William Russell Lembke

May 26, 1923 ~ March 12, 2019 (age 95)

William Russell Lembke, 95, of Cass Lake passed away Tuesday, March 12, 2019. 

His funeral and celebration of his life will be held on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Cass Lake, with Pastor Amanda Kossow, as officiant.  The service will begin at 11am with a visitation one hour prior to the service, as well as visitation at the Olson Schwartz Funeral Home, Bemidji, on Monday, evening from 5-7pm.

Bill was born on May 26, 1923, the third son of Albert & Alma (Ferguson) Lembke of Walker.   His family lived on the shores of Swamp Lake, near Lembke Hill, and he spent his youth fishing and hunting, and helping his Dad farm.   He attended school at the Leech Lake Country School.  

He enlisted and was sworn into the US Navy on May 19, 1943 and served in World War II on the USS Ontario AT013.  He served 2 years of active duty on the ship, only seeing land once during that time.  At the conclusion of WWII, he returned to Swamp Lake and worked at the Box Factory in Cass Lake for a short time.   He was a member of the Cass Lake American Legion Jack Kimball Post 284 for 60 years.

On May 18, 1947 he married Norma Jones of Laporte and lived in the Wilkinson/Cass Lake area for 70 years, where they raised three sons & two daughters.  Bill first worked for the Great Northern Railroad K Line between Cass Lake and Walker and then Burlington Northern Railroad as a laborer, track inspector, and equipment operator, until his retirement in July 1983 after 37 years.  Norma passed away in October 2010.

Bill & Norma always raised a wonderful garden, complete with raspberry bushes, and Bill continued to grow a superb garden, personally canning his own produce at the age of 95, and was already planning his 2019 garden.  He enjoyed hunting in his younger years, and continued to love to fish and be out on a lake.   Bill enjoyed family gatherings with his kids, grandkids, great grandkids and his sister, including Camp Lembke held each July.  He enjoyed telling stories of the old-times, family meals and also liked to go for car rides - always on the lookout for wildlife.  He had a soft spot for animals, especially his dog, Snoopy and his cat, Goldie.

Bill is survived by two sons, Russell & Sharon Lembke, Leonard; Dale & Bonnie Lembke, Cass Lake; two daughters, Pamela Lembke, Rochester; and Sheila & Mark LaForce, Brooklyn Park; daughter-in-law, Sharon Lembke, Laporte; sister, Darlene & Wally George, Crystal; 12 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, along with nieces and nephews.

Bill was preceded in death by Norma; his parents; a son, Wendell Lembke; brothers, Kenneth Lembke, Fremont (Bud) Lembke & Fritz Lembke; sister, Phyllis Malbraaten.  

His grandsons will serve as pallbearers and his granddaughters will serve as honorary bearers. with burial to be held at Lakeport Cemetery in Laporte at a later time. 

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