William Cornelius Sweere was born in Butler, Minnesota on December 18, 1932 and passed away peacefully on September 3, 2023, surrounded by family. The son of John and Mary Sweere, “Bill” had five siblings—Richard, Ann, John Jr., Patricia, and Joseph. Starting life on a farm, he always had a strong understanding of hard work. When he moved to the “big city” of Sioux Falls, South Dakota in grade school, he worked hard selling newspapers and shining shoes until he was old enough to start working at the local JJ Newberry’s dime store. From a very young age, it was his responsibility to buy milk for the family.
As a young teen, Bill detasseled corn only because his tall straw hat made him tall enough to qualify. He met his lifelong love, Verla Davie of Harrisburg, SD, doing this job. Dates mostly consisted of meeting at the roller rink as Bill was quite the talented skater. After Bill graduated from Sioux Falls Cathedral High School, the young couple married in January of 1951. Work with Newberry’s took the family to multiple destinations around the Midwest where they grew to include nine children—Bob (Susan), Jo Anne (Jim Deppe), Kathy, Billy (Vicki), Jim (Heidi), Susie (Ken Fielding), Steve, Jess and Danny (Kathi). Before the last two were born, Bill and Verla settled into a home in Sioux City, Iowa where Bill operated a trucking terminal for Murphy Motor Freight.
Bill had a love for cars and rebuilt many including a 1961 Austin Healey 3000. He worked with his best buddies on the pit crews for stock car racers including Bill Bradstreet and Terry Taggart, most often at Husett’s Speedway near Sioux Falls. Bill continued his love of skating with his wife and the children at the local rink. The loving couple also took ballroom dance classes together. Polka was their favorite dance but the Tennessee Waltz was their favorite song. Friday nights often meant nights out for prime rib or fish fries.
As a father, he participated as the president of the PTA and a scoutmaster for Boy Scout troops. He took the neighbor kids for rides in his sports car and helped his sons rebuild old junkers into true treasures. Bill and Verla worked together to make several houses not just homes but works of art. When the family moved to Arkansas in the late ‘70s, they had a new house built on the shore of Lake Beaverfork near Conway. The young sons spent their days zooming through the woods on mini-bikes he helped keep running and the whole family loved boating, especially water-skiing.
A true “freight man,” Bill owned or worked for a number of trucking companies for the following decades and in 1994, he won the Arkansas Truck Driving Championship and represented the state in the national competition in Tampa. At 62, he may have been the oldest participant ever. His backing skills were at expertise levels and it was often remarked that he could back the big rigs behind the Arkansas Gazette without ever having to realign once.
Retirement found the Sweere couple moving into the Pleasant Valley subdivision of Little Rock. Together, they beautified another home and created a garden of joy and relaxation. They started attending the neighborhood pool and POA meetings. They also began to take water aerobics classes and built a new circle of friends. These friends celebrated Mondays with an after-class lunch at Sam’s for the hot dog combo. This activity lasted for years! Most of these friends have passed since but Stanley and Rose remained the best of friends with him.
A decade ago, Bill and Verla built a new home in west Little Rock designed by Verla specifically for their later years. It was perfect for the final years and hosted many big family celebrations. Annual Christmas celebrations included a dirty Santa exchange. His 90th birthday surprise celebration included scores of family and friends. He loved time spent with them, especially his twenty grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren.
Great Bill—the name one of his great-grandchildren gave him—would want to be remembered for his greatest of treasures, his family. He will always be remembered for the support and guidance he would lovingly provide. He was a hard-working and softly caring husband (after Verla passed, he wore her wedding ring on his pinkie finger next to his wedding band to keep her close to his heart), father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend. He was ninety and had lived a long hard-working life, but it was a treasured life. Bill Sweere always provided goodness, kindness, and respect.
Arrangements by A Natural State Funeral Service 2620 West Main Street, Jacksonville, Arkansas 72076. 501-982-3400. Online guestbook available at www.anaturalstatefuneralservice.com