Bill passed away peacefully at his home in Escalon on March 31, 2019 at the age of 91. Bill was born on December 29, 1927 to Pete and Rofina Tillema in Modesto. Bill has been a resident of Escalon for the past 59 years.
Bill ran track for Modesto High on the relay team that broke the track record at the school. The team was on track for the Olympics but because of the war, the Olympic Games were cancelled that year. After High School, Bill enlisted in the US Navy and after coming home, met and married Gertrude Van Weerdhuizen. Together they owned a trucking business for 10 years, hauling grapes, peaches and hay. After, Bill owned a successful railroad salvage business, selling grain to local farmers among other goods. This jumpstarted his business, Farmers, Blacksmiths and Welding that later transitioned into Army Surplus. Bill’s greatest adventure was going to the auction at the Alaskan Pipeline after its completion. On his off time, Bill enjoyed hunting and fishing. His most memorable was a Caribou and Elk hunt in Iceland. He also loved his yearly vacation with his family to Bodega Bay every summer, where they fished from the dock and made memories they will never forget.
Bill leaves behind his wife of 68 years, Gertrude Tillema, his children, Wanda Veldstra (Albert), Steven Tillema (Sherry) and Sonja Van Ruler(Craig), his grandchildren, Dustin Veldstra, Ashley Hynes (Joe), Anthony Van Ruler and Kasie Van Ruler, his great granddaughter, Hayden Van Ruler and his brother, Peter Tillema. Bill is preceded in death by his son, Danny Tillema and his brothers, Dutch Tillema and John Tillema.
Deegan Chapel is honored to serve the Tillema family. A Celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, April 6th at 11AM at the Escalon Sportsman’s Club on River Road. Donations in Bill’s memory may be made to Escalon Ambulance. Also Bill’s family would like to send a very special Thank You to Bill’s caregiver, Doreen, for her loving and generous care she gave to Bill.
1480 Ullrey Ave, Escalon CA 95320