Willy "Bill" Bohlmann Jr. '50 November 16, 2020 3:11 PM updated: November 16, 2020 3:48 PM
Willy Frank (Bill) Bohlmann, Jr ‘50
July 5, 1927 - November 9, 2020
Willy Frank (Bill) Bohlmann, Jr. '50, age 93, went to be with our Lord on November 9, 2020. He was born July, 5, 1927 in Schulenburg, Texas.
Willy Bohlmann received his bachelor’s ('50) and master’s ('51) degrees in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M. He began his 41-year career with ExxonMobil affiliate companies in 1951. Bill married the girl-next door, Mildred Klesel, on October 25, 1952.
In 1963 Bohlmann supervised one of the first floating drilling operations of a well in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1964 this pioneer joined the step-off team of Esso Exploration, Inc and moved to Australia with Mildred and their two sons, Stephen and Philip. He supervised drilling the first offshore well, using a floater, in the Bass Straits. Thus started a 29-year career of managing exploratory offshore floating drilling operations in 23 countries. Bill and Mildred together lived in 12 of these countries.
His career culminated in 1992 in China, as President and General Manager of Esso China Ltd. He holds six U.S. and foreign patents for offshore drilling and production technologies.
Dual careers in the military and the engineering fields mark Willy Bohlmann’s commitment to service. He retired in 1980 as Colonel from the U.S. Army Reserve following 34 years of distinguished service.
After finishing his fish year at Texas A&M in 1946, he was drafted in the U.S. Army and served with the HQ XXIV Corps occupation forces in Korea, rising to the rank of staff sergeant. In 1947 he transferred to the Texas National Guard and returned to A&M. He commanded the 6th Regiment and was a member of B-Vets and Ross Volunteers. As a senior he was President of American Society of Civil Engineers, a recipient of Tau Beta Pi membership and was awarded the Engineer Faculty Achievement Award.
Following completion of his master’s degree, Bohlmann continued his service with the Texas and Louisiana National Guard and U.S. Army reserves. He served in numerous command and staff assignments, including exchange assignments with the Royal Australian Forces.
Bohlmann organized the first-ever Aggie Muster in China in 1984. His personal awards include Eagle Scout, the Legion of Merit in 1980, first-ever “Model Worker Award” from the People’s Republic of China in 1992, and Texas A&M’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1995. In 2000, he was one of the first 18 to receive the Civil Engineering department’s Distinguished Graduate Award and in 2002 he was inducted into the Corps of Cadets Texas A&M Corps Hall of Honor.
The Schulenburg natives returned home in 1992. In retirement, Bill enthusiastically changed from full-time energy executive to shoulder-to-shoulder community servant, happily working as a member, and often serving as a leader of these organizations.
He maintained a full-time schedule of activities with the VFW, American Legion and Lions Club to serve the Schulenburg community. Bill served six years as a member of the Fayette County Appraisal District Review Board, provided engineering assistance in construction of Texas Czech Heritage Cultural Center and was a member of Fayette County Historical Commission.
Always with a smile on his face, Bill was the first to arrive and the last to leave, enjoying every event and time spent visiting with new and familiar faces alike.
He was a 72-year member of Lyons Lodge #195 and served twice as Lodge Master. In 2007, while Lodge Master, Bohlmann was responsible for compiling "The History of Lyons Lodge 1857-2007." Based on this document, Lyons Lodge #195 was awarded a Texas Historical Commission Marker. This historical marker was dedicated during the 150th anniversary celebration in 2007. Bohlmann was a 50-year member of The Scottish Rite and Arabia Shriners. He also served as Master of Weimar Masonic Lodge #423 and as a Full Member of the Texas Lodge of Research. For all his fraternal and civic efforts, Bohlmann earned the Scottish Rite 33rd degree Inspector General honorary.
His avocation was forestry and ranching -- he loved the land. An absentee landowner, pine tree farming became his passion. He was mentored by his high school Ag teacher, Lloyd Henderson '30, who also introduced him to the Texas A&M campus.
In 1995 when Bohlmann was chosen as a Distinguished Alumnus he wrote:
“From the time I set foot on campus in May 1945, it was the strong esprit de corps that made an impact. This spirit gave me a feeling of camaraderie among class members and fellow students. Being an Aggie opened doors to other Aggies in a worldwide network. It is a good feeling to be a part of the world’s largest fraternity.” Willy was truly a "dyed-in-the-wool" Aggie.
Bill, Mildred, Stephen and Philip's travels and life’s adventures were well documented. His amateur photographer hobby, which started in high school, resulted in hundreds of photo albums spanning five decades. Anyone who knew Bill knew they were going to have their picture taken by or with Bill. And if you were an Aggie, there would always be a second photo with a thumbs up “Gig ‘em.”
Funeral services for Bohlmann will be held in Schulenburg, TX on Saturday, November 21, at 11:00am. Visitation at St Rose of Lima Catholic Church will begin at 09:00 am, Saturday, with entombment in St Rose of Lima Catholic Mausoleum. Full military honors will be conducted at the cemetery by the Schulenburg American Legion.
Willy was preceded in death by his parents, Willy and Leona (Bruns) Bohlmann and sister, Mona Ewing Wendtland. He was also preceded by his maternal grandfather, Charles Bruns (A&M Class of 1896), who began the Aggie family legacy.
Bill was a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He brightened every room, and his friends and family will miss him deeply. Bill is survived by his wife of 68 years, Mildred Klesel Bohlmann; his sons, Stephen Bohlmann '76 and Philip Bohlmann '76; his grandchildren, Travis Bohlmann ‘02, Audrey '03 (Brian ‘03) Schlorholtz, Clayton ’05 (Jessica ‘05) Bohlmann, Sebastian Bohlmann, Santiago Bohlmann; and four great-grandchildren, Carly and Kyle Reed Bohlmann and Ella and Evan Schlorholtz.