William Donald Behling, Roscoe, IL/formerly Beloit, WI (1928 - 2013)
April 10, 1928 - January 30, 2013
Newspaperman, Bill Behling, who cherished his memories of a wonderful life, died Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, at age 84, with his loving wife, Betty, by his side. Mr. Behling’s association with the Beloit Daily News began in 1945, and continued until his death, interrupted only by his six year service as publisher-editor of a sister newspaper, The Rhinelander Daily News. He retired as Beloit Daily News publisher-editor in 1994, but continued writing for the paper as its editor emeritus.
William Donald Behling was born April 10, 1928, to Herman F. and Hazel (Walters) Behling in the family home on Townline Road, north of Beloit. He married Gloria June Austin, his high school sweetheart, on June 7, 1947. She died on Father’s Day in 2000. On May 3, 2003, he married Barbara “Bunny” (Allard) Finnegan. She predeceased him on Dec. 23, 2005. On Nov. 3, 2012, he married Betty (Nelson) Whitney.
A 1946 graduate of Beloit High School, Bill was editor of the school newspaper, The Increscent, and Cadet Commander of the school’s ROTC battalion. After transferring from the job printing department to the editorial staff of the Daily News in 1946, he worked as a reporter-photographer, telegraph editor, state and farm editor, special publications editor and executive editor. In 1973, Bill was chosen to be publisher-editor of the Rhinelander Daily News. He returned to Beloit. as Daily News publisher-editor in 1979.
Mr. Behling’s professional associations included service as president of the Wisconsin’s Associated Press Association, a board member of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, and an adviser to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Department of Journalism. In 2008, he was inducted into the Wisconsin Newspaper Association’s Hall of Fame. In 2000, he was a recipient of the Dion W. Henderson Award, given by the Wisconsin Associated Press Editors Association. Other accolades included Beloit and Rhinelander Ambassador of the Year awards, the Arthur B. Adams Beloit Booster award, and the Stateline Community Trust “Bridge to the Future” award.
Over the years, Bill’s newspaper career was accompanied by involvement in numerous civic, educational, fraternal, social and service club activities. He was past president of the Chamber of Commerce-Greater Beloit, the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, the Country Club of Beloit, the Rotary Club of Rhinelander, the Wisconsin Associated Press Association, and was the first president of the School District of Beloit Turner Board of Education.
Memberships have included the boards of the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corp.(BEDCOR), the Beloit Red Cross Chapter, the Rock County Historical Society, the Beloit Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary Clubs, and the Beloit and Rhinelander Ambassadors Clubs, of which he was past president. He was a co-founder of the United Way organization serving the greater Rhinelander area. For several years prior to moving to Rhinelander to manage the newspaper there, Behling served as chairman of the Town of Rock Board of Supervisors.
Since his formal retirement as Publisher and Editor of the Beloit Daily News, Mr. Behling continued his association with the paper, as Editor Emeritus. He wrote occasional columns, editorials and news articles. His daily column, “On This Date…” appeared weekdays on the paper’s editorial page. It was a gleaning of local news items from 100, 50, 25 and 10 years ago.
While a favorite work/recreation was writing newspaper columns on a variety of personal, topical and human interest subjects, Bill also enjoyed golfing, gardening and traveling. He greatly enjoyed the game of cribbage (including 2 perfect hands) and was an avid photographer, an interest that began in the years when he was a reporter-photographer for the Daily News. Bill was a member of the United Lutheran Church in Rockford, IL.
Bill Behling was preceded in death by his parents; his wives, Gloria and Bunny; a special aunt, Minnie Behling; daughter-in-law, Connie M. (Norder) Behling; and step son, Thomas Finnegan.
His immediate survivors include his wife, Betty (Whitney) Behling; sons, Donald (Marie) of Beloit, and David (Charlene) of Janesville; daughter, Diane (Butch) Sowinski of Rhinelander, WI; step children: Matt (Dianne) Finnegan, Mary Terese (Greg) Finnegan-Huffman, Anne (John) Bauman, Laura (Tim) Hauser, Michael Finnegan, Barbara Nelson, Michael Whitney, and Kathy (Gary) Johnson; grandsons: Bill, Troy and Brian (Bridgette) Behling and Craig (Alyssa) McKeever; granddaughters: Bobbie Lynn (Don) Dettor, Nicole Sowinski and Kim McKeever; 8 step grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; two brothers, Allan (Cathy) and Warren (Nancy) Behling; one sister, Elizabeth (Francis) Wagner; and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, at the DALEY MURPHY WISCH & ASSOCIATES FUNERAL HOME AND CREMATORIUM, 2355 Cranston Road, Beloit, WI, with Reverend Krista Zimmerman and Reverend Warren Behling co-officiating. Burial will be in Mt. Thabor Cemetery. Visitation will be Saturday from 4 until 8 p.m. at the FUNERAL HOME. Visitation will also be Sunday from 12 p.m. until the time of service at the FUNERAL HOME.
It was Bill’s wish that in lieu of other expressions of sympathy, memorial gifts be made to United Lutheran Church, 3630 N. Rockton Ave., Rockford, IL 61103, Beloit Regional Hospice, Caritas, the American Heart Association, or a charity of the giver’s choice.