William “Bill” Zerr, of Madison, and formerly of Mobridge, died Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, at Bethel Lutheran Home in Madison after a long battle with illness. A celebration of life will be held in the spring with burial in the family plot at Greenwood Cemetery.
He was born in Mobridge on Dec. 13, 1962, to Pius “Punchy” and Junne Zerr, the youngest of seven children. Family meant everything to Bill, and he was the heart of the Zerr clan. He was devoted to his mother and helped care for his dad after the disease that would later strike Bill in his life, had taken hold of his dad. Sundays and holiday meals with his family were important events and one that Bill looked forward to with great anticipation. He learned the love of cooking from his mom, and could always be found in the kitchen, helping to prepare meals for the ever growing Zerr family.
His love for music and great voice led him to take up the bass guitar and join several friends playing in bands. They played at local establishments, something Bill greatly enjoyed. Music was big part of the Zerr household, and his mom was proud that Bill worked hard to improve and loved hearing him sing with his friends and family.
But it was love of baseball that connected the Zerr family. They spent summer nights at Legion Memorial Field, watching the boys or the Lakers play ball. One of the greatest events of Bill’s life was playing an important role in Mobridge’s American Legion Post 4 team’s State B championship in 1981.
Bill loved the game he grew up with and played different positions throughout his youth, including catcher. But it was his surprise role as a pitcher in the drive to the championship, of which he was most proud.
Even legendary baseball expert Pat Morrison was shocked at Bill’s new-found pitching talents, asking during a broadcast of the games where the hell this talent had been during the season.
His love for baseball was passed on the males in his family and when he became a Kansas City Royals fan, it was a strong bond between the men. When his team won the World Series in 2015, Bill was ecstatic and shared his joy with his family.
Early in his life, Bill decided he was going to be a success in business and in his early teens began working for and learning the ropes from the Knott brothers at the Jack and Jill store.
He worked there throughout his high school days and honed his people skills. As one friend of the family said, Bill knew how to make people feel important and really listened when they spoke. It was a trait that followed him throughout his life and made Bill many friends.
He met his future wife, Deanna, as a young man in Mobridge and was quickly smitten with her. Their friendship grew through the years and they soon discovered they were meant to be.
After they were married in July of 1984, Bill became a stepdad to De’s sons, Matt and Pat, during their formative years. The family lived in Mobridge where Bill worked at MDU as a salesman and De was an insurance agent for American Family.
When an opportunity for De arose with American Family in Madison, Wis., Bill left his hometown and family for a new life in that community. They lived in Madison until 1990 when another opportunity with American Family took them to Kansas City. There he found a life and friends he dearly loved. He was like a Pied Piper to people and his family and friends loved spending time with Bill and De at their Kansas City home.
In 2004 Bill was diagnosed with familial amyloidosis, the disease that had taken the life of his father. Through the next 15 years, he lost his physical abilities, but never his enthusiasm for life and family. In 2015, De and Bill moved to Madison, S.D., where his family could help in his care.
Though the disease took his ability to walk, it didn’t slow him down as he could be seen on the streets of Madison, tooling around on his power scooter, Royals flag flying high, as he made his way to McDonalds for coffee and baseball talk with the boys or to rehab where he worked hard to keep up his strength.
In 2019, Bill took a fall from his scooter and sustained injuries that required special care. He moved into the Bethel center, where he received the care he needed. He died in his sleep, Sunday, Dec. 1, at that facility.
Bill is survived by his wife of 34 years, Deanna; sons Matt (Sharon) Bezenek of Madison, and Pat (Raema) Bezenek, of Mesa, Ariz.; brothers, James (Bunny) Zerr of Pierre, and Kevin (Jackie) Zerr of Helena, Mont.; and sisters Pam Zerr of Lewistown, Mont., Paula (LaVerne) Kosters of Mobridge, and Catherine "Katie" Zerr, also of Mobridge; five grandsons, Austin, Joey, Lakin, Landon and Skyler; two granddaughters, Kennedy and Sydney; and one great-grandson, Cohen.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Punchy and Junne; his eldest brother, Patrick; and niece, Danae Zerr.
A celebration of life will be held in the spring with burial in the family plot at Greenwood Cemetery.
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