William (Bill) Joseph Wulff, 89, of Columbia died at Boone Hospital Center on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. A private funeral Mass for the immediate family will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Columbia. Entombment will immediately follow with military honors at Memorial Park Cemetery.

Friends are welcome at the cemetery but asked to observe social distancing and/or wear a face covering. Friends are invited to join a virtual service via Facebook live. Please visit www.memorialfuneralhomecolumbia.com and select the view livestream tab under services at the time of the service. If you are unable to view the service live, it will be available for replay on the Memorial Funeral Home, Crematory & Memorial Park Cemetery/Columbia Facebook page after the Mass ends.

Bill was born July 24, 1931, in Vienna, Missouri, to Louis Joseph and Margaret Wansing Wulff. One of five children, he was preceded in death by one infant sister, Mary, and two brothers, Martin and Al Wulff.

He married Helen Ruth Wilson on Oct. 4, 1952, in Kansas City, and in 2008, she preceded him in death. Bill and Helen raised four children: son Joseph W. of Hallsville, son Philip D. (Karen) and daughters Sharon K. Naylor (Walter) and Janet L. Hagan (Jeff) all of Columbia.

From the time of their birth, his grandfatherly love and guidance was bestowed upon his grandchildren, Douglas, Katie and Amy Wulff; William and Daniel Naylor; and Elizabeth and Nicholas Hagan.

He was also blessed with great-grandchildren: Jacob, Jayda, Andi and Charlotte Wulff, Lyla Draffen and Harper Naylor; step-grandchildren, Erica, Erin and Evan Enderle, Aaron and Nathan Schwartze; and great step-grandchildren, Nate Michael, Emma and Keegan Schwartze.

Bill is survived by his brother, Doc Wulff; and his sisters-in-law, Phyllis, Bernice and Margaret Wulff of Columbia. He was dearly loved by his nieces, nephews and cousins.

As a widower, Bill was fortunate to meet Betty Slate, and they forged a loving and supportive friendship that lasted for many years until her passing in 2019.

Bill spent his adolescent and early teen years attending Catholic schools and working on their family dairy farm in Dixon. His family relocated to Columbia when his father was offered employment with B.D. Simon.

The family still maintained a farm life by moving to a dairy farm in Prathersville. Bill attended and graduated from David H. Hickman High School in 1949, and during his senior year his mother signed papers giving him permission to enroll in the U.S. Army.

While at Fort Sam Houston medical school he received a medical technician diploma. He attended undergraduate courses at Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Ord, California, and the University of Alaska. He used his medical training while stationed at Eielson Field, Alaska, during the Cold War and the Korean Conflict.

Bill returned to Columbia in 1952 and not long afterward, he and Helen were married in Kansas City. His years of service in the Army helped to develop him into the man he was, and he was honored to be a Lifetime Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 280 and an Honorary Life Member of the Elks Lodge 594. The friendships he developed in those organizations were ones of great importance to him.

His early employment experience ranged from auto and farm machinery sales, serving as an officer for the Columbia Police Department, insurance sales and general construction.

His first introduction to building began while working with a special masonry brick that was used on several homes in the Parkade subdivision and constructing kit homes. After building confidence in home sales, he decided to harness his entrepreneurial spirit and encouraged his brother Al to come to work with him.

In 1959 they formed the Wulff Brothers Construction Co. Soon after, his father, Louis, joined them as a carpenter. Later, his uncles, Cletus (Chick) and Ben, who were both painters by trade, also made their imprint on the beautiful homes the brothers built.

Several years later, his brothers, Marty and Doc, who were masons, started their company, Wulff Bros. Masonry. The four brothers eventually came to share an office together on Lakeview Drive.

For over 50 years he and Al built custom homes and worked with other local builders to develop subdivisions such as Parkade, Rothwell Heights, College Park, Georgetown, Country Farms and Germantown.

