Ever strong & resilient, Rodney Keith Waldmann, 95, completed his earthly mission on Friday, November 6, 2020 after a prolonged illness. A direct descendant of Patriot Gen. Artemis Ward (Revolutionary War), Rod was born on November 23, 1924, in North Lancaster to August & Mabel (Duncalf) Waldmann. Soon after his birth, his parents moved their family to the land that now comprises the Lancaster Golf Course. Enduring crippling poverty, Rod’s family moved into town as his mother’s health declined. He helped support the family by delivering newspapers, mowing lawns, caddying at the golf course, searching for golf balls & selling sweet corn. There was also extra work found during hay time each year.
Rod enjoyed boxing throughout high school and playing football his senior year. Following graduation from Lancaster High School in 1942, he applied to join the Army Air Force but received no answer. He eventually was drafted and spent Basic Training at Camp Wolters, Texas. After Basic, he was transferred to the Army Air Force at Sheppard Field where he was designated Navigator. His training was delayed when he was stricken with Scarlet Fever – which at the time was a very serious illness. A new experimental drug was sent that saved him although his military career was put on hold for over a year as he recovered. He eventually graduated on Dec. 23, 1944 as a Flight Officer, 2nd Lieutenant. After a 2-week long furlough, he went to Lincoln, NE where they put together the flight crews – he was assigned to a B17. These planes were notorious for being flying heaps of metal with no real protection from the -60° temps. During this time, Rod found he had an affinity for celestial navigation. By V-E Day, he was working on a B29 and was Honorably Discharged in December 1945. He married Helen Nagel in 1949. They had 2 children, Theresa (Terri) & Richard.
Upon returning to civilian life in early 1946, Rod enrolled at the UW-Madison under the GI Bill. During his senior year, he built his 1st home in Madison (which ended up belonging to a relative of his second wife, Doris). At the UW, he received his Bachelor of Science (Light Building Industry) in June 1949, and immediately started working with a local builder. After creating Waldmann Builders, he continued to build both single family & multi-family units in the Madison/Middleton area until the 1980’s – though he owned & maintained several units on North Gammon Road until 2018. He really enjoyed working on many projects with his good friend, Don Benson, who remained working for him until Rod retired. Rod’s son, Richard, also was a big part of Rod’s later building projects.
Rod married Doris Wuthrich Lingard on August 21, 1981. This began a nearly 40-year union that endured until the end. Rod enjoyed many pasttimes but none more than getting out on golf courses across the country or sitting down for a great round of cards. He was also a voracious reader who loved history and books more than anything. Rod and Doris logged thousands of miles traveling around the world, along with numerous jaunts out dancing. He was our Polka King. Rod was also generous when it came to helping others. On more than one occasion, he helped those who needed assistance even when they never asked.
In recognition of his military service, he was on one of the first Stars & Stripes (soon-to-be Badger) Honor Flights from Milwaukee to Washington DC in April 2009, along with his brother-in-law, Harold Zurbuchen. In 2019, Rod was honored at the UW vs Maryland basketball game at the Kohl Center as their honorary captain. That year marked the 70th anniversary since Rod graduated from the UW.
Survivors include his wife of 39 years, Doris Waldmann; daughter, Terri (Steve) Kamp, Middleton; stepdaughters Dawn Lingard (Steve Witcraft), Dodgeville; and Diana (Steve) Halverson, Belleville along with granddaughters, Aleta & Brianna Halverson, and great granddaughter, Charlee Heberlein; nieces Fern Keniston, Golden Valley, MN; and Jeanette Munoz Jr., Needville, TX. Rod was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Helen Tuntland and Fern Gintz; and beloved son, Richard.
The family would like to thank the many people who impacted Rod’s life, including Pastor Rev. Dr. Mark Yurs of Salem United Church of Christ. They would also like to acknowledge the exceptional care given at Agrace Memory Care and St. Mary’s Care Center.
To celebrate Rod’s life, family & friends are invited to visitation at Salem United Church of Christ, Verona on Wednesday, November 11th from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M. Please respect the guidelines and wear a mask while socially distancing as requested by Dane County. Due to Covid restrictions, a private funeral service will take place immediately after the visitation. Interment will be at Verona Cemetery, Verona, WI. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Salem United Church of Christ, Agrace Hospice Fitchburg or the Verona American Legion Post 385.
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