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Obituary for William J. Little, Jr., MD

Dr. William J. Little, Jr. passed away on Feb. 28, 2023, at Primrose Retirement Community in Mount Pleasant. He was born in Chicago on Oct. 19, 1921, the son of William J. Little, Sr. and Maude (née Kluber) Little.

When Bill was in grade school, the family moved to Racine. He graduated from Horlick High School in January 1939. He initially enrolled at the University of Wisconsin Extension in Milwaukee, then transferred to Madison where he completed his premedical curriculum in two and a half years and enrolled in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. 

Dr. William J. Little, Jr.
Dr. William J. Little, Jr.

Because of the war, medical school was compressed to about 3 years, and he graduated with his MD in 1944. Bill completed a rotating internship at Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago and an internal medicine residency at Wayne County General Hospital followed by a cardiovascular fellowship at the University of Michigan.

During his residency he met Dorothy Kraudelt, a nurse; they married on June 18, 1949. Bill and Dorothy relocated to Wisconsin where he worked at the state TB (tuberculosis) sanitarium. They moved again to Pennsylvania where Bill served two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was stationed at the TB hospital near Valley Forge where he treated soldiers who contracted the disease in Korea.

In 1954, the family returned to Racine. Bill opened an internal medicine practice and worked at the TB hospitals in Racine and Kenosha. He was board certified in internal medicine and pulmonology. He became the medical director of respiratory care and pulmonary function laboratories at St. Luke’s and St. Mary’s hospitals. He was president of the Wisconsin Thoracic Society for two years in the 1980s.

Bill was dedicated to his family and the well-being of his patients. Everyone enjoyed his dry sense of humor. He was a faithful member of the First Presbyterian Church of Racine and an avid golfer. Bill and Dorothy enjoyed attending the theater, and symphony orchestras, and traveling to six continents.

After retiring from his practice in 1989 Bill found he needed more than golf to keep himself busy. He began to volunteer with the Health Care Network (HCN) serving as Volunteer Medical Director for many years. He volunteered at the HCN for 32 years until March 2020, when the pandemic interrupted in-person medical visits.

Other post-retirement activities included: serving as Medical Director for Lincoln Lutheran’s Nursing Homes, helping with the founding of the Racine Geriatric Assessment Center, and sitting on the City of Racine Board of Health. An avid player of card games, after retirement Bill began playing competitive duplicate bridge, often playing twice per week. In 2007, he was the recipient of The Jack B. McConnell, MD, Award for Excellence in Volunteerism in Washington D.C. for his endeavors as a senior physician dedicated to improving access to health care in the United States.

Bill is survived by three children: Bill Little, Kathy Vollmer (Don Scott), Barbara Little Earnest (Royce); five grandchildren: Jenny Little Fowler (T.Jay), Nathan Vollmer, Matthew Vollmer (Morgan), Michael Earnest and Tom Earnest (finance’ Marissa Yetter); and four great-grandchildren: Rae Vollmer, Shane Vollmer, Olivia Fowler, and Henry Fowler; and dear friend, June Doomis.

Bill was preceded in death by an infant sister; his parents; his wife of 57 years, Dorothy; and a daughter, Mary Ellen Kammerer.

The family wishes to thank the staff of Primrose Retirement Community and Hospice Alliance for the exceptional and compassionate care provided to Bill in his final days.


In lieu of flowers, consider donations to Health Care Network or First Presbyterian Church of Racine, or the charity of your choice. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William Little, Jr. MD, please visit the Purath-Strand Heartfelt Sympathies Store.

Obituary and photo courtesy of Purath-Strand Funeral Home.

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