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Stephen I. Willner, 56

Stephen Ivan "Tube" Willner, age 56, of River Falls, Wis., died unexpectedly at his home on Monday, July 10.

He was born on March 18, 1961, in St. Paul, Minn., to Lee and Mary Ann (Nohner) Willner. He graduated from Rosemount High School in 1979, and graduated from Dakota County Technical College with a degree in heavy equipment in 1982. Tube has worked for the Rosemount School District, ISD196, since 1979.

Steve was involved in the River Falls community through the Pierce County Livestock Committee and the Swine Project Leader for Town and County 4-H for many years. No matter what he was doing, he was always there to help anyone who asked. With such a big heart, it did not matter if it was a cow who escaped a fence or a vehicle/tractor broken down, he was always there.

His daughters, grandchildren, and adopted sons (yes that is you O'Leary boys) meant the world to Steve. Finding time to get together with the family was never a problem. When a family event was planned, you could expect him to be there. Family and friends where his world. Many of his daughters' friends and friend's children were like his own. He never stopped looking over everyone and anyone he could.

With such a drive to work, Steve was always working on a project; many which are half finished. In the last 35 years, very rarely did anyone see Steve out of his work uniform. He loved his job at ISD196 and his fellow mechanics, bus drivers, chaperons, and office personnel.

Farming was one of his passions. There was always an array of animals on the farm including pigs, cattle, ducks, chickens, turkeys, and just about any other stray. If he wasnt helping someone, working on his projects, or on the farm with the animals, he was Muskie fishing or pheasant hunting with his favorite yellow lab, Harley. Man's best friend definitely described Harley. He was Steve's 120-pound lap dog until the day he died.

A beloved father, grandfather, friend, brother, uncle, son, and coworker, Steve (aka Tube) is loved and greatly missed.

He was preceded in death by his father, Lee Willner; and his grandparents.

Steve is survived by his daughters, Bailey Willner (Jeremy Page), Sami Willner, Jessica Brown, and MariAnn Toombs (Kacey Kamara); grandchildren, Madysen Brown, Jessie Brown, MacKenzie Brown, Addilynn Brown, and David Kohls; his mother, Mary Ann Willner; lifelong friend, Amy Willner; siblings, John (Kiz) Willner, Lee (Kim) Willner, Judy Willner; mother-in-law, Barbara Linkert; many other relatives and dear friends.

A funeral service for Stephen was held 11 a.m. on Friday, July 14, at OConnell-Benedict Funeral Home (Cashman Hill), 225 South Third Street, River Falls, WI. Visitation was from 4-8 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, at the funeral home and 1 hour prior to the service on Friday. Private interment will be in Greenwood Cemetery, River Falls, Wis.

O'Connell-Benedict Funeral Home (Cashman Hill) of River Falls, Wis., is assisting the family.