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William ‘Bill’ N. Oliver -- Rochester

October 5, 2018 GMT

William “Bill” Newton Oliver died at home at 12:30 a.m. Sept. 30, 2018, after a courageous two-and-a-half-year battle with stage IV pancreatic cancer. At his initial diagnosis, he was given just two months to live but thanks to the love, support and prayers of his family and friends and with the exceptional care from his doctors and nurses at Mayo Clinic, he lived two-and-a-half-years after that diagnosis.

He was born in Beckley, W.V., on Jan. 8, 1941. He was the first-born child of Weda Altha (Phillips) Oliver of Mabscott, W.V., and William Andrew Oliver of Jefferson, N.C. He was baptized at Calvary Baptist Church in Mabscott, W.V.

Bill grew up in Beckley, W.V., where he excelled in school and sports. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley in 1958.

Bill honorably served in the U.S. Air Force from 1958 to 1962. During that time, he received computer training which became his vocation after he completed his service. Bill worked for Rochester Public Schools for 38 years in data processing. He enjoyed problem solving and the complexities of computer software and hardware and saw great technological advances during his career.


While attending special training at IBM in Rochester, Bill met the love of his life, Sharon Peterson. They were married on June 20, 1964. They raised a family in Rochester and traveled every summer back to West Virginia and North Carolina to visit Bill’s family. They had great adventures together traveling to Denmark, Germany, France, China, Italy, the United Kingdom and one of their most special places in the world, Hawaii, which they visited eight times together and once with their children to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Bill loved to golf and found great friendships with his golf buddies, some of whom have golfed with him since the 1970s. He has been a member of Willow Creek Golf Course for 44 years. He was proud to have three holes in one! In addition to golfing, Bill loved sports, including softball, basketball, bicycling, and he also enjoyed watching golf, football and any type of sport on TV. He was an avid reader especially of spy/thriller novels. He was always reading a book, even when he was watching TV or eating breakfast.

Small children loved Bill, as they could sense his kind and gentle spirit. He was given numerous nicknames from children, including “Button” and “Big-Guy.” Bill also had a way with animals and loved his miniature dachshunds who spent countless hours on his lap. Greta was particularly comforting to him during his illness.

Bill was extremely gifted at lawn care — his lush green lawn, which was also perfectly manicured was the envy of every neighbor. He could also build and fix almost anything — he built three miniature dollhouses along with miniature furniture.


Bill loved music, especially Elvis (who he shared a birthday with) and the Beatles. He loved playing “name that tune” on the radio because he usually won. His family and friends appreciated and will miss his rascally sense of humor.

Bill was a loving, attentive father, who enjoyed bicycling, playing catch, and playing cards and board games with his kids. As they matured, he supported their decisions and was proud of their accomplishments, most importantly, he told his children that he loved them every time he saw them.

Bill has been a member of Bethel Lutheran Church for more than 50 years, where he was surrounded by a community of people who loved him and Sharon.

Bill was preceded in death by an infant brother; his mother, Weda; his father, William; his brother, Philip; his mother-in-law, Lucille (Jensen) Peterson; and father-in-law, Neil Thomas Peterson.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Sharon of Rochester; his daughter, Jennifer Oliver of Plymouth; his son, William Oliver of Minneapolis; and his sisters, Nancy Tyree of Mt Holly, N.C., Glenna Johnson and Ella Saums of Florida. He is also survived by in-laws, Tom Peterson, Warren (Mary) Peterson, and Anne Cummins Peterson; and dearly loved nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.

The memorial service will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7, at Bethel Lutheran Church, 810 Third Ave. SE, Rochester, MN 55904, with the Rev. Anjanette Bandel officiating. The visitation will be from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. prior to the service at the church. The interment will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, in Union Cemetery, 5955 118th St. SE, Blooming Prairie, MN 55917, with military honors provided by the Blooming Prairie Honor Guard. Memorials are preferred to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

Arrangements are with Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes, 5421 Royal Place NW, Rochester, MN 55901. To share a special memory, please visit