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1917 - 2014

William A. Dafoe, M.D. (S 1947)

William Alfred Dafoe, 97, devoted husband, father, and physician, died on November 21, in Pacific Palisades, Calif., after a brief illness, while on an extended visit with his son Donald’s family. William Dafoe was born on July 21, 1917 in Wautoma, Wis., the youngest of seven children and the only son. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard Medical School. While in medical school, he met his wife, Muriel, a nursing student at the time, and the young married couple later moved to Rochester, Minnesota, where Dr. Dafoe got advanced surgical training at the Mayo Clinic.

In 1947, the Dafoes and their two young daughters settled in Appleton. Six more children would eventually come along. Over the next decade or so, every family home movie would feature the very same event: bringing home the new baby.

Dr. Dafoe spent the next forty years as a beloved doctor to many families in the greater Appleton area. He was highly trained as a surgeon, but to his patients, he was their “family doctor.” He loved his work and his patients. He made house calls; put in long hours, seven days a week; took time to “visit” with his patients about life in general and fishing in particular; and, as was customary for some Appleton doctors in the 1950s, charged $7 for an office visit.

His family was his greatest joy, beginning with his wife, Muriel. She worked by his side in his office as his nurse for many years, enjoying the privilege of helping to care for patients, while raising eight kids in a household where fun was more important than apple pie order. Dr. Dafoe made time with his kids a special and prized occasion. A trip to buy apple cider in the fall or swim at Silver Lake in Wild Rose was as exciting as a trip to Disney World. Even the invitation to ride with him to the hospital was special. (He kept malted milk balls in the ashtray as an additional attraction.) He loved music, dancing, fishing, and the natural beauty of rural Wisconsin.

He and his wife spent many happy and healthy years in Orlando, Florida, where they retired in order to be closer to two daughters, seven grandchildren, and eventually eight great-grandchildren in the area. They were active members of the Orlando Community Church for many years.

He leaves his loving children Barbara (Ralph) Whitehead, Northampton, Mass; Nancy (John) Christiansen, Orlando, Fla; Diane (Daniel} Fredrickson, Runnemede, N.J.: Donald (Sahara) Dafoe, Marina Del Rey, Calif.; Richard Dafoe, Dallas, Texas; Jane (Dick) Lambie, Moundsville, W.Va; Willem (Giada) Dafoe, Rome, Italy and New York City; and Sarah (David) Holbrook, Orlando, Fla; 24 grandchildren; and 19 great-grandchildren. His wife Muriel and his granddaughter, Faye Marie Fredrickson, preceded him in death.

A memorial service will be held in Orlando.

Published in Appleton Post-Crescent on Nov. 28, 2014.

Obituary courtesy of

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