William Bieber, Innovative Entrepreneur, Extraordinary Friend and Loving Father and Grandfather, Dies at 80
William Fredrick Bieber, died on Friday, April 7th in Rochester, Minnesota, surrounded by his loving daughters. Born in Poughkeepsie, NY, Bill moved to Minnesota when he was 10 years old, when his father became president of Acrometal companies. Bill and his older sister, Gail were raised by Grace and Fred Bieber in Edina, Minnesota. Grace was a wiz at card games and board games and Fred loved his dogs and grandkids. All of these terrific traits were passed down to their son Bill.
Bill attended Edina High School from 1957-1960 and remained extremely close with many friends from his high school years for his entire life. He played varsity hockey all four years for the Edina Hornets and was awarded All Conference in 1959 and in 1960. Bill was awarded All State Honors in 1960 as well. Bill wrote that “playing in the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament was one of the high lights of my life.”
Bill attended University of Michigan and continued to play hockey in college. He studied Business Administration while at Michigan and it would be safe to suspect that classes took a distant back seat to the love that Bill had of his teammates and that he had skating on the ice. Bill had a tremendous capstone accomplishment in his senior year when University of Michigan won the 1964 National Championship.
Business and entrepreneurship was always a passion for Bill even in his early years. Bill was only 21 when he spoke with his father about going to work with him at Acrometal. Fred became majority owner of Acrometal as Bill approached graduation from college. Upon graduation, Bill immediately started working with his father, Fred. The father-son management team was one of mutual respect and friendship. When Bill turned 28, he took on the role of President and CEO as Fred remained quite active as Chairman of the Board.
During these early years, Bill met Kathleen Gans O’Connor and the two married in 1968. Bill and Kathy had 3 children; Christine, Jim and Kerri and lived on Lake Minnetonka in Wayzata, Minnesota. Kathy was instrumental in introducing the family to Colorado and igniting the family wide love of skiing and the mountains. Bill purchased a beautiful, but definitely hippy ranch, in their young family days, and named it Bear Paw Springs Ranch, located in Paonia, Colorado. The family spent every June and August in the unspoiled nature of the mountains horseback riding, fishing and hiking. The early years in Colorado has formed Bill, his children and his grandchildren to deeply love nature and being in the out of doors.
As the summer months turned cold and the snow started to fall, Bill took his family on an annual ski trip to Colorado every year. Bill eventually purchased a family home in Snowmass, Colorado, which essentially became a deeply meaningful property where the family would gather to ski, build fires, play cards and tell jokes around the dinner table for the entirety of Bill’s life. Bill would host many guys ski trips in Snowmass and it is reported that the town of Aspen was never the same when the guys tired of skiing and headed into town in the evenings for some dinner and dancing.
When Bill wasn’t building his companies and spending time with his family, he could be counted on to be a wonderful friend to all. You would be a lucky person to have even a fraction of the friendships that Bill had during his lifetime. Bill always had a smile, was known for telling silly jokes, laughing and generally having loads of fun. He cultivated his friendships on the squash court, hunting, fishing, riding horses or heading out for a round of golf. One of Bill’s close friends recently said, “It would literally be impossible to have a better friend than Bill. He would do anything for you.”
An invitation to travel to Africa was a fortunate gift for Bill, as the trip was the beginning of a deep journey with his spirituality. He started to join Bible groups, study and ask endless spiritual questions. Church and Community became a source of deep substance and importance to Bill which enriched much of his life.
Philanthropy, service and giving back to his community was paramount in Bill’s life. He created the Bieber Family Foundation in 1990 to address quality of life for vulnerable people, especially those who are developmentally or physically disabled; a vehicle to honor his beloved son Jim. Bill also served on many boards including Hammer Residences, Washburn Child Guidance Center, Dunwoody College of Technology and TCF Bank. Bill also was a committed member of Wayzata Community Church.
Bill is survived by his girlfriend, Nancy Grothe of Deephaven, MN, his children Christine Orris and her husband Jay Orris, of Boulder, Colorado, James Bieber, of Wayzata, Minnesota, Kerri McAfoos and her husband Travis McAfoos of Denver, Colorado and his grandchildren Luke and Ryan Orris of Boulder, Colorado and Blake, William and Graeme McAfoos of Denver, Colorado. He is predeceased by his sister, Gail Bieber (July 5, 2019) and Bill’s beloved golden retriever and best friend, Nellie, (November 2022) who was faithfully and lovingly by Bill’s side until the end.
A Celebration of Life will be held for Bill at Wayzata Community Church,125 Wayzata Blvd. East, Wayzata, MN 55391, on Thursday, April 27, 2023 at 2:00pm.. A Reception will immediately follow at Wayzata Country Club, 200 Wayzata Blvd. West, Wayzata, MN 55391.
The McAfoos and Orris families would like to give a special thank you for the outpouring of friendship and love during this extraordinarily painful time. It is difficult to comprehend all of the benevolence and love shared during this time and it has truly been instrumental to our families as we grapple with the understanding that we have lost our greatest treasure. In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made in honor of Bill’s son, Jim to Hammer Residences.
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