CROKER, William J. 1918-2011
Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 3/26/2015 at 08:40:49
Bill Croker was born in Boston, MA, on June 6, 1918. At age five, he aspired to be a streetcar conductor, encouraged by the employees of the Boston Huntington Avenue line who regularly let him operate the accelerator and doors. This career came to an abrupt end when he prematurely closed the doors on a female rider and his service was terminated.
He turned his attention to broadcasting at age six years, building a crystal radio set from a Quaker Oats box wound with copper wire. Bill's childhood was marked by a great deal of travel as he and his mother followed Bill Croker, Sr. to his summer and winter work as a tennis professional at Longwood Cricket Club, Onwentsia Club, Pinehurst and the British Colonial Hotel in Nassau. After completing high school at Lake Forest Academy near Chicago in 1935, he graduated from Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Evanston, Illinois where he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. At Northwestern, he met his wife of seventy-one years, Mary Esther Moulton of Ishpeming, Michigan, who hired him as a sports reporter for the Daily Northwestern and accompanied him on their first date to the six-day bicycle races. Bill became the night sports editor and an announcer on Northwestern Radio in 1937.
After graduation, he was a news editor at WGN Chicago radio station and spent sixteen straight hours covering the attack on Pearl Harbor. Later he was the program director and head announcer at Marquette, MI, radio station WDMJ, at an increased salary of $27.50 per week. In 1943, he returned as the news editor at WGN and then transitioned to the newly established Chicago Sun-Times, Sun Radio Air Edition, and later the Associated Press (AP) Chicago Bureau. Later that year, he entered the Army and served in the Pacific in the 40th Division for the invasions of New Britain and the Philippines, establishing a military radio station in Panay. After the surrender of Japan, he served in the occupation army in Korea where he set up two military radio stations.
Post-war he returned to the Associated Press and covered the Truman White House as an AP correspondent. In 1948, he was founding manager of radio station KDEC in Decorah, Iowa. Subsequently, he served as advertising manager of the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. Bill was the advertising manager of Sun Newspapers in the Minneapolis, MN, and relocated to Grundy Center, Iowa, where he was the advertising director of the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman until his retirement in 1984. He died on 21 April 2011, in West Branch, Iowa in the superb care of the fine people at Crestview Nursing Home.
Bill was an avid golfer, squash, table tennis, tennis player and lover of Big Bands. He possessed a quick and original wit, excelled at story telling in a rich, radio voice that commanded the room. He served as president of several local Rotary Club International chapters and was an active member of Presbyterian churches in Dubuque, Grundy Center and Iowa City.
Bill is survived by his wife, and two of his three children, Steve Croker of Chestertown, MD and Ginny Naso of Iowa City, IA.
Daughter Barbara predeceased him.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, June 11th at 11:00 am at Engelkes-Abels Funeral Home in Grundy Center, IA. A memorial visitation will be held one hour prior to services at the funeral home. Inurnment will follow the memorial service at Rosehill Cemetery in Grundy Center. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Iowa City Hospice, 1025 Wade St., Iowa City, IA 52240, in acknowledgement of their extraordinary care of Bill & his family during his short illness.
--Abels Funeral Homes (www.abelsfuneralhomes.com)
Grundy Obituaries maintained by Tammy D. Mount.
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