Bill Spaltholz: Coach, Artist, Patriarch

Published on: 2/6/2012

Bill Spaltholz was a giant of a man, and not just because of his size.

At six feet, seven inches tall, he was built like the great oak tree in our front yard and towers above the roof of our house.

Bill was also a giant of a football coach and teacher at South Milwaukee High School. He built winning and even championship football teams – South Milwaukee Alderman Erik Brooks provides a brief summary of his 32-year career in his South Milwaukee blog at Bill was recognized for those accomplishments by being inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame and by having the new South Milwaukee High School football stadium named for him.  

He also built good and productive citizens in the students who populated his classes during the 35 years he taught at South Milwaukee High. And many recognize his teaching superiority.

At a South Milwaukee citizens rally earlier this year, more than one spoke of Coach Spaltholz and credited him with being one of the outstanding teachers that contributed to the excellent education they received at South Milwaukee High School.

“He was the best teacher I ever had,” one man said.

That praise was made by people who had no knowledge of the illness he was battling that eventually took his life on Friday.

Some 15-plus years ago when my husband and I came to know Bill, he had long since retired from his years of coaching and teaching and had become an artist. He took classes in various media and became good enough to have his work in juried shows, to hang on the walls of art show patrons and to put on Christmas cards he and Nancy, his wife of 57 years, sent to friends and relatives.

This is painting is titled “Seven Bridges, Grant Park, South Milwaukee”.

An exquisite painting he did of the high school hangs in the lobby area of the school’s Performing Arts Center.

My husband and I know Bill because his son, Tom, married our daughter, Carrianne – and we, in fact, moved from Southern California to South Milwaukee after Tom and Carrianne started their family. Of Bill and Nancy’s 16 wonderful grandchildren, my husband and I share three.

That is an honor.

Here’s a link to the Journal Sentinel death notice

Here’s a link to Alderman Erik Brooks’s blog post inviting those who knew Bill to share their memories.

Flowers mourners placed in fence at Spaltholz Field.