he’d reach the rank of major. He resigned active duty in 1946, but remained in the Army Reserve until Nov. 26, 1977, retiring at a lieutenant colonel.
During the war, Mr. Voller served in the 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and in France and was awarded the bronze star and silver star for valor and gallantry in combat.
In June 1944, the 9th Division was sent to France and fought to trap German forces in the northern part of the Cotentin Peninsula. It was during that campaign in an attack on Gourbesville, France, that Capt. Voller led a tank forward to overrun an enemy position until the tank was knocked out of action.
He then organized a flanking force and led it across 200 yards of exposed terrain to the German right flank. He suffered a gunshot wound to the head, but refused to leave the field and continued to lead his men while advancing on the German position. He was wounded twice more, in the leg and the back before he was evacuated from the battlefield.
Mr. Voller’s acts were chronicled in the 9th Division’s history Eight Stars to Victory, published in 1948. More recently he was featured on the History Channel’s 2009 production Patton 360, a documentary series.
After the war, Mr. Voller worked for Templeton Kenly and Company, ending his career in 1978 as vice president and general manager of Commander Manufacturing Company, a subsidiary of Templeton Kenly.
Locally, Mr. Voller was a volunteer leader of Boy Scout Troop 62 in North Riverside, where he lived for more than 60 years. He was also active in the West Suburban Council in LaGrange as a regional and district commissioner and council treasurer. For his years of dedication, the council honored Mr. Voller in 1983 with the Silver Bearer Award.
He was also active in the Civil Defense program in North Riverside in the 1950s and 1960s.
Mr. Voller married Mildred Vicenik on July 3, 1948. The couple had two children, William J. Voller Jr. and Elizabeth Ann Voller. Mrs. Voller preceded her husband in death in 2003 at the age of 82 after 55 years of marriage. Elizabeth Voller died in 1984 at the age of 27.
He is survived by his son, William (Corilee Zaba); his grandchildren, William J. Voller III (Dr. Stephanie Baehl) and Bradley W. Voller (Ashley Lalonde); and five great-grandchildren, Reece B. Voller, Owen S. Voller, William J. Voller IV, Pierce L. Voller and Elizabeth L. Voller.
Visitation will be from on Wednesday, Nov. 19 from 3 to 8 p.m. and on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 9 to 9:30 a.m. at Hitzeman Funeral Home, 9445 31st St. in Brookfield. A funeral Mass will be celebrated on Nov. 20 at 10 a.m. at Mater Christi Church in North Riverside, followed by interment at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice.