Elwin “Bill” Day

Elwin (“Bill”) Day was a “hard-hittin’ guard” on the 1925 undefeated football team and also participated in track at VHS.

After high school, Bill became a carpenter/contractor in Villisca. He built or remodeled many homes in the area. In the 1930s, he was the foreman on a WPA crew who built the Villisca swimming pool and the stone wall around the Villisca cemetery.

Bill was a member of the local Army National Guard unit, Company F, when in 1941 the unit was called into action in World War II. In February of 1943, he was captured by enemy soldiers in Tunisia, Africa. He spent the next 27 months in several prisoner of war camps in Italy and Germany until they were liberated, in May of 1945. During his imprisonment, Bill was a strong leader of his men. Because he was in charge of his barracks, he was punished for any infractions by his men but he never complained. On one occasion, the German captors ordered his men to turn over their uniforms. Bill knew that the Germans would use the uniforms to disguise themselves to infiltrate American troops. So instead, Bill reportedly ordered his men to give him their uniforms, which he then piled outside and burned. For this, he was severely punished.

After returning to America, Bill continued his carpenter/contractor work in Villisca. He remained in the National Guard and served on the Park Board, among other community roles. He was a quiet, unassuming man who was very generous, usually helping others behind the scenes. Although Bill and his wife, Lillian, had no children, he loved kids. If a young athlete couldn’t afford the proper shoes or equipment, Bill would quietly pay for it. During 1946-47, there was no bus to take the basketball team to games so Bill drove the starting five players to every game in his own car. After the games, they would always stop for food, which Bill said the school was buying. They later learned that Bill paid all those expenses personally. It was well known among local athletes that if they won a ball game, they could order a malt at the drug store and it would be charged to Bill.

Bill Day, a 2017 member of the Villisca Bluejay Hall of Fame, died in 1978.