Bill Wellbaum of Englewood, Fla. died peacefully while surrounded by family on April 13, 2018 at Tidewell Hospice House of Venice after a brief but courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
Aged 74, Bill was born on October 3, 1943, in Waverly, Ohio. Raised in Lima, Ohio by his late parents, Robert "Bob" W. Wellbaum and Frances White Wellbaum, he graduated from Bath High School in 1961. Bill was an avid Boy Scout, achieving the level of Eagle Scout.
Bill worked multiple jobs to put himself through college and graduated from Ohio State University in 1966 with a degree in business administration. He worked at US Steel and Westinghouse before attending law school. He graduated from Ohio Northern University in 1973 with a Juris Doctorate degree.
Bill married the love of his life, Carolyn Sue Clemans Wellbaum of Lima, Ohio, on March 20, 1966. Married for 52 years, Bill and Sue have three children, Carrie (and Mike) Wellbaum Stewart of Rockwall, Texas; Lori (and Shawn) Wellbaum Emery of Englewood, Fla.; and Rob (and Christine) Wellbaum of Auburn, Ala.
Known as "Papa," one of Bill's greatest joys in life were his ten grandchildren and great grandchild: Blaine, Riley and Sariti Stewart; Hayden and Weston Wolff; Brii (Axell - great grandson) and Collin Emery; and Hannah, Maddie and Lilli Wellbaum.
Bill is also survived by his two sisters, Janet (and Dick) Campbell of Bluffton, Ohio; and Judy (and Mike) Tannehill of Las Cruces, New Mexico, as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Bill and Sue moved their family to the Englewood community 44 years ago when Bill began his law practice concentrating in the areas of real estate, probate, wills and estate planning, and small business advice. He was a U.S. District Court, U.S. Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court certified lawyer. A member of the Florida Bar since 1974, Bill served on the Executive Committee of the General Practice Section; the Continuing Legal Education Committee; as President and Secretary-Treasurer of the Venice-Englewood, Sarasota County Section; and as a member of the Charlotte County and American Bar Associations.
Bill was a dedicated community leader. He was a member of Englewood United Methodist Church serving on the administrative board; Englewood Jaycees; Englewood Moose Lodge; Englewood Sportsman's Club; Englewood Chamber of Commerce; Lemon Bay's Quarterback and Sixth Man Club; Englewood-Sarasota County Parks and Recreation Council; President of the Kiwanis Club of Englewood; counsel to the Englewood Board of Realtors and the Englewood Water District; director for numerous community bank boards; and director and chairman of the Englewood Community Hospital Board.
Bill was actively involved with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks at the local, district, state and national levels. Initiated into Englewood Elks Lodge #2378 in October 1977, Bill served as Esteemed Lecturing Knight and as Esteemed Loyal Knight. He was elected Exalted Ruler when the previous Exalted Ruler passed away and then served a second term. He also served as Lodge Scholarship Chairman and was on the lodge committee for Florida Elks Children's Therapy Services. For the South Southwest District, he was the District Membership Chairman, the District Elks National Foundation Scholarships Chairman, the District Visitation Chairman, District Vice President, District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler, and was named District Leader Emeritus.
Statewide, Bill served as Vice Chairman and Chairman of Resolutions, as Vice President at Large, as State President, and on the Board of Directors of the Florida State Elks Association. He was also a member of the Past State Presidents Advisory Council, advisor for Youth Activities and Wills & Bequests, and as a member of the Florida Elks Properties Board of Directors. Bill was in his 28th year on the Judiciary Committee as Legal Advisor for the Harry-Anna Investment Fund and served as its chairman.
Nationally, Bill served as Area-3 member of the Grand Lodge Judiciary Committee and then as a Presiding Justice on the Grand Lodge Grand Forum, serving one year as Chief Justice.
A memorial service will be held at 4:00 p.m., Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the Englewood United Methodist Church located at 700 East Dearborn Street, Englewood, Fla. The service will be followed by a Celebration of Life at the Englewood Elks Lodge.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Bill Wellbaum Leadership Scholarship, c/o Englewood Elks #2378, 401 N. Indiana Ave., Englewood, FL 34223-2701.