Wallace (Wally) Niklaus, age 86, passed away peacefully December 5, 2022, surrounded by his family.
Wally was born in Merrill, Wisconsin and grew up in Wisconsin Rapids. After graduating from high school, he joined the Air Force and was honorably discharged after four years active duty and four years of reserves.
Wally worked in the airline industry for North Central Airlines, Republic Airlines and Northwest Airlines. He retired from the airlines after 42 years and completed his career as the Chief Dispatcher. Wally loved his years there and built many long-term friendships along the way while residing in Wisconsin, Illinois and Eagan, Burnsville and Rosemount Minnesota.
Wally enjoyed volunteering in many ways throughout his life including coaching his daughter’s softball and basketball teams for many seasons. His spiritual life was important to him, and Wally served in various positions at Christ Lutheran Church in Eagan. During one period he volunteered to update the outdoor church sign, whenever Wally traveled and saw other churches’ creative sign, he would stop to take a picture of it for future reference.
After retiring, Wally volunteered at the Northwest Airlines Retiree Call Center and enjoyed assisting other retirees. Wally found another passion when he began volunteering at the Minnesota Zoo. He always had a love of animals but being able to assist visitors, direct traffic (usually school buses), teach others about the animals and use his sign language skills to communicate with visitors made every volunteer session extra rewarding. Wally loved his years at the zoo and fell in love with penguins and dolphins.
During his free time, Wally enjoyed doing genealogy research, traveling to Arizona for the winters and calling weekly Bingo, taking cruises (his favorite was a trip through the Panama Canal), and he never met a polka that he did not enjoy dancing around the dance floor with his wife.
Wally was loved by many, and they will remember him for his sense of humor, his faith and his caring attitude for those around him.
Wally is preceded in death by his daughter Corrine, his parents Frank and Evelyn Niklaus and his in-laws, William and Myrtle Koch. Survived by his loving wife of 62 years, JoAnn (Koch) and his children Barry (Karmen) Niklaus and Dianne (Christopher) McSweeney; also, by other loving family and friends. Military Funeral Honors will occur at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, 23029 N. Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix, AZ on January 18, 2023.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Minnesota Zoo or Hospice of the Valley, Phoenix, who provided a peaceful, comfortable experience for him would be appreciated.