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updated: 1/30/2014 7:15 PM

Batavia WWII, Korean War officer Wyllie was dedicated to helping others

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  • Bill Wyllie received four Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star while serving in the Army in World War II and the Korean War.

    Bill Wyllie received four Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star while serving in the Army in World War II and the Korean War.
    Daily Herald file photo/2004


Service to his country and to his fellow man were important to James "Bill" Wyllie.

It wasn't enough to serve in combat in World War II and the Korean War, sustaining a concussion, shootings, a collapsed lung and a ruptured ear drum along the way.

When he resigned as an Army officer and came home, Wyllie then spent his spare time helping veterans and making sure their sacrifices were not forgotten.

Wyllie, 91, a longtime resident of Batavia, died Tuesday.

Wyllie belonged to the Batavia Overseas Post 1197, Veterans of Foreign Wars. For more than 40 years, he was the officer of the day for the post's Memorial Day ceremony and led the ceremony for at least 10 years.

He also sold red cloth poppies during the American Legion's annual fundraiser so that organization could help veterans at veterans hospitals, the Elgin Mental Health Center and at Hesed House homeless shelter in Aurora, according to his obituary and past Daily Herald stories about him.

He visited with veterans at those places. Wyllie also belonged to the Disabled Veterans of America, and worked with the Kane County Veterans Assistance Commission.

He volunteered with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile, was a member of the Golden K Kiwanis Club, and helped start the Aurora Hunting and Fishing Club.

When Daily Herald columnist Sammi King wanted to write about him in 2004, Wyllie tried to deflect her attention.

"You're not going to write about me. There are millions of veterans out there who go unnoticed. You should write about them," he said. King recalled that Wyllie and his wife, Ginnie, taught her and her sister about patriotism, and were like surrogate grandparents to King's children.

Wyllie was born in 1922 in Aurora, and moved to Batavia in 1937. He was captain of the 1940 Batavia High School basketball team. He attended the University of Illinois, where he was in the Army's Reserve Officers Training Corps. When World War II began, he was called to duty.

Wyllie became a tank platoon commander, entering Europe toward the end of the Battle of the Bulge. He helped liberate the Germans' Stalag III slave-labor camp. He got the concussion and eardrum damage when one of his tanks rolled over a land mine.

The other injuries happened while serving in Korea.

Commendations Wyllie received included four Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

After the Korean War, he became a manufacturer's representative, working at the Merchandise Mart in Geneva.

Wyllie is survived by his wife of 69 years, Ginnie; sons William and James; daughters Ginger Wahl and Carla Seyller; eight grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

His wake is from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Bethany Lutheran Church, 8 S. Lincoln St., Batavia. The funeral is at 3 p.m. at the church.

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