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Local News

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet dentist valued faith and family

Joliet dentist valued faith, family

William Limacher of Joliet
William Limacher of Joliet

JOLIET – Jim Limacher of Ottawa said he wasn’t quite 5 when he and his family attended a weekend church fun fair.

After spending all his money Saturday, Jim approached his father, William “Bill” Limacher, for more money. Bill gave it to Jim – and made him sign an I.O.U.

“He wasn’t tight about not spending any money,” said Jim, who worked at the First National Bank of Joliet for 40 years, “but he did teach us fiscal responsibility.”

Bill Limacher of Joliet was moderate in all things, said his daughter Susie Parrett of Champaign – except golf and prayer.

“Every night he was on his knees at the end of his bed saying his prayers,” Susie said. Bill also said many rosaries and attended daily Mass.

Only Bill’s faith and loved ones came before golf. Bill taught everyone in his family to play the game, from his wife, Billie, all the way down to his great-grandchildren.

Bob Stephen of Joliet, Bill’s second cousin, said Bill possessed “one of the sweetest swings of the game.” Bill golfed twice a week at the Joliet Country Club. Although Bob said he never could compete with Bill, he always learned something new about golf just from being on the course with him.

The same was true even during conversation.

“Bill loved to discuss politics, sports and anything meaningful,” Bob said. “I would classify him as a legend – very smart, a one-way thinker and one of the kindest men I ever met.”

Billie said she met Bill on a blind date in 1940. When she was modeling in Chicago, Billie said one of her friends suggested she come to Joliet and meet a dentist she knew. Billie recalled saying, “He’s probably a jerk.”

Then Billie met him.

“He was gorgeous,” Billie said. “The next day I sent my mother a picture postcard of Louis Joliet in the library grass and said, ‘I met Bill and I’m going to marry him.’ ”

Billie did, four years later. She and Bill were married nearly 70 years when he died Jan. 4 at age 98.

She said all four of their children did volunteer work because of Bill’s example.

“Not one priest or nun ever paid a dental bill. He took care of all the bishops, too,” she said.

A dentist following in his father’s profession, Billie said her husband was the valedictorian of every school he ever attended: St. Raymond Catholic School, De La Salle High School – despite a bout with scarlet fever – and Loyola dental school, where Bill also received the Blue Key Award for Academic Excellence.

But Billie’s admiration for Bill worked two ways. Their daughter, Terry Dell of Wheaton, said her father never entered or left a room without kissing Billie. Bill knew – and played – just one song on the banjo (“That’s Where My Money Goes”), but he loved to sing, Terry said, and greeted each day with a song.

“He sang to his patients while he worked on them,” Terry said, “and then patted them on the cheek when he said, ‘Goodbye.’ ”

Many people did not know Bill was in pain most of his life due to a slipped disc in his neck, said his son Pat Limacher of Winnetka, pain that practicing dentistry must have exacerbated.

Bill never complained; indeed, Bill was known for his dry sense of humor.

Pat, who has osteoarthritis, recalled one day when he and Bill drove out to a golf course. Both of them struggled to leave the car and uttered a few “Ooohs” and “Ows!” as they did so.

“Then he looked at me and said, ‘You know, with your genes, you’re going to live a long life,’ ” Pat said, “ ‘and be in pain for most of it.’ And he smiled with that damn dry sense of humor.”

• To feature someone in “An Extraordinary Life,” contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-280-4122 or

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