July 2020 from
Jerry Pyfer

The Chapter picnic has fallen victim to the pandemic of 2020. We are dealing with the lost by hoping we can safely pull off the meeting at the Oregon Depot in August. The August meeting will have nearly the same itinerary so all will not be lost. The depot has been reserved for August 22nd.
As they always say on the railroad, “Safety first, last and always.”

Wilbert “Bill” Kapfer

Following a lengthy illness, former NWI member and long time friend, Wilbert “Bill” Kapfer passed away July 3rd at 90 years of age. Mr. Bill made friends easily without a mean word toward anyone. Just as much, nobody that knew him had a bad word toward Bill.

Bill was builder and owner of the fallen flag Green Bay & Western railroad model. If you model railroaded in the Rockford area, you knew Mr. Bill. He was among the founding fathers of the Forest City Model Railroad Club, which had a layout in an old factory building along Railroad Avenue in Rockford near the C&NW line in the 1960s. Indeed, many younger generations of the day were welcomed and brought along by Mr. Bill. He was always welcoming younger kids and adults to his home to learn about model railroading, run trains and become immersed in our fine hobby.

Those who had the honor of running on the GBW were amazed at how well his use of outdated technology held together and operated so reliably. Bill stayed with sections of brass track, horn-hook couplers, DC toggle block control, the “Rockford Standard” waybill system, actual timetable operation and many more practices. Nobody had voiced a complaint while running the GBW, it was superb.

When the end came for the GBW, I was tasked to dismantle and disseminate the railroad. The sad task of dismantling one of the granddaddies of Rockford area railroad models was accomplished with dignity. Several friