William “Bill” Vernon Harrison, 72, of Pontiac, and formerly of Gilman, passed away Tuesday (May 7, 2019) surrounded by his family, at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington.
Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, May 10, at Knapp-Redenius Funeral Home, Gilman. And also from 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, until the 11 a.m. service at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Gilman. The Rev. Pete Hinrich will officiate. Burial will follow in Gilman Cemetery.
Bill was the older child of the late Wendell Vernon “Sweede” and Geraldine (McNabb) Harrison, and the older brother of the late Ronald Harrison. He was born Jan. 29, 1947, in Watseka, and married his high school sweetheart, Jean Manssen, on Sept. 3, 1966, in Danforth. They celebrated 52 years of marriage last September. In addition to his wife, Bill is survived by two children, Wade (Melinda) Harrison, of Homewood, Ala., and Wendy (Steve) Haase, of Lexington, Ill. He was known as “grandpa” to five grandchildren, whom he loved beyond measure, Wyatt and Graham Harrison, and Clayton, Reagan and Braden Haase. He also is survived by his brother-in-law and sisters-in-law, Keith (Jackie) Manssen, Myra Manssen and Linda Scering; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
All who knew Bill knew him as a gifted teacher and a beloved coach and sports enthusiast. After earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Illinois State University, Bill taught math at Gilman High School and Iroquois West High School, retiring in 2003 after a 33-year career of teaching and administration. Bill grew the mathematics program to include advanced mathematics and math contests in order to prepare Gilman-area high school students for college and career. Always one to enjoy working with students in the classroom, Bill also taught math part-time over the years at Kankakee Community College, retiring in 2009. After retirement, his teaching did not cease, as he soon had grandchildren to encourage in their academic pursuits. He was often notified promptly by his grandchildren of accomplishments in the classroom and on Math Team, and more than once, was summoned for help with difficult mathematics concepts by his grandchildren as well as nieces and nephews. Bill might have retired from teaching, but he never ceased being a teacher.
In addition to being a master teacher, Bill was also a model coach. During his long teaching career, he coached every sport that involved a ball, including his son’s baseball teams and his daughter’s volleyball teams. Retirement for Bill brought the opportunity to attend as many of his grandchildren’s athletic events as possible, and he never missed an opportunity to constructively critique and lovingly encourage the kids after a game, match or meet.
Bill was an avid reader, often in the middle of multiple books all at once. He enjoyed gardening, bowling, golf and watching the White Sox, a team loyalty passed down from his dad. He was an active member for many years in the Gilman Rotary and was of the Lutheran faith.
In addition to being sorely missed by his family, Bill’s passing will surely be sadly felt by the many extended family members, students, athletes and others whose lives were influenced by his generosity and warm guidance.
Memorials may be made to a scholarship for potential math teachers attending Kankakee Community College or to a cause of the donor’s choosing.
Please sign his online guestbook at knappfuneralhomes.com.