Whiting resident Will Lehner, a member of the Bill Cook Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America since 1956, was recently inducted in the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) Hall of Fame.
Lehner, a native of St. Paul, Minn., is an active member of the conservation club, regularly helping out with its Annual Jamboree, Youth Conservation Day, Stream Improvement and Pulp Cut, just to name a few. Every year Lehner and his crew continue to cook hamburgers at the local Art in the Park event where all of the money raised is given to the IWLA National Endowment.
A World War II veteran, Lehner was serving on the U.S.S. Ward during the attack of Pearl Harbor as a fireman second class, an ammunition handler and cook. The U.S.S. Ward fired the first shot 70 minutes before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In December 1944, the U.S.S. Ward was sunk by Japanese fighters. Lehner was discharged in 1945.
After returning home from the war, he attended industrial arts school and went to work as a printer. He moved to the Stevens Point area in 1950, working for Valley Sales (now Spectra Print) and then for the Worth Company for more than 32 years.
He has served many years as a trustee for the village of Whiting on the Public Works and Parks, Building Committee; Board of Zoning; and Utilities Committees.
The village of Whiting commemorated his service by dedicating the boat landing below the McDill Dam as Lehner’s Landing in September 2010.
In 2002, Lehner was able to return to Hawaii and helped to try to locate the Japanese submarine that was sunk in 1941.
With the Bill Cook Chapter, Lehner has served on the following committees and positions at the Chapter, State and National Levels: chair of the Cooking Committee from 1967 to present; Bill Cook Chapter Board of Directors from 1969 to present; Wisconsin Division-Legislative Committee from 1970 to 2004; chapter vice president from 1972 to 1974 and 1979 to 1980;
Wisconsin Division West Region vice president from 1976 to 1978; chapter Rifle Range, Trap Range and Clubhouse Committee from 1978 to 1979; chapter president from 1981 to 1983; Wisconsin Division vice president from 1983 to 1985; Wisconsin Division president from 1985 to 1987 and 1988 to 1990;
Wisconsin Division director from 1987 to 2004; National IWLA director from 1990 to 2004; National IWLA Endowment Committee from 1996 to 2011; the National Convention Sight Selection Committee for 10 years; co-chair of the National IWLA Convention Committee in 1988; a life member of the Life Benefactor IWLA; and a member of the IWLA Million Dollar Club.
Over the years Lehner has received the following awards: the Bill Cook Chapter Service Award in 1974, the National IWLA Tobin Award in 1986, and the Bill Cook Chapter Conservationist of the Year in 2000.
He is also a lifetime member of the Pearl Harbor Survivor Association, a second vice commander with American Legion Post 6, and a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.