William “Bill” Eastman

September 13, 1932
September 12, 2020

“Some Glad Morning…” turned out to be some glad afternoon when William Henry Eastman flew “away to a home on God’s celestial shore” September 12, 2020 – just one day short of his 88th birthday. 


You have to believe God knew what he was up to when he gave baby Billy to the late Henry L. Eastman and Angeline C. (Klika) Eastman on September 13, 1932, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Being born at the end of the great depression shaped Bill’s formative years and resulted in his being a frugal, if not miserly, father in his own right. Being born into a family with three sisters and two live-in aunties similarly prepared Bill to be a father to four daughters of his own – as well as two sons.


But first, young Bill made his mark on the football field at City Stadium playing for the Red Devils of Green Bay East High School. He was a so-so student, but a hard-nosed football player. It was on that field where Bill caught the eye of an older woman who was two years ahead of him at nearby St. Joseph’s Academy for Girls. Her name was Doris Jean Butrymowicz and she was a beauty, by all accounts, in that navy blue skirt and cardigan sweater. They were star-crossed lovers, though. Doris was a good Roman Catholic girl from the very Catholic and very Polish St Mary of the Angels Church and Bill came from the other side of the religious tracks as a Pentecostal Evangelical. “He was a rough and tumble football player, a smooth trumpet player, and a very smart dresser,” recalls Doris. “Lots of girls had their eyes on Bill Eastman!”


But it was Doris Jean who caught him. And on June 13, 1953, they made it official and were married at St Mary’s church. At that same time, Bill was in the middle of pursuing his Business Degree at St Norbert College – where he was, again, a hard-nosed football player and a so-so student. Because they were beautiful and smart dressing, it wasn’t long before Doris was pregnant with their first child, Debra. And by the time Doris was pregnant with their second, Bill had finished college, took a commission in the U.S. Army, and was packing his footlocker for the conflict in Korea.


Time has a way of inflating some stories. War stories in particular. To hear him tell it, Bill was a fearless leader who earned the respect of all his enlisted men. He challenged his chain-of-command (including Eisenhower’s son) to always do the right thing. And he was run over by an enemy tank in the Demilitarized Zone. There are no photos that support any of Bill’s stories. Just a lot of photos of him posing in his government-issued Jockies™. Nonetheless, Bill was very proud of his military service and wore his Korean War Veteran hat everywhere he went (mostly because of the free lunches, we suspect).


After his stint in the Army, Bill took a job selling Prudential Life and Health Insurance door-to-door in the Olde Norwood neighborhood of Green Bay. He worked hard to provide for his growing family. After Debra (who eventually married Harvey Paulsen and they had three boys), Bill and Doris added Jean (Mike Fuller; a boy and a girl), Mitch (the former Barb Weber; three boys), Vicki (Mark Shefchik; two girls), Lori (Calvin Piton; a boy and a girl) and Scott (the former Katie Karcz; a girl and a boy as well as a girl and a boy from a previous marriage) over the next 13 years. It was important to Bill that Doris didn’t have to work, so while he worked hard, he also pinched every penny he could. Lots of belts were tightened and food budgets stretched. His frugality typically meant one double scoop of Dehn’s ice cream for him and one single scoop of ice cream for the six kids to share. It meant one giant, juicy, broiled Biebel’s t-bone steak for him and the trimmed fat for the six kids. It meant one giant frosty mug of A&W Drive-in root beer for him and six tiny free mugs of root beer for the kids. 


But it also meant frequent road trips out to see family in California and the other great sights around the U.S. Always in a late-model wagon with room for the littles to sit in the way, way back and the littlest to sleep across the hump in the back seat. Family was always a top priority for Bill. His family was always healthily-fed, well-dressed, comfortably-housed, and above all: brought up to know the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bill and Doris sent their kids to Catholic Grade School, Doris took the kids to weekly Mass and Bill also took the kids to weekly Sunday school. Their children were saturated with church. And to this day each of them profess and prove to live a life committed to Jesus, his promise, his hope, and his love.


You see, Bill did so much he was proud of in his life. And rightfully so. He coached countless boys in football for St Mary of the Angels and the Allouez Buccaneers. It was with the Buccaneers that Bill established a reputation for coaching dominant football teams. Together with his friend John Hammer and, even more so, with his son Mitch, Bill built the still-running tradition of excellence in Allouez. There were also dozens of girls who learned to love and excel at softball under Bill’s coaching. For more than 30 years he was a faithful deacon at Central Assembly of God and for 15 years he served as the church’s song leader. Because of shrewd investing and frugal living (see the ice cream, above), Bill was able to retire early and took a job managing the pro shop at the former Woodside Golf Club (now The Woods). He was so proud of all these accomplishments. But nothing made him prouder than you asked him about the faith of his kids, grandkids (16), and great-grandkids (22). Bill always felt his obligation as a husband and father was to disciple his own family. In the end, his achievement in this area meant more to him than sales awards (he won plenty), football and softball games (he won plenty), or any round of golf (again, just so-so).


There isn’t enough newsprint in the world or byte space on the world wide web to cover all that William Henry Eastman had accomplished in his nearly 88 years on this mortal coil. But he’d downplay anything that didn’t point you to the grace and love of Jesus. It was all that truly mattered to Bill.


Besides his mom and dad, Bill was preceded in death by his sisters Betty and June. His beloved wife, Doris, their children, and their spouses are already missing Bill immensely. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren are blessed to have so many fond and funny memories of their “Poppy.” Bill Eastman definitely and clearly left the world a better place than where he found it.


There’ll be a private memorial service held at the former Central Assembly of God (né Full Gospel Tabernacle) on Sunday, September 27th before Bill’s earthly remains will be interred at the Allouez Chapel Mausoleum.


In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted for a memorial bench to be installed at the Allouez Buccaneer field. To donate, please send to the estate’s executor, Mitch Eastman, PO Box 543, Green Bay, WI 54305 or visit www.BillsBench.com to contribute via GoFundMe.