Serving West Michigan Since 1899

William Oberholtzer

November 5, 1931 - January 21, 2008
Douglas, MI



Friday, January 25, 2008
12:30 PM EST
Community Church of Douglas
6780 Wiley Road
Douglas, MI 49406
(269) 857-1492


Friday, January 25, 2008
11:30 AM EST
Community Church of Douglas
6780 Wiley Road
Douglas, MI 49406
(269) 857-1492


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society School House Project
PO Box 617
Douglas, MI 49406

Hospice of Holland
270 Hoover Blvd
Holland, MI 49423
(616) 396-2972
Driving Directions
Web Site

Community Church of Douglas Building Fund
6780 Wiley Road
Douglas, MI 49406
(269) 857-1492


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

VS Flowers and Treasures
2914 Blue Star Memorial Highway
Douglas, MI 49406
(269) 857-4613

Life Story / Obituary


Bill Oberholtzer knew the power of words. He chose his carefully, thoughtfully, and artfully, always conveying his message with great character and grace. He was a skilled executive in the advertising business and community leader, as well as a veteran, loving husband, father, grandfather and friend. Bill always chose his words carefully, yet his actions said so much more.

Bill’s story began in Joliet Illinois in the fall 1931. Those were difficult days in this country, with the economy caught in the teeth of the Great Depression. Yet, on November 5, 1931, Sherman and Ethel (Morris) Oberholtzer found a reason to celebrate: the birth of a long awaited first child, a son they named William Henry.

Some years later, brother Dan joined the family. Sherman and Ethel moved the boys to a little country town, Mazon, Illinois, where their family home remained until the early 80s. Bill was a bright young man and fine student. After graduating from high school in 1949, Bill headed off to Greencastle, Indiana, to attend DePauw University.

Bill earned his Bachelor’s degree in 1953. He was drafted into the Army where he served as Sergeant in Japan from 1953-55.

On June 5, 1954, Bill married his sweetheart, Judy Johnson, while he was home on leave, beginning so many wonderful memories and adventures together.

When Bill was discharged, he returned home to Illinois, and to his beloved bride. He also resumed his college career, studying for his Master’s degree in Communications at Northwestern University in Evanston.

After graduating in 1956, Bill found a position at the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency in downtown Chicago, the beginning of a long and illustrious career in the industry, a career that dovetailed with the company’s heyday. Bill started out working in Media Research, yet over the next three decades he attained the lofty titles of Senior Vice President of Media Services and later Senior Vice President of Administration. Bill’s company created so many icons of the ad world, from Charlie the Tuna, to Toucan Sam, to even the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Bill was a highly-respected figure in his profession, and assumed many leadership roles in the industry. He served as President of the Broadcast Advertiser’s Club of Chicago, President of the Media Director’s Council, and taught at the American Association of Advertising Agencies, at the Northwestern University School for Advanced Advertising Studies. Bill always chose his words carefully, and his colleagues hung on every one of them.

As successful and rewarding as his professional career most certainly was, Bill’s personal life was even more so. Bill and Judy were the proud parents of two fine children, Sarah and John, who filled their home with plenty of love and laughter.

Bill was a gentle, understanding and supportive father, who possessed a quiet authority. He was the anchor of the family, who taught his children through his own example. Bill was a hands-on man in everything he did, always ready to be involved, and the same was true when he was at home. Indeed, he was a “do-it-yourselfer” in the Oberholtzer home.

Bill was equally supportive of the community he called home, and volunteered his time, energy and leadership wherever he could. He and Judy were very active community volunteers, and Bill served as Chairman of the Community Division for Fund Raising for the Boy Scouts of Chicago, volunteered with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and he and Judy were active members of the Flossmoor Community Church, too.

Somehow, Bill found time for his many interests and hobbies. He loved music of all kinds, particularly opera and jazz , enjoyed a passion for photography, and was a lifelong fan of the Chicago Bears. He and Judy loved to travel together, and their far-flung adventures took them around the globe over the years.

Bill retired from Leo Burnett in 1983, after nearly 30 years in the business. The couple then moved to the Saugatuck area to begin a new challenge. Bill and Judy opened their own business in Saugatuck, a retail shop and design business, called simply enough, The Design Shop. The couple owned and operated the business for more than a decade, until 1996. During that time, Bill became an active member of the Saugatuck Area Business Association.

Of course, they got involved in their adopted community, as well. Bill was active with the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck, the Saugatuck/Douglas Historical Society, and served on the Saugatuck-Douglas Library Committee. Bill was a committed member of the Community Church of Douglas. The weekly men’s group at the church was for Bill a source of insight, camaraderie, and in his final days, comfort.

Bill had a great love for words, and he always had a way with them, too. He chose them carefully, artfully, conveying his message with great grace and style. A favorite saying of his was, “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.”

Bill was a remarkable man, who lived a remarkable life, a life so full of successes. He possessed business acumen and was a community leader. His greatest successes were as a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend. He was a man known for his words, and beloved for his deeds. He will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years Judy (Johnson) Oberholtzer, children Sarah (Dan) Skwarczek and John (Kathleen) Oberholtzer and grand children Hazel and Cy Oberholtzer, brother Dan (Judie) Oberholtzer, sister in laws Karen (Glenn) Spoerl and Chris (Jerry) Morgan and mother in law, Irene Johnson.

A Memorial Service will be held on Friday January 25, 2008 at 11:30 am Community Church of Douglas, 6780 Wiley Rd. Visitation and lunch to follow at the church at 12:30 pm.

Memorial gifts may be made to Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society School House Project, Community Church of Douglas Building Fund or Hospice of Holland. To share a memory or photo of Bill, or to sign his guestbook, please visit his Memory Page at

Arrangements by the Dykstra Life Story Funeral Homes, Saugatuck Chapel, 520 Lake Street, Saugatuck, MI,