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Big Ten Champ Bill Willetts


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Former  IU Big Ten Champ Bill Willetts passed away at his residence this past week.  Bill had not been in good health for several years and was unable to work due to complications of diabetes and to the deterioration of his hip joints. Apparently heart failure was the cause of death.  Bill battled Diabetes for many years that required hospitalization at times.  He was in great pain and was taking medication for both conditions.  He lived by himself in the Crystal Lakes area...outside Chicago.  Bill was trying to get an operation for his hips but had no health insurance.

 

Bill was from Indianapolis, IN.  He wrestled at Arlington High School where he was a state champ on a record setting team coached by the legendary Jim Ellis.  Bill was a Big Ten Champion in 1971 and was runner-up to Tom Milkovich from Mich. State in 1972.  Bill was head coach for a time at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.  He worked in school transportation in the suburbs of Chicago and was a past winner of the the National Transportation Director of the Year Award. 

 

Bill Willetts was a great friend of many and was a very good student of the sport and spent many months and years studying under our late great coach Doug Blubaugh. 

 

Visitation and services for Bill:  Saturday 6-22-2013, 11 am to 1:00pm @ Davenport Funeral Home, Crystal Lake, Illinois....address: 419 E. Terra Cotta Ave. Crystal Lake, Ill.    Funeral Home phone:  815 459 3411. Davenport Funeral Home:  www.davenportfamily.com

 

 

 

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Bill was an incredible coach and even better person.  He had a huge influence on the way I look at and understand wrestling.  I was able to walk on to a division 1 team because of the technique I learned from him and was disappointed to find my college coach knew very little compared to Bill.  I still consider him the best wrestler I have ever had the privilege of wrestling with even though it was only in practice.  Any list of all time greats on this board that doesn't include him is ignorant of how good he was.

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I had the pleasure of having coach Willetts as my coach my freshman year in high school. I wish I would have had him there the next 3 years. He was terrific in the practice room. Taught me how to push myself more than I ever would have before and it has stayed with me my whole life. Haven't seen him in over 20 years but remember those brutal practices like they were yesterday. Very sad to see he passed. You will be missed coach.

 

Alonzo Shepherd

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