Bill von Rutenberg

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MTT News's picture

SAVANNAH, GA/MADISON–William E. “Bill” von Rutenberg passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah Georgia on Jan. 12, 2019 after a brief illness. He was just a few weeks shy of his 91st birthday. He is survived by his wife, Jane von Rutenberg, her son Jim Godron, and daughter Linda (Allan) Julliard (children Walker and Hayden), and sons Bill (Debbie) von Rutenberg (Kimberly), Jack (Tammy) von Rutenberg (children Jeremy, Jordan, Marina), and Robert (Kris Kalb) von Rutenberg. He was preceded in death by his wife Betty von Rutenberg, his grandson Ryan von Rutenberg, and his parents William E. von Rutenberg, Sr. and Jeanette (Moe) von Rutenberg. 

Bill was passionate about the water (both inland lakes and the oceans) and family. He was a member of the Madison Power Squadron and served as Commodore in 1966 and 1968. He was also a member of the Mendota Yacht Club and raced “C” and “E” scows for many years. During his years in Florida he was a member of the Coral Ridge Yacht Club. Due to his active, healthy lifestyle both during his working years and the last 22 years in retirement, he was able to enjoy living in his own home until his passing. He and Jane were fortunate enough to enjoy travel, tennis, golfing, sailing, fishing, and boating up until recently.

Bill was born in Chicago and went into the Marine Corps upon graduation from high school. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Corporal on Aug. 13, 1948. After his service to our country he enrolled at UW-Madison where he played football and was on the 1952 Rose Bowl team. It was at the UW that he met a local girl named Betty Neesvig who would become his wife.

Bill and Betty were both working at Neesvig’s Meats after graduation when they decided to pursue the “American Dream” of owning their own business. In 1961 they bought an eight stool, hamburger joint just off the Capitol Square called the Nibble Nook. Continuing their dream, they sold the Nibble Nook and purchased Burke’s Supper Club in 1966. They renamed their new business The Mariners Inn and became famous for their steaks, seafood and legendary hash browns. The duo would become local hospitality icons as they and their three sons, expanded von Rutenberg Ventures to also include Nau-Ti-Gal, Captain Bill’s, Betty Lou Cruises, and Westport Marine.

In spite of the demands of the restaurant business, Bill valued his time with his wife and kids and always made time for attending school and sporting events and family time at home. His athletic background from playing sports and his Physical Education and Coaching major in college made it natural for him to organize the neighborhood softball and football games and participate in field days at school. Additionally, he shared his love of all things nautical with his family, through endless hours of time on the water.

Bill will be missed but his legacy with water related organizations and the hospitality industry will certainly live on.

A celebration of Bill’s life will be held at The Mariners Inn, 5339 Lighthouse Bay Drive, on March 10. A buffet lunch will be provided from 12-3 p.m. with a short program at 2 p.m. Please come and share any memories you may have of Bill von Rutenberg with his family.

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