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William “Bill” Blankenhorn

December 28, 2021 | 9 comments

William “Bill” Howard   of LaCrosse/Arcadia, WI, died peacefully in his home on December 16, 2021, two days after his 53rd Birthday, with his wife by his side.

He was born in La Crosse on December 14, 1968 to Diane Spencer (Nelson) and Carlyn Blankenhorn. He lived in Ettrick, WI with his parents until they separated. He then moved to Eau Claire with his mother where he met his lifelong friends. He graduated from Memorial High School in 1987. After his graduation, he moved back to the Ettrick area and eventually to La Crosse, WI. For many years, he worked as carpenter building houses. He also worked as a mechanic restoring cars with his dad, which remained one of his passions. He purchased a farm in Arcadia where he continued his hobby of restoring classic cars. He decided he wanted to be his own boss and he purchased a chicken farm which he worked until his retirement in March of 2021.

Bill and his wife Kelly Wing (Riordan) found each other again in 2015 after 16 years. Until their rekindled relationship, it was thought he would never marry.  He proposed Christmas of 2018, and they were married June 20, 2020 at their farm. One month after their wedding he was diagnosed with ALS. Although the disease ravished his body quickly, the two of them remained a strong team until his last breath.

Bill loved loud music, parties at the farm, campouts, and playing pranks on his wife and step-kids. He mastered everything he set his mind to. He could paint a stunning portrait, play thundering lines on his bass guitar, or restore a vintage International Harvester truck from the frame up. Because of his ability to combine mechanical talent with an artistic touch, it is tempting to call Bill a “Renaissance Man.”  But because of his humble nature Bill probably wouldn’t have liked such a fancy title. Many of his close friends instead call Bill “The Last of The Real Mountain Men,” because he was as tough as they come, and yet had a sweetness to him that was legendary. He was truly one of a kind, which is why his early and untimely passing is such a devastating loss to everyone who knew and loved him.

Bill is survived by his wife Kelly, and three stepchildren, Alexander, Kasey and Aryiah Wing of Lacrosse; His mother Diane Spencer (Nelson) of Eau Claire; His father Carlyn Blankenhorn and Nancy Geary of Melrose; brother Dwayne Blankenhorn of Arcadia, WI; Kelly’s parents Michael and Evelyn “Sue“ (Schlicht) Riordan of Onalaska, WI ; sister and brother in-law Brian and Kerry (Riordan) Glodosky their children, his nephew and niece, James and Grace all of Maplewood, MN.  He was preceded in death by his stepfather Mike Spencer, maternal grandparents Earl and Evelyn Nelson and paternal grandparents Doris and Howard Blankenhorn.

Thank you to the Gundersen Hospice team for the outstanding care they provided Bill until the very end.

The Funeral will be Saturday, January 8, 2022 at 3:30 at the Gathering Place, 133 Mason Street, Onalaska WI. Visitation will be from 2:00 until time of services with a luncheon to follow.






  1. Kerry & Mike

    We are so sorry for your loss Kelly & family.
    Your love story will never truly end.
    Bill will always be in your heart ❤️

  2. Robert Graham

    Bill was one of a kind. Truly a great man who will be sorely missed. RIP brother.

  3. Linda Schroeder

    Kelly & Diane and Families.

    My Sincerest Sympathy on the loss of Bill.

    “When you lose someone very precious, no one else can really know all that you feel….But please know that many caring thoughts are with you during this time of sorrow”.

    May the Love you shared stay strong in your hearts forever.

    Linda & Richard Schroeder

  4. Thomas franzini

    Our deepest sympathies to you Kelly and Bill’s family.
    Without a doubt Pete will be greeting Bill in his journey of eternity, One day we all will be there as well-

    Sincerely Tom and Carrie

  5. kevin l Corcoran

    Rest in peace ,was always nice to see Billy.

    • Gene Ringleman

      Our condolences to you and all family and friends. You are in our thoughts and prayers, Kelly.

    • Maureen Snodgrass

      Hi Kelly you don’t know me Kathy Dusso told me about your husband passing. My husband Ben passed away November 18,2019 of ALS. He fought valiantly but 2 years and 4 months after his diagnoses he left us to go to our heavenly father. Your husband sounded like a great man. Ben also loved restoring cars and was artistic and could sing Elvis and Neil Diamond. He was my second marriage and the love of my life. You have my sympathy and lean on those who love you. Someone told me by accepting help from someone your giving them a gift. So take whatever someone is able to give or help you with. I know time helps but I will always miss Ben.

  6. Becky Kahle

    Rest in peace my Friend

    Peace and love to you, Kelly and Billy’s family as well

  7. Robin Kahle

    Always humble and kind, you will be missed by many.
    Rest in paradise, Billy


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