Frank Raymond Koller was born July 28, 1921, in Chicago to Frank Koller and Rose Koller (Reiger). He died May 15, 2011, in Marshfield after a brief illness.
He is survived by his wife, Betty Jane (Leasure) Koller; nieces Lenore (Smith) Dollries, Cynthia Burns, Barbara (Burns) Weingarden; and grand-niece Alison Weingarden.
Frank and Betty had one son, Frank Berkley Koller, who passed Nov. 6, 1978. Frank also survived by two sisters, Rose Smith and Rae Meyer.
Frank and Betty met in grade school in Chicago and both graduated from Hirsh High School in 1941.
Frank joined the Navy on Sept. 19, 1942. Betty followed him to California where they eloped on Aug. 21, 1943, before he set off for the South Pacific. Frank was a radio operator during the war and was honorably discharged in 1945.
After his discharge, Frank worked with Betty's family on the cranberry marshes in the Rapids where he got his interest in the cranberry business. In 1946, the Kollers moved up to Manitowish Waters to start their own cranberry business.
Of the five original growers in the area, Frank was the last survivor. In addition to the Manitowish Waters marsh, Frank had two other marshes at one time -- Fifield and Oneida.
Frank joined the Masons in 1955 and was ordained to the 33rd degree in 2010. Frank was also a Shriner and Lions Club member.
Frank was a charter member of the Manitowish Waters Community Church and the local fire department.
Frank was an avid car and antique collector and took great joy in giving tours of his collections. He also exhibited his cars in local parades.
He was an avid wildlife enthusiast from planting trees and feeding birds to taking in stray dogs.
Frank and Betty's philanthropy have been far reaching, including the building and maintenance of the Manitowish Waters Community Church Carillon and Tower and the Veteran's Memorial in Pine Lawn Cemetery and wholly providing for the Frank B. Koller Memorial Library in Manitowish Waters.
They started the Koller Behavior Center in Minocqua, and started scholarships at the University of Wisconsin for Cranberry Growing and Lakeland and Mercer high schools for vocational schools.
They purchased the land for the Manitowish Waters Town Park on Rest Lake and are supporters of the Masonic Learning Center for Dyslexia, the Rawhide Ranch and the Marshfield Clinic, Lawton Center and Laird Center. Their latest endeavor is a deferred donation to the Marshfield Clinic to complete the second Laird Center for research. When Frank saw a need, he pursued supporting that need.
Funeral services will be Saturday, May 21, 11 a.m., in the Manitowish Waters Community Presbyterian Church.
Visitation will be 9-11 a.m. at the church on Saturday.
Burial will follow at Pinelawn Cemetery with military honors.
A Masonic service will be held today, Friday, May 20, 6:30 p.m., at the Bolger Funeral Home-Woodruff Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Frank B. Koller Library in Manitowish Waters or charity of the donor's choice.
Bolger Funeral Home is assisting the family. Condolences may be shared at www.bolgerfuneral.com.
via The Lakeland Times