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William John Voller

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Posted By Hitzeman Funeral Home On November 17, 2014 @ 12:46 pm In Obituary | No Comments


Army retired Lt. Col. William John Voller, 96, succumbed to stage IV bone cancer and prostate cancer on November 16, 2014 while residing at Plymouth Place, a senior living facility in LaGrange Park, Illinois. Prior to living in LaGrange Park, Mr. Voller resided in North Riverside, Illinois for more than 60 years.

Born on November 30, 1917, Mr. Voller grew up in Cicero, Illinois as the second youngest of eight siblings: James, Barbara, Marie, Charles, Joseph, Lillian, and George. On account of his large family, Mr. Voller became an uncle to more than ten nieces and nephews.

Mr. Voller graduated from the Wilson Elementary School in Cicero in 1932 and the J. Sterling Morton High School in Cicero in 1936. Prior to the untimely passing of his father, Mr. Voller attended the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois for approximately one semester before he was called home to help support his family. In 1941, Mr. Voller earned a certificate from the Engineering, Science, and Management War Training Program at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

After learning military skills necessary for the war effort at IIT, Mr. Voller enlisted in United States Army in 1941 at the age of 23. Following officer candidate school, Mr. Voller earned the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1942, First Lieutenant in 1942, Captain in 1943, and Major in 1945. He resigned from active military service in 1946, but remained in the Army Reserve until November 26, 1977, when he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

For extraordinary acts of courage during World War II, including the D-Day invasion, French President Sarkozy appointed Mr. Voller to the rank of Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d’honneur on July 27, 2011. A decorated veteran, Mr. Voller also received the Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and the Silver Star Medal—the third-highest military combat decoration and one that is awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for valor and gallantry in action—from the United States, and the Croix de Guerre decoration from the French Republic.

Mr. Voller earned many of his military medals and decorations in 1944. At the time, Mr. Voller served as a Captain in the 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. On July 21, 1944, Capt. Voller was leading his company on an attack of Gourbesville, France, when they came under heavy enemy fire from a German army that was heavily entrenched on a hill controlling the town. Capt. Voller led a tank forward to overrun the enemy position until the tank was knocked out of action by German antitank guns. Next, Capt. Voller organized a flanking force and led it across a 200-yard exposed area to the German’s right flank. Although Capt. Voller sustained a gunshot wound to his head during the process, he refused to leave the field of action and continued to maneuver his men while advancing on the German position. Finally reaching the German flank, Capt. Voller was wounded again, this time in the leg. While encouraging his men forward, a German sniper shot him a third time and wounded him in the back. Only then did Capt. Voller permit others to evacuate him from the battlefield.

Mr. Voller’s acts of bravery were recorded in “Eight Stars to Victory,” a book written by Joseph B. Mittelman and first published in 1948. More recently, The History Channel featured Mr. Voller in its 2009 production entitled “Patton 360°,” a television documentary series that interviewed men who served with General Patton during World War II. As described in “Blood and Guts,” the first episode of the documentary, Mr. Voller served with General Patton while Patton’s troops pursued Rommel, the German Field Marshal, out of North Africa.

After the war, Mr. Voller procured a job at Templeton Kenly and Company in Chicago. The company later moved to Broadview, Illinois, and Mr. Voller started on the shop floor before climbing the corporate ranks and ending his career in 1978 as Vice President and General Manager of Commander Manufacturing Company, a subsidiary of Templeton Kenly and Company.

Mr. Voller’s interests included the Boy Scouts of America. He was a volunteer leader of Troop 62 in North Riverside for several years, and was active in the West Suburban Council in La Grange, Illinois as a Regional and District Commissioner and Council Treasurer. For his years of dedication, the West Suburban Council honored Mr. Voller in 1983 with the Silver Beaver Award, a decoration awarded to adults who provided significant service to the council.

Mr. Voller was also active in the Civil Defense Program in the Village of North Riverside during the 1950s and 1960s. Mr. Voller attended and observed the civil defense activities in North Riverside grammar schools during that time.

Mr. Voller married Mildred Vicenik on July 3, 1948. William and Mildred had two children: William J. Voller, Jr. and Elizabeth Ann Voller. Mildred Voller passed in 2003 at the age of 82 and after 55 years of marriage. Elizabeth Ann Voller passed in 1984 at the age of 27.

Mr. Voller is survived by his son, William (Corilee Zaba); two grandchildren: William Joshua Voller III (Dr. Stephannie Baehl) and Bradley Walter Voller (Ashley Lalonde); and five great-grandchildren: Reece Bradley Voller, Owen Stephen Voller, William Joshua Voller IV, Pierce Lachlan Voller, and Elizabeth Lillian Voller.

Visitation Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3 P.M. to 8 P. M. and Thursday, November 20, 2014, 9 A.M. to 9:30 A.M. at Hitzeman Funeral Home Ltd. 9445 West 31st Street, Brookfield, Funeral Thursday 9:30 A.M. to Mater Christi Church, North Riverside, Mass 10 A.M. Interment Resurrection Cemetery. Information 708-485-2000 or www.HitzemanFuneral.com

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