William Eugene Brehmer, 84, passed away peacefully Sunday, May 5, at St. Mark’s Memory Care in Austin, Minnesota with family by his side.
Bill was born in Litchfield, Minnesota to W. Eugene and Margaret (Buchanan) Brehmer February 23, 1935. His family moved to St. James, Minnesota where he received his education. Bill excelled in athletics including football, baseball, wrestling, and track. He graduated with the St. James Senior High School Class of 1953. He married his high school sweetheart, and love of his life, Marilyn Dorothy Evans, July 25, 1953. They celebrated 66 years of marriage this past July.
Bill had a natural talent and love for cooking inherited from the Brehmer side of the family, and his work centered around his skill and love for providing good food to the public. He worked as a plumber while living in Fairmont, Minnesota. Deciding plumbing wasn’t for him he got a job as a delivery driver for American Bakeries selling and delivering Taystee Bread products throughout the Blue Earth, Minnesota area. He and Marilyn bought “Dukes Place” located on the east end of Long Lake near St. James in 1963 from Duke and Irene Randall. This was the beginning of his career as a chef. “Dukes Place” was an icon for the surrounding area with its dining area, dance hall, swimming beach, and four primitive but charming seasonal rental cabins. Although it was a lot of hard work, there was also a lot of “hard” play. There were always plenty of skiing, boating, swimming, and fishing opportunities! “Dukes Place” has always been, and always will be, our family’s favorite of all the places we’ve lived. Bill was known for his fried chicken, ribs, steaks, and prime rib. People would come from miles around to dine, dance, and drink. They owned and operated “Dukes Place” for seven years.
Bill was also a chef at the Driftwood Supper Club in Windom, Minnesota and the Orchid Inn in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. He and Marilyn managed the Easton American Legion in Easton, Minnesota for several years until Bill was hired as the chef for the Austin Country Club, and they moved to Rose Creek, Minnesota and later to Austin, Minnesota. During the planning stages of opening “Tolly’s Time Out” in Austin, Dave and Peg Tollefson contacted Bill, and the rest is history! They opened “Tolly’s” in 1984. Bill continued his chef’s career creating delicious soups from his “secret” recipes, which he became well known for, along with many other delicious specialties with the same skill and love for providing people with good food until his retirement on February 23,2000.
He loved to hunt and fish, and was very connected to nature He shared that love with family and friends. There were family vacations over the years to the Black Hills, Canada, Duluth, and many others involving lakes and fishing. What most people remember about Bill was his sense of humor, and his love for sharing food and drink. His nick name “Wild Bill” was well earned!
During his retirement he re-fostered his love of art, and he and Marilyn both began hobbies creating many beautiful woodcarvings that their children and grandchildren cherish to this day. They belonged to the Austin Woodcarver’s Club for many years.
Bill and Marilyn raised five children. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; and three daughters and two sons and their spouse/partners: Rhonda Ostberg (Douglas Raiche) Rochester, Minnesota and grandchildren Derrick Ostberg and Melissa Ostberg Kono (Evan Kono); Barbara Korte St. James, Minnesota and grandchildren Rick Esser, Macie Korte ,Tanner Korte, Brandon Korte (Teaira), Logan Korte (Megan Koenig); Susan Jacobsen (Dennis) Alden, Minnesota and grandchildren Shain Becker (Stacie), Brandy Becker (Jason Schaefer), Krystle Foley (Mitch Turnbull), Chance Foley (Trina); William Brehmer Jr. (Sabrina) Castle Rock, Colorado and grandchildren Misty (Emanuel Ardeleanu), Aimee Walsh (Darren), Lindsay and William Jr.; Steven Brehmer (Debbie) Austin,MN and grandchildren Drake (Kourtnee Wessels), and Stephany; and twenty-seven great grandchildren.
He is also survived by his sister, Karen Swanson (Bob) Robertsdale, Alabama; sister-in-law Mae (Morgan) Brehmer Litchfield, Minnesota; two sisters –in-law, Jane (Evans) Romsdahl Littleton, Colorado and Nancy (Evans) Olson and brother-in-law David Olson Minneapolis, MN and was preceded in death by his parents, a brother in infancy, brother, Warren (Bud), as well as sisters Patricia Wick, Joyce Johnson, Gayle Christensen, Betty Hendrickson, brothers-in-law Lenny Wick, Jerry Johnson, Herald Christensen, Bob Hendrickson, and Richard (Dick) Romsdahl, an Uncle Wesley Brehmer, a nephew Joseph Romsdahl, and grandson Jason Becker.
There will be a Celebration of Life Open House for Bill Sunday, May 26th from 1:00 to 3:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church Social Hall in St. James, Minnesota. Join us in sharing our favorite memories, and celebrating his life.