In Memory of William E. Koser

September 18, 1937 - August 20, 2023

A charming and generous hearted metalworker, storyteller, and faithful Christian, William "Bill" Eldon Koser, died peacefully on August 20, 2023 in the home he shared with his loving wife, JoAnn, after a rapid decline due to amyloidosis and multiple myeloma.

The only child of Bill and Ella Koser of Almena, he was born on September 18, 1937. From a very young age, he learned blacksmithing and metalwork from his dad and uncles at Koser Iron Works of Almena. At Barron High he met a cute majorette named Mari. He said he could talk to her about anything. After earning a BA in mechanical engineering from Valparaiso University in 1961, he moved to Madison, where Mari was finishing her degree.

They married on January 20, 1962. He took an engineering job in Denver, CO, but his father soon fell ill, so Bill, Mari, and baby Heidi returned to Almena in 1963 to take over Koser Iron Works. His daughters, Lani and Heather, joined the family before they moved to Barron in 1969. Bill moved the blacksmith shop to Barron and grew it into a metal fabrication plant. In 1979, he purchased a second business, Poweram. Even from the hospital in the last couple months of life, he was running that business and inventing things in his brilliant mind.

One early story of his creativity and entrepreneurship involved him making wrought iron railings for houses around town as a teenager. You can see Bill's artistic metalwork at many local places: railings at St. Matthew Lutheran in Almena and First Lutheran in Barron, the arch at St. Matthew Cemetery on Highway 8, and bell towers on Barron's old courthouse lawn and the Methodist church in Turtle Lake. A fan favorite is the "Iron Express" he built for Barron's bicentennial parade in 1976, which he donated to the Barron County Historical Museum.

Bill’s other passions included singing, acting, telling stories to anyone he saw, studying the Bible, deer hunting, canoeing and fishing (especially in the Boundary Waters), teaching Sunday School, Kiwanis, the Barron County Historical Museum, and more. He deeply loved his large family, and on August 18, 2019, at age 81, he married an old family friend, JoAnn Jones. His heart expanded with love for all of her family as well. Bill and JoAnn had great fun traveling coast to coast to visit friends and family and volunteering together, especially in their weekly jail ministry.

He is survived by his wife, JoAnn Koser; daughters, Heidi (Danny) Wenzel, Lani (Terry) Koons, and Heather (Mooraly) Baradan; 14 grandchildren; 2 step grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; and so many more who called him grandpa or cousin/uncle/friend.

He is preceded in death by his parents, William and Ella (Thorbeck) Koser; and his wife, Mari Risberg Koser.

In lieu of flowers, send memorials for the Barron County Historical Museum or Wilderness Inquiry (an organization facilitating Boundary Waters experiences for kids and adults with disabilities). Undesignated memorials will be donated to Christian schools.

Join family and friends for a casual potluck celebration of Bill Koser's life on Friday, August 25 from 5:00 until 8:00 PM at Anderson Park Pavilion in Barron with storytelling at 7:00 PM. (Come for a few minutes or a few hours.) We invite you to bring a lawn chair, a dish to pass, and/or a story to tell.

Formal memorial service will be on Saturday, August 26 at 11:00 AM at St. Matthew Church in Almena with visitation starting at 10:00 AM and lunch following.

Family will privately bury his ashes in the St. Matthew Cemetery.

Arrangements are being handled by Rausch and Steel Funeral Home in Barron.

Last Update: Aug 22, 2023 12:53 pm CDT

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