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Norm Voelliger, true Bettendorf supporter, dies at age 89

Norm Voelliger, true Bettendorf supporter, dies at age 89

Norm Voelliger liked Bettendorf and the Fourth of July so much that even after his time on the city council ended, he continued to come down to the city's street fest to help city officials hand out free ice cream.

"He loved the Fourth of July," Decker Ploehn, Bettendorf City Administrator, said.

Voelliger died Thursday, July 4, on the day he loved, at Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House, Bettendorf. He was 89.

Services were held Tuesday, July 9, at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport. Arrangements were handled by Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory, Rock Island.

For those who knew him, Voelliger was the consummate Bettendorfer. He lived his entire life in the city "and was a walking history book," said Richard Pokora, former pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Bettendorf, and a member of the Bettendorf Business Network.

"He could give you background about all the various buildings and people."

He also gave years of service to the city.

He was city treasurer, first ward alderman, alderman-at-large, chairman of the board of adjustment and a parks booster. His combined service on the council was 22 years and his service on the board of adjustment ended less than a year ago, Ploehn said.

Voelliger also served on the city's volunteer fire department for 39 years, beginning at age 17, and was assistant chief for 23 years.

"One of the first things I think of when I think of Norm is what a true gentleman he was," said Ann Hutchinson, Bettendorf mayor from 1988 to 2004.

"He always held himself, and conducted business, in a gentlemanly fashion.

When serving on the city council, "I could always count on him to be well-prepared, objective, fair and balanced. He talked to people, he met with constituents.

"And he always could find one more thing to do for Bettendorf. He really touched a lot of people."

One of Voelliger's history specialties was the Interstate 74 bridge.

He remembered construction of the first span, as his family had long owned a gasoline station on State Street near what became the base of the original bridge.

Voelliger watched as that first spidery arch was built in the 1930s. Before that, there was no link between Moline and Bettendorf.

When the second span was erected in the late '50s, the Voelligers lost their station, but Norm continued to document the changes.

"He had a whole slide show of the bridge," Ploehn said. "And he was so thrilled with the new bridge."

Voelliger worked at the family's rebuilt gasoline station until it was sold to the government in 1966 as part of overpass construction that made the bridge part of the interstate highway system.

He then became a real estate agent for Mel Foster and then an agent and sales manager for Prudential Life Insurance Col, retiring in 1991.

As for the Fourth of July, in the early years of the city's fireworks display, Voelliger was one of the people (volunteer firefighters) who, along with members of the Lions Club, actually lighted the fuses and shot the fireworks off, Ploehn said.

Four years ago, Voelliger served as grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade, riding in an open car, smiling and waving.

"His heart was always with Bettendorf," Ploehn said. "He just loved Bettendorf."

Voelliger is survived by his wife, Carol, and three sons.


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