William J. Elbert, Sr.

July 25, 1934 — Nov. 25, 2016

 

William J. “Bill” Elbert, Sr., awesome husband, dad, grandpa, great grandpa, brother, uncle, friend, proud veteran, police officer and pioneering probation officer passed away on Nov. 25, 2016, at the age of 82. 

Bill will always be remembered for being an honest and compassionate person who cared deeply for his fellow human beings, especially those he considered “underdogs.”

Bill was born July 25, 1934, to Mary and Arnold Elbert in Algona. Bill volunteered at the age of 17 and served in the Korean War as a U.S. Navy Corpsman with the 3rd Medical Battalion, attached to the 3rd U.S. Marine Division. He was honorably discharged in 1959 after 19 months Foreign Service and eight years total service to our country. 

Bill was honored to serve on a military detail that traveled to Iwo Jima to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of our Marine and Navy victory over the Japanese there in World War II.

In 1957, Bill married the true love of his life, Ruth Bell, and they had three children, Tammy (Richard Cairns), Bill Jr. (Sherry) and Mike (Amy) as well as eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren. 

Bill and Ruth’s devotion to one another and their family never wavered during their nearly 60 wonderful years of marriage.

Bill served as a police officer in Storm Lake, for a short time before a 34-year career as an innovative parole and probation officer for the 5th Judicial District, Department of Corrections, in Des Moines. In 1971, Bill testified before the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., about an innovative and successful pretrial release program he started in Des Moines. Throughout his career, Bill had many other notable accomplishments that served the common good.

The greatest impact of Bill’s professional legacy was the many wonderful women and men he hired at the 5th Judicial District. At his retirement in 2000, Bill was honored as a true pioneer in the field of corrections and in 2012, he received a prestigious national pretrial services award for his many contributions to ensuring fairness for defendants under our Constitution.

Visitation was at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church (OLIH) in Ankeny on Dec. 1 from 6-7:30 p.m., with a prayer vigil at 7:30 p.m. Funeral services were held on Dec. 2 at 10:30 a.m., at OLIH. Memorials can be sent to Wounded Warrior Project, Taylor Hospice House in Des Moines, or OLIH.

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