Obituaries in Milwaukee, WI | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (2024)

Sturgeon Bay businessman and yachtsman, William “Bill” J. Schoendorf, sailed from this earth Tuesday, June 18, 2024.

Bill was born June 1, 1927 in Milwaukee, the son of the late Joseph and Katherine (Patterson) Schoendorf. He attended Bay View High School but decided to enlist with the U.S. Navy during WWII. Following his military service, Bill furthered his education by entering Milwaukee Business School. On September 29, 1952, he married Lois Mary Bolz. She preceded him in death on June 1, 2004.

In 1953, he would buy Island Yachts in Milwaukee where he built wooden boats. When fiberglass began taking hold in boat manufacturing, the company turned to primarily sales of boats. During these years, Island Yachts became the largest Grand Banks dealer in the United States. Bill moved to Sturgeon Bay in 1979 when he purchased Baudhuin Yacht Works. He expanded the yard and added the Ocean Alexander Yacht line, a mainstay for Sturgeon Bay Yacht Harbor for years. In August of 2004, Bill sold Sturgeon Bay Yacht Harbor, retiring at age 77. He said, “I’ve really loved the marine business-my vocation has been my passion, and it’s been good to me”.

At age 13, Bill participated in his first Chicago to Mackinac race, the youngest person to make the grueling 333-mile trek. He would go on to win that race eight times and after 37 Mackinacs, he retired from racing in 1994.

Bill was an amazing, generous and creative person with a talent for storytelling. He was a member of the Southshore Yacht Club, Milwaukee Yacht Club, and Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club. In 2022, at age 95, he was awarded the Mariner of the Year from Door County Maritime Museum.

Family members include his three children, Claudia (Earl) Thedens of Superior, WI, Beth Shelly of Dallas, TX, Chris Schoendorf of Sturgeon Bay; two grandchildren, Matthew and Alexander; dear friend, Margaret Johanson of Sturgeon Bay; sister, Mary Koehler of Mequon; sister-in-law, Sally Schoendorf of Milwaukee; nieces and nephews.

Preceding him in death were his parents, Joseph and Katherine Schoendorf; wife, Lois; two brothers, Tom and Joe III Schoendorf; and grandson, Alexander Shelly.

A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, July 13, 2024 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club. He was laid to rest in the St. Joseph Cemetery Mausoleum beside his wife, Lois.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Door County Maritime Museum ( in Bill’s memory.

Huehns Funeral Home, Inc. in Sturgeon Bay is assisting the Schoendorf family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Bill may be shared with his family through his tribute page at

Posted online on June 25, 2024

Published in Green Bay Press Gazette

Obituaries in Milwaukee, WI | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (2024)
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