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Willard Anthony “Bink” Bender
Willard Anthony “Bink” Bender

Willard Anthony "Bink" Bender died at home on April 16, 2019 in New Prague, MN at age 88. He was born Aug 23, 1930 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to Floriann J. (Hartz), a teacher, and Willard C. Bender, a banker. His sister called him Binky, and ever since, he has been known as Bink.

 As a child, Bink’s family moved often. He shared wonderful stories with his grandchildren about blackouts and submarine sightings in Boston during WWII, and his boyhood adventures in the mountains of upstate New York. Eventually the family settled in Monroe, Wisconsin where he went to high school and worked construction jobs in the summer. At the University of Wisconsin Madison, he met Joyce Pease. They began to date and bought season tickets to the Badger football games. Shortly after, they broke up. Fortunately, with adjoining reserved seats for the remainder of the football season, Bink and Joyce decided to try again as a couple. It stuck for 66 plus years. Bink wrote, “I am a very fortunate person because I have Joyce. I love her deeply . . . and her love for me fuels my entire day.” Bink married Joyce Jeanette Pease on Aug 11, 1953 in Monroe, Wisconsin.

One month later he was deployed by the army to serve in Japan during the Korean War. Later he moved back to Wisconsin and worked with the FDIC and the Commercial and Savings Bank in Monroe.

In 1964, Bink moved his family to the river town of New London WI where he enjoyed the challenge of helping establish the New London National Bank. For the past 39 years, he has lived in New Prague, MN retiring from the State Bank of New Prague in 1999.

 Every fall Bink made dill pickles in a big, wooden barrel using a recipe passed down from his grandfather. At Christmas, the Bender family delivered small bags of pickles to friends and neighbors. Although the pucker power of those pickles might not have been a favorite with neighbors, they were a treasured tradition at family meals.

Music was an integral part of Bink’s life. Never claiming to be a great musician, he nonetheless was a fervent participant. His mother, who played piano for silent movies, made family sing-alongs part of his growing up. Learning the trombone and baritone in high school, he also taught himself to play the banjo and ukulele, and started piano lessons in his 80’s. Most of all, Bink loved playing duets, singing along, or just listening as Joyce played piano and sang. Even with Joyce in the nursing home, she continued to play piano and they would sing together while he turned the pages.        

 In New London, Bink purchased his first boat and the whole family grew to love days boating on the Wolf River – and later the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. Bink also enjoyed old cars, bicycling, visiting friends, and road trips with the grandchildren. Almost every day he jogged, rollerbladed or walked a mile. He loved skiing in the winter and was an avid golfer who looked forward to weekly outings with friends in his golf group.

 Bink was dedicated to family, faith, and community. His service and community building were a fundamental part of who he was. Some of his many affiliations included the Catholic Church, Jaycees, Lions, March of Dimes, Boy Scouts, Knights of Columbus, Habitat for Humanity, Queen of Peace Hospital, Rotary, various city commissions, New Prague City Council and two terms as New Prague Mayor. Bink would say, with certainty, that he received far more than he gave.          

His family is proud of his contributions and holds tightly to the memories and legacy he leaves behind.

 Bink was preceded in death by two sisters, Jane Ann Bender, Karen Doll (Max), and brother Dan Bender (Micki). He is survived by wife Joyce, children, Lora Lambert, Rosemount MN, Michael (Donna) Bender, Fort Atkinson, WI, and Mary Bender, New Prague, MN. Bink was a devoted grandpa to Brooks (Angela) Lambert, Brady Lambert, Joelle Bender, Alyssa Tripi (Lewis), and Eric Bender. He was a new great-grandpa to Luke Michael Tripi and soon to be born, baby boy Lambert.

 The family has designated the Alzheimer’s Association or St. Wenceslaus Church for memorial contributions in lieu of flowers. Wake from 4-7 PM Monday, April 22 and 7:30-9:15 AM Tuesday, April 23 at Bruzek Funeral Home, New Prague. Mass of Christian Burial 10 AM Tuesday, April 23 at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in New Prague with eulogy in church at 9:45 AM. Burial will take place at St. Wenceslaus Cemetery, in New Prague. Military rites will be conducted by the New Prague Veterans Honor Guard.