They built beautiful custom homes for clients throughout Boone, Callaway, Camden, Howard and Morgan counties. Bill was asked to do construction work in the early 1960s at the Lake of the Ozarks. While in the area of Gravois Mills, he made a deal for some land on Soap Creek branch.

It was there that he envisioned building a lake resort. In 1964, the Wulff Harbor Resort opened and featured a restaurant, lounge, full-service marina, pool, riding stables, recreation complex and best of all, its own airport!

Bill was a pilot and decided it was as good a time as any to also become a Cessna dealer. The resort and airport were a success, and individual cabins were also constructed for family members to share.

Full-time business commitments back in Columbia made it difficult to manage a resort from a distance. Eventually the resort was sold, but the family kept a houseboat at the marina and continued to enjoy the lake life together and with many friends for the next 20 years.

In 1996, while it was still a working resort, Bill’s family arranged for a trip there for his 65th birthday.

The business adventures Bill has started or invested in with his brothers are numerous. Some, but not all, include; A Frame Kit homes, Winnebago Motor Home Sales, Mid-City Lumber Yard, Snoopy’s Liquor Store, Barberry Christmas Tree Farm, Northwest Properties, Holiday Seafood’s, A Millwork business, Al’s Cars and Trucks, numerous rental properties, Storage units, Critter Guard and A Fuels, an alternative fuel company.

If one came up with an idea, all four would do what they could to help support it with the strengths each brought to the table. Purchasing property adjacent to the Whiteman Air Force Base, put them in a prime position when they received the contract to refurbish base housing.

In 1987 when Missouri U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton announced the Department of Defense had selected Whiteman AFB as the first home of the newest B-2 Advanced Technology Bomber, the Wulff brothers also created an extremely important business partnership with the Northrop Grumman Corp.

Bill loved all kinds of sports. He and his wife were avid supporters and longtime season ticket holders, rarely ever missing an MU Tiger football or basketball game. For several years he and Helen along with Al and Bernice and friends Joe and Fran Scallorns were honored to host military personnel from Whiteman AFB at the games honoring veterans.

He never played golf but volunteered for over 30 years at annual tournaments hosted by his nephew and then also for the 10-33 Benevolent Fund. During the tournaments, it made him happy to share with the golfers the pro bono work he had developed with his bulldozer to help take the Columbia Country Club course from nine to 18 holes.

Wulff Brothers also built several of the homes along the Country Club of Missouri golf course. Anyone who participated in those tournaments knew that it would be Bill who started things off with a shotgun start!

Sporting activities also kept him busy. He was an avid supporter for the Wulff Brothers Flippers touch football team where he loved seeing adult family members and friends participate in the challenging sport.

Hunting for game was a given when he was growing up out in the country, but later in life, hunting excursions offered him an opportunity to develop lifelong friendships like the one he shared with Dr. Lynn Mitchell. When his family grew to include grandchildren, he did the best he could to share his hunting skills.

In addition, he also enjoyed attending their school programs and sponsored many sports teams for swimming, tennis, soccer, football, baseball, golf, shooting sports and basketball.

Bill enjoyed being involved in numerous volunteer efforts in Columbia and the surrounding counties. He initiated the Auxiliary Police, started a volunteer ambulance service, formed the Columbia Home Builders Association, served on the bank board for Farmers and Traders in California, Missouri, and assisted with several political campaigns for family and friends including, Carolyn Lathrop, Karen Miller, Pat Lensmeyer and nephew Roger B. Wilson.

He was also a supporter of the Boone County Fair and loved attending it annually. He always showed support for the 4-H youth projects by attending the auctions that followed the Boone County ham breakfast.

It was a treat for him to be able to attend the 2019 auction with his family and dear friend Richard Sorrels. He was always so pleased when his nephew, Roger B. Wilson, emceed the event and of course Bill generously purchased numerous hams for his family.

