Bolin well remembered by friends and neighbors

TRACY — Hundreds of southwest Minnesota residents are remembering Bill Bolin as a teacher, coach, historian, naturalist and friend.

Bolin died Sunday at Our House Hospice in Slayton. He was 82.

“He always thought of what was best for student and families,” Tracy school administrator Chad Anderson said.

Anderson worked with Bolin on several school committees after Bolin retired. He considers him a role model for learning about both the education process and the Tracy district.

“He never had a bad word to say about anyone. I’m lucky to have known him and learned from him,” he said.

Bolin grew up in Slayton, where he was active in football, basketball, baseball, speech, school plays, and the school paper. He later studied journalism at Macalester College in the Twin Cities while also playing basketball and baseball. He transferred to Mankato State University to earn degrees in history, English and physical education.

He was employed as Slayton’s community education director starting in 1954 before becoming a history teacher in Tracy in 1956. He retired in 1997.

Two of his capstone projects as an educator involved promoting a 19th century buffalo skull that was fished out of of channel at Lake Shetek and a project in which high school students recognized Tracy area veterans.

Nadine (Brandt) Weedman, currently a middle school teacher in Marshall, met Bolin in 1995 when her family moved to Tracy. She became a multi-sport high school athlete and remembers Bolin as someone who motivated her to do her best.

“He was a very down-to-earth, caring person,” Weedman said. “He and my dad became instant friends. He welcomed us to Tracy and was very supportive.”

She added that Bolin had a way of reaching out to students with all kinds of interests, including athletics, history, the outdoors and many other pastimes.

“He had so many passions,” she said. “He had a way of sharing all of them with people. It helped to bring me and other students out of our comfort shells and to make us better people.”

Bolin is also well-known for his work at Lake Shetek State Park. In a 17-year run as the park naturalist, he developed interpretive programs that included the former Koch Cabin, a landmark that was moved into the park area from where it stood during the historic Dakota Conflict in 1862.

He served as a coordinator for the Shetek Revisited project, which has brought family members of Shetek settlers and Dakota residents together in a spirit of friendship for picnics and fellowship.