William Thomas Farnsworth

January 19, 1927 - April 27, 2023


Obituary For William Thomas Farnsworth

Waunakee - William Thomas Farnsworth, age 96, passed away peacefully on April 27th, 2023 at Homestead Assisted Living in Waunakee, Wisconsin.

Bill was born on January 19th, 1927 to Russell and Irena Farnsworth in the small town of Millinocket, Maine. After serving in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II he returned to his home state, graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he played basketball and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. He began his career at Allis Chalmers shortly after.

He would work at Allis Chalmers for 39 years. The job took him from the East Coast to the Midwest, where he met Nancy Droegkamp. The two married in 1954 and went on to have three children.

After living in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Brookfield, WI, Bill settled his family in Appleton, WI. His love of woodworking blossomed as his basement workshop grew. His children’s lives were punctuated by the sounds of the table saw and the sweet smell of sawdust.

Bill was also an avid fisherman. He spent many happy hours casting for walleyes in the waters of Roberts Lake in Northern Wisconsin. When not on the lake or in the workshop, he would hit the golf course. His hole-in-one golf ball always had a spot of honor in his home.

After he retired in 1989, Bill and Nancy moved to Butte Des Morts, WI, to a home on a lake with a huge basement for the ultimate workshop. Bill filled their home, and those of his adult children, with beautiful handcrafted furniture. These heirlooms serve as a treasured reminder of his talent, skill, and his love of family.

Bill was predeceased by his wife Nancy, his parents, and his four siblings. He is survived by his children; Betsy (Keith) Vanden Wymelenberg, Jay (Denise) Farnsworth, and Sue (Dave) Eckerle, and his four grandchildren; Rob, Molly, Maddie, and Ben.

Bill was a stoic New Englander through and through. He loved his family quietly and fiercely, never complained, and loved a good boiled dinner. His sweet tooth was legendary, and he always had room for dessert. He was a gentleman whose amiable nature made him a beloved addition to every community in which he lived.

He was greatly loved and will be greatly missed.

Bill’s family would like to thank the outstanding, loving staff at Homestead Living, Inc. and Agrace Hospice for bringing him joy and comfort in his final months. To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:

Ryan Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

2418 N Sherman Ave


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  • May 07, 2023

    Truly a wonderful man and fellow A-C employee! It was my great honor to plan his retirement party, as we waiting to see if he would be back from China due to Tiananmen Square protests. He did and we all had a great time. He will continue to be missed by us all.

  • May 03, 2023

    Tom and myself offer our deepest sympathies to his family. We always enjoyed seeing him at family gatherings and Maddie and Ben's sporting events. What a life he led. Love, Kate & Tom HC

  • May 02, 2023

    Mr. Farnsworth was my real-life neighborhood "Steve Douglas" (Father in the TV Series My Three Sons). Growing up in Appleton Wisconsin in the early 70's the Fransworths were our neighbors. I do vividly remember the sound of Mr. Farnsworth working in his garage or basement - seemly always with a gentlemen's pipe nearby. Honest, kind, and extremely intelligent. Funny what you remember from your childhood - I will always remember Mr. Farnsworth.

  • May 02, 2023

    Our condolences to Mr. Farnsworth's family. We had the privilege of living next door to "Mr. Bill" as we called him for many years in Butte des Morts, WI. He was a wonderful neighbor. May God bring you peace during this time. With love, The Gilman Family

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