William Henry Naumann
1930 - 2020
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William (Bill) Henry Naumann of Pleasant Hill, TN and formerly of Naperville, IL, died August 2nd, 2020. He was born on December 16th, 1930 in Green Springs, Ohio to Mary Knipp Naumann and Lewis H. Naumann. An older sister, Miriam Robbins, died in 1989. His younger sister, Mary Kay (Dave) Fraser, survives him.

Bill was a teacher all his life, helping many young people find their life's calling. He was a skilled listener, stimulating many with probing, thoughtful questions. Everyone who knew Bill has a positive story about him. With degrees from Asbury University (BA), Kent State (MA), Oberlin College (BD), and Yale University (MA & PhD), he taught in the public schools before starting his 30 year career as Professor of Religion at North Central College (NCC) in Naperville, IL. Like his father, grandfather, and great grandfather, he became ordained in the EUB Church (United Methodist Church). Music was an important part of Bill's life, playing cornet, French horn, euphonium, and handbells. 

In May 1950, Bill married Marcene Julian of Canton, Ohio. Marcene was a teacher as well, and shared Bill's faith. They raised four children until her untimely death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 37. Following this tragedy, Bill and his four children became part of a larger family when Bill married Herbie (Helen) Gamertsfelder Barrett in August 1968. Herbie heroically left her Registrar's job at the college to become mother to all eight children. 

Combining two families created unusual challenges and rewards. Herbie's home on North Wright Street in Naperville was reconfigured to allow each child to have their own bedroom. Dinnertime often resembled a school cafeteria with chief cook, Herbie, cranking out huge meals for hungry athletes.

That first year of marriage took the family to Montreal for Bill's sabbatical study at McGill University and then to Europe and Asia for his research in Islamic studies. Life abroad enabled the family to learn from cultures unlike their own, sensitized them to international relations and produced growing tolerance. As the children grew and sought their own careers and lives in Illinois as well as in far flung states including Hawaii, California, Texas, Michigan, and Vermont, Bill concentrated on his career at North Central College and Herbie returned to NCC as an art instructor. They spent the last 4 years of their careers in Fukuoka, Japan, where Bill taught American and British Studies at Fukuoka Jo Gakuin College and Herbie continued to produce art and work on her already fairly fluent Japanese.

Bill and Herbie retired to The Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill, TN in 2001 where they joined Pleasant Hill Community Church, United Church of Christ. They were active community members and excellent role models living out their values and leading by example. Bill supported peace through protest, gave lectures on world religions and international concerns, and worked to support environmental causes important to their area of Tennessee. It is not just anyone who at 80 years old makes the evening news for activism on the street corners in Nashville.

Bill leaves behind his wife, Herbie, their 8 children Gary (Jan) Barrett, Rex (Kathy) Barrett, Bill (Cheryl) Naumann Jr., Scott (Jan) Barrett, Terry (Ann) Naumann, Teri (Bud) Barrett Carlson, Nancy (Breck) Naumann Hanson, and Jeff (Diane) Naumann, 20 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren, a sister, 8 nieces and nephews and 17 great nieces and nephews. The family is considering a Zoom funeral service and eventually a post-Covid service in either Pleasant Hill, Naperville, or both. If you would like to remember Bill with a donation, please consider donating to the Naumann-Gamertsfelder Scholarship Fund at North Central College, 30 North Brainard St, Naperville, Illinois, 60540, Pleasant Hill Community Church, United Church of Christ, Pleasant Hill, TN 38578, or to The Uplands Village at Pleasant Hill, TN. 


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Published in Naperville Sun on Aug. 9, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
October 18, 2020
I just learned about Bill's untimely death and I am grieving. So many memories, such a mensch! I recall that Bill was on the search committee when I was hired, and since it was the very first faculty-student search Bill was looking to me, the candidate, for some guidance. I was the first person interviewed and as we closed, I reminded him that he can't ask any other candidate what he had not asked me."Good point. I will have to remember that." That was Bill insuring fairness.

He coaxed me into team teaching a course on Judaism. One year we had a Passove Seder at the Navakas home. I will never forget the image of Bill's face as he took way too much horseradish and swallowed. Truly a beet red moment! Similarly, we took a group of students to Israel on a ten-day trip. Between the two of us, I don't think we missed any important Biblical history moments.

Bill was a wise counselor, always ready to listen, always trying to walk in another person's shoes in order to understand the problem, and always seeking reconciliation. There can be little doubt that he was a gentle giant. I can recall only one time during a faculty meeting when Bill's voice rose in faux anger. Then he caught himself and felt embarrassed.

My deepest sympathy to Herbie and all the children. Bill's legacy lives in all of you. May his memory be for a blessing.
David Frolick
August 21, 2020
Knowing William Naumann was always a pleasure, whether he was Dr. Naumann at NCC, or Bill Naumann with the Naperville Band. His travel adventures were always interesting to hear about, too. I rcall him telling about being in some middle- or far-eastern country, where some man was evidently trying to put the evil eye on him. Dr. Naumann looked intently at him, then solemnly shook his finger at him. The man slunk away. I'll always associate him with the power of that silent professorial reprimand.
Sarah Cole
August 12, 2020
I met Bill and Herbie In Naperville in the 1980's through Sally Kinney Wakasugi. But I really got to know them well at the Uplands retirement community where I would come to visit my parents twice a year. Bill and Herbie frequently housed me during those visits. After my parents died, I had asked Herbie and Bill if they would be my "adopted" parents... an honor they took very seriously! I miss Bill very much!
I wrote this haiku in Bill's honor.
In Memory
For Bill Naumann

gentle kind spirit
favorite adopted dad
serious honor

extend family
adopted daughter status
love and acceptance

pensive discussions
share quiet morning breakfast
deepen bonds o’er time

communion of saints
add euphonium player
heaven’s ensemble
Rebecca Braun Ralston
August 11, 2020
Prayers as you mourn Bill’s passing but celebrate his life. I remember when my family moved to Naperville and my father began to teach at NCC with Mr Nauman. You welcomed us and I have many fond memories of Bill and the family. Peace, Janet
Janet Mueller Eifler
August 10, 2020
He was a person who emulated Jesus; in his acceptance of others, putting their needs first, spreading quietly effective kindness and peace to all. I will never forget you, Bill❣Rock on in the Heavenly Orchestra
Sally Kinney Wakasugi
August 10, 2020
I knew Bill for the many years we were both faculty members at NCC. He was one of the kindest people I have ever known. His life was a blessing and his death a loss to all who were enriched by knowing him.
Judy Walters
August 10, 2020
Dr. Naumann was an excellent Professor. He taught religion from the Bible and his heart.
Dan Satre NCC class of 1965
August 10, 2020
Very sorry to hear about Bill. I always admired your wonderful family. God Bless Bill and y'all.
Tim Drendel
August 9, 2020
So thankful for this life

It is a blessing to have great memories of Bill and the rest of the Naumann family. My father Dwight Knipp always spoke so highly of his cousin. Always difficult to lose a loved one. My sympathies.
Brenda Knipp
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