Businessman, philanthropist dies: Yetzer involved in many projects that helped shape face of Waconia

By Staff Reports

The community has lost one of its most beloved members with the death of Wilfred “Will” Yetzer on July 29. He was 99.

If you look around present-day Waconia, there are few things that Yetzer did not have a hand in shaping – from the hospital to the library to the golf course, Yetzer was there, pouring time, talent and money into creating a thriving community on Lake Waconia.

But Yetzer was not one to boast about his impact on the community, instead humbly deflecting praise onto those around him.

“I’ve done what I’ve done as a person because I love Waconia and Waconia has been good to me,” Yetzer said after being nominated for the Waconia-West Carver Rotary’s Service Above Self award in 2015, an award he only agreed to accept if he could discuss the contributions he made as part of a group of citizens working to make Waconia a better place to live. “Doing things with a group of people, that’s important to let other people know. If they can only find one group of people they can work with, together they can accomplish great things for Waconia.”

Yetzer was born in a log house in Waconia, one of eight children, and was raised by his mother. Except for his time overseas in World War II, he never really left the community of his birth.

Yetzer worked at the funeral home and home furnishings store in Waconia before being drafted into the war effort in 1942. During the war, Yetzer served as medic and technician in the European Theater, where he assisted doctors in treating injured soldiers, sometimes spending as many as 18 hours a day treating the injured and performing amputations. He returned to the United States in November 1945, after the war’s end.

It was on his return to Waconia that he threw himself into community service, helping lead the charge on everything from getting the hospital built to starting Island View Golf Club. Yetzer also was a charter member of the Lions, on the Waconia Chamber, member of the Knights of Columbus, VFW, and American Legion.

A mass of Christian burial will be held on Thursday, Aug. 4, at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Waconia. Visitation will be on Wednesday, Aug. 3, from 4 to 8 p.m. with a prayer service at 8 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Visitation will also be two hours prior to the mass on Thursday.
See next week’s Patriot for memories that family and friends shared of Yetzer.