William Denny Weisgerber died peacefully, surrounded by loving family, on December 4, 2019. He was 89. Born in Bend, Oregon on May 5, 1930, Denny was the third of Sherman and Olive Weisgerber’s four children. With Boise, Idaho as the family’s home base, Denny grew up in small towns all across the Pacific Northwest, attending a dozen schools as the family traveled for his father’s construction jobs. Returning to settle in Boise for his high school years, Denny met the love the of his life, Marianne Tillery. Married for 68 years to his high school sweetheart, Denny built a truly extraordinary life of family, service to his community, and a unique commitment to a lifetime of connection with people and organizations where he served with energy, devotion, and inspiring leadership.
In February of 1949, Denny enlisted in the Marine Corps. In June 1950, he was assigned to train Marines bound for combat in Korea. Distinguishing himself by his excellent performance, he rose quickly to the rank of Staff Sergeant over the next two years. In July 1952 he shipped out to Korea as an assistant platoon sergeant, seeing intense combat in an area of hilly outposts known as “The Hook”. In October of 1952, Denny successfully led a patrol, under heavy fire, to take back an overrun outpost with hand grenades and small arms fire. While returning to their platoon, Denny discovered that one of his Marines was missing. He returned to the battlefield to bring his wounded brother down the treacherous slope, carrying him on his back. During the rescue, Denny was severely wounded by mortar fire, and he was evacuated to the hospital ship Repose, where his leg was amputated as a result of his wounds. For his leadership and inspiring personal courage, Denny was awarded the Navy Cross, our nation’s second highest award for valor in combat.
After a long recovery resulting in a medical retirement, Denny was forced to relinquish his dream of a career in the Marine Corps. However, he continued to serve Marines, both active duty and veterans, through his tireless involvement in the Marine Corps League, the Marine Corps Reserve, and the 1st Marine Division Association. He volunteered throughout his life as a peer counselor for new amputees and PTSD patients at the VA Hospital, and never missed an opportunity to be of service or support to Marines and their families. In January 2012, in recognition of a lifetime of service and achievement, The Secretary of the Navy selected Denny for honorary promotion to the rank of Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.
His great passions were his family, the Marine Corps, his beloved community of Milpitas, and the relationships forged in his career with State Farm Insurance.
A highly successful agent and manager with State Farm, Denny had an esteemed personal career, but also one that was uniquely marked by lifelong friendships that grew from his devoted mentorship of new agents who became like family to him.
In 1956, Denny and Marianne and their young family put down roots in the newly chartered city of Milpitas, the community he would come to love and serve for the rest of his life. When San Jose attempted to annex Milpitas in 1961, Denny was a key leader in the grass roots group opposing the annexation. The group launched a campaign to maintain the autonomy and independence of the city of Milpitas, presenting their case door to door in conversations with their fellow citizens. The result was an overwhelming mandate by voters to reject the annexation and maintain the unique identity of Milpitas.
This was the beginning of a lifelong devotion to his community. He served 12 years as a city councilman, including three terms as mayor, and poured his boundless energy into ongoing service through countless special projects, and as commissioner for organizations benefiting veterans, seniors, and young people, literally until the day he died.
Denny loved being a member of Rotary International for 55 years, where he served two terms as Milpitas Rotary Club President, and District 5170 Governor from 1999-2000.
He touched the lives of everyone he met with his inspiring leadership, his loyalty, his commitment to service, his huge heart, and the value he placed on each person who came into his life. Denny and Marianne loved the life that they built together, wholeheartedly building a treasured legacy with each member of their family, honoring and supporting those serving in the military, mentoring and encouraging young people with their love and support, avidly following their beloved 49ers for over 48 years, building a successful business rich with valued relationships, never missing an opportunity to be of service or to build something positive. They were uniquely a team, enjoying all of life together,
Undergirding all of his passions and varied interests was Denny’s family, truly his great joy. He is survived by his daughter Pam Eaves (John), his son Bill Weisgerber (Gina), his five grandchildren Elizabeth Bellucci (Matt), Brian Eaves (Alana), Lisa McLaughlin (Michael), Megan Maitia (Robert), and David Weisgerber (Stacy), his daughter-in-law Vickie Weisgerber, and seven great grandchildren – Penelope, Eli, and Sam Bellucci, Donovan and Ariana McLaughlin, Beau Maitia, and Leo Weisgerber.
A private family service was held this past weekend, and a Celebration of Life honoring Denny Weisgerber will take place on Sunday, January 26 at 1:30 pm at the Milpitas Community Center, 457 E. Calaveras Blvd, Milpitas.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation in Denny’s name to The Marine Corps League, – PO Box 1835, Merrifield VA 22116-8035, Spartan Athletics Fund – One Washington Square, San Jose CA 95192-0257, Bronco Athletic Association, Boise State University – 1910 University Drive, Boise ID 83705, or to your favorite charity.