William Donald Royce, Jr., 70, of Henderson, Nevada, formerly of the LaHarpe and Nauvoo areas, passed away Thanksgiving morning, November 25, 2021, at his home.
Cremation rites have been accorded. A memorial service with military rites will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, March 12, 2022, at Esterdahl Mortuary & Crematory, Ltd., Moline, Illinois, with a visitation one hour prior to services. A livestream of the service can be found on Bill’s obituary page at www.esterdahl.com (a link will appear at the bottom of the website on the day of the service). In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Lion Habitat Ranch, 382 Bruner Avenue, Henderson, NV 89044 (https://lionhabitatranch.org/ ) or to Our Daily Bread Ministries, PO Box 2222, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501 (https://donations.ourdailybread.org/gtd121.html?motivation=GTD121)
Bill was born on October 9, 1951, in Carthage, Illinois, the eldest son of William Donald, Sr., and Vera Henrietta Jacobs Royce. He was a 1969 graduate of Glenbard East High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. He attended the University of Dubuque in Iowa for two years, finishing his bachelor’s degree in business administration at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. He married Michaela Ollet on December 22, 1994, in Naples, Italy. He joined the United States Navy in 1983, retiring after 20 years of honorable service in 2003. He rose to the rank of E6/Storekeeper First Class. Duty Stations included Virginia Beach, VA; USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in Bremerton, WA; Misawa, Japan; Naples, Italy; Rota, Spain; Washington DC and USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) in Baltimore, MD. Awards while on active duty included the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (4 times), Navy Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal (5 times), National Defense Service Medal (twice), Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon (9 times), Meritorious Unit Commendation, Coast Guard Unit Commendation, Expert Rifleman Medal, Kuwait Liberation, and Southwest Asia Service Medal (with Bronze Star). Bill was on the USS Nimitz when it deployed to support Operation Desert Storm in 1991. During 9/11, he was stationed at the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington DC. He was put in command of all fallen comrade’s personal effects to be turned over to the next of kin. He often said meeting with those families was one of the hardest tasks he performed as a military person. After Bill retired from the military, he worked for General Dynamics from 2003-2005 as Senior Field Service Technician. Then from 2005-2013 he worked for the Federal Civilian Service in the Navy Engineering Logistics Office as Supervisor Financial Management Analyst where he was awarded the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
Survivors include his wife, siblings, Patricia Royce Shoemaker and James Royce, Sr. (Judy), sisters-in-law Lori Richards Royce and Jessica Ollet, brothers-in-law Nathaniel Ollet, Lemuel Ollet and Arthimes Ollet, parents-in-law Felino and Nelda Ollet, nieces Amanda Shoemaker, April Royce, Ilyh Cacerez, Aimee Ollet, Armie Ollet, Ella Ollet and Bella Ollet, nephews Dennis Royce Jr., Andrew Royce, William Jacob (Jake) Royce, James Royce, Jr., Hyam Cacerez and Peyton Ollet, and many great-nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his father, mother and younger brother Dennis.
The Royce family was on the move throughout Bill’s childhood and he grew up with his three siblings traveling the United States. The family made their homes in several cities, in several states including Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin. Joining the Navy and being relocated often was not new to him as it had been a part of his entire life. And of course, he had the Royce sense of humor. Bill shared often that he took typing in high school to get close to the girls. When asked how he was doing, he would always answer ‘still handsome’ or ‘muy guapo’! Of his siblings, Bill was the more quiet and reserved of the four. He was his family’s go-to adviser in so many things after his father passed. He had a brilliant mind and was a deep thinker, not to be rushed into sharing his ideas or opinions. Like his father, he was keenly aware of what was happening around him, but chose to remain that quiet observer until he was ready to engage in any conversations or antics. He found his soulmate Michaela when they were both stationed in Italy during their service in the US Navy. What a great match they made, always together, enjoying each new Naval duty station as an adventure and doting on all of the fur babies they loved so much. Retirement landed them in Henderson, NV outside of Las Vegas, which then became the Royce family’s destination for many visits. Bill loved to have a house full of family at “Casa de los Royce” as often as possible, poolside with a beverage and at least one trip to the Strip!
Bill loved his family, most especially his father and mother, having worked for many years by their side in the family grocery business. As a husband, he was devoted to Michaela in every aspect. As a brother, he was always watching out for his siblings, even though often from far away. As an uncle, his nieces and nephews had a man who would be there for them at any moment. As a naval leader, he was well respected by all who knew and worked for and with him. And as a man, he loved his country as much as his family.