Louis William "Bill" Sherer

  • Born: February 19, 1942
  • Died: July 21, 2014
  • Location: Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln Land Cremation Society

917 S. 7th Street
Springfield, IL 62703

Tel. (217) 523-4646

Tribute & Message From The Family

Louis William "Bill" Sherer, an 11-year survivor of lung cancer, died on July 21, 2014 in Springfield, IL under the care of Memorial Home Services Hospice, following a battle with colon cancer. He was born February 19, 1942 in Alton, IL to Louis William Sherer, Sr. and Helen Sullivan Jenks Sherer. His last wife, Wanda Clark Sherer, preceded him in death in November 2000, only 11 months after they married on January 1, 2000.

Bill grew up in Wood River, IL, but had strong childhood ties to Springfield through his grandfather, Charles E. Sullivan and Uncle Loren Sullivan, influential figures in early-mid 20th century Springfield. Bill's lifelong passion for Native American traditions was inspired by his Alton BSA leader, The Reverend Eckford J. Dekay, who was later Dean of Springfield's St. Paul's Cathedral, where Bill had been baptized, and who blessed his 1978 marriage.

After graduating from East Alton-Wood River High School in 1960, Bill attended Milliken University where he pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon; he graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1965. He served in the US Air Force from 1966-68 as a photographer stationed at McChord AFB Tacoma, WA.

He then attended graduate school at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and was an assistant curator at the SIUC University Museum. From 1974 until 1976, he managed historic sites for St. Louis County, MO, organizing Civil War re-enactments at Jefferson Barracks and encouraging volunteerism. He was the site superintendent at Lincoln's New Salem State Park (now State Historic Site) from 1976-1979, where he expanded the volunteer program, often worked as the site blacksmith, mentored new history professionals, and consulted on tv mini-series and documentaries.

Deciding to make history his hobby rather than his profession, he spent over a decade in industrial sales, primarily at Simplex, Inc. where he was a customer service/field sales representative and eventually manager of inside sales. Bill's outgoing personality, love of a good story, and disdain of solitude made him a natural to deal with people. He could sell ice to Eskimos.

History's lure was too strong, and he spent nearly 16 years as a site interpreter at the Old State Capitol, retiring in 2012 due to health. Throughout his career he had a knack for explaining history in understandable terms, and making history come to life in teachable moments. He prided himself on being able to greet international visitors in more than 15 languages.

The French and Indian War was his preferred historic era. He was a founding member of the Sainte Anne Parish Militia Reactivated at Fort de Chartres in southern Illinois, where his portrayal of an Indian Trader/guide was a fixture for 39 consecutive annual spring rendezvous until his health began to fail. An avid re-enactor, for decades he attended events at Old Fort Niagara, NY; forts Vincennes and Ouiatenon, IN and forts Massac and Creve Coeur, IL. He was a man born two centuries after his time.

He was formerly active in St. Paul's Lodge No. 500, AF&AM; Valley of Springfield AASR; and Springfield Ansar Shrine Legion of Honor. He previously attended Cathedral Church of St. Paul and Christ Episcopal Church.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Wanda Sherer; brother and sister-in-law, Charles and Charmaine Jenks of Dublin, OH; sister, Elizabeth Jenks Burrus-Meece and her spouse, Russell Meece; beloved brother-in-law, Roy Burrus, all of Roodhouse; and his four greyhound companions. He is survived by his daughters from prior marriages, Margaret Sherer of St. Louis, MO and Jennifer Sherer O'Laughlin of Columbia, MO; grandson, Seth O'Laughlin of Evansville, IN; a niece and three nephews; and several great-nieces and great-nephews.

Cremation rites have been accorded by Lincoln Land Cremation Society. Inurnment will be at Camp Butler National Cemetery. Services will be private.

Memorial contributions are suggested to: American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718.