Showing his support for the long-running Salute to Veterans Air Show by attending fundraising events and the annual parade provided an opportunity to show his patriotism and love for country.

He always attended the events with dear friends Eleonore and Jay Loesing. Meeting the honored veterans at the events made an everlasting impression on him and became the highlight of many stories he would share.

Bill felt with the construction knowledge he had gained over the years that it was his duty to give back to the community. He served on the building committee for Our Lady of Lourdes and oversaw construction of the new church and school wing.

He was especially proud that his family donated the slab of granite that would become the altar for the church. Beneath it is a memorial plaque recognizing his parents who were also devout members of the parish. His father had worked on the construction of the first church building which now serves as the Parish Hall.

In the 1980s when Bill’s wife was a member of the Genealogical Society of Boone County and Central Missouri, the members of that organization and the Boone County Historical Society had been discussing for several years their desire to have a space for a genealogical library and a historical museum for Boone County.

Helen told Bill that she was sure with his business contacts and construction knowledge that he could make what seemed like a grand dream a real possibility. There were many naysayers in the community who said the museum would never happen, but they didn’t know Bill Wulff and the other strong community members who would rise to the occasion to back the project.

Several creative fundraisers were held and the idea for a museum was talked up at presentations and on TV programs like "Paul Pepper and Friends." Bill always credited his good friend Raul Walters for the financial backing that really helped to get the ball rolling with the project.

When he approached Walters and offered him a way to leave a legacy in honor of his family, all Walters asked was, “How much do you need Bill?” That afternoon Walters wrote a six-figure check to the society. The museum was named The Walters Boone County Historical Museum and Galleries.

Wulff also forged a close friendship with American artist Tracy Montminy. She had asked Bill to help her crate and uncrate pieces of artwork she had stored at her home. Next thing he knew, they were developing a plan to store her and her late husband, Pierre’s, art pieces as they had no heirs to leave them to.

When Bill promised her he could add an addition on to the museum and create vaults to store her work, she made arrangements for her estate to fund the Montminy Gallery. When she died, she left her remaining estate to the Boone County Historical Society.

Helen helped to prepare the estate for auction, and the friendship with the world-renowned artist left a lasting impression on Bill that he would never forget. The museum, which recently had its name changed to the Boone County History and Culture Center, celebrated its 30th anniversary in July 2020.

When Bill was honored in 2012 as a Wall of Fame Recipient by the Boone County Historical Society, he was able to recall each of the close friends and business owners that had come through for him when he called on them for help with monetary donations, supplies, services and building materials.

He had physically prepared the building site and foundation among many other construction efforts and continued to donate his time performing work and serving on various boards for over 25 years.

It meant the world to Bill when his dear friend, Karen Miller took it upon herself to garner support to create the Wulff Flag Garden in front of the museum. She felt it was important to honor Bill for his years of service and dedication.

The Boone County Genealogical Society Library inside the museum is also named after the Wulff and Wilson families. His last project was helping to support his daughter in 2014 when she initiated a native plant and butterfly garden in the Village of Boone Junction.

Bill also received a certificate of appreciation from the Voluntary Action Center for his outstanding volunteer service, and the Wulff family received a certificate as charter members of the Builders Club.

About five years ago, Bill moved from the last home he built and shared with his family since 1976 in Rothwell Heights to The Terrace and then to Cedarhurst Assisted Living. He rekindled many old friendships at those locations but also made many new friends.

His family greatly appreciated the assistance offered by staff members at those locations. Last week, he knew his years of work here had been completed, and he was finally ready to rest and be at peace.

In lieu of flowers the family request memorials be made to one of the following that were very important to Bill: Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 903 Bernadette Drive, Columbia, MO 65203; Central Missouri Honor Flight, 1400 Forum Blvd. Suite 7-A, Box 334 Columbia, MO 65203; and the Boone County Historical Society, 3801 Ponderosa St. Columbia, 65201.

Recommended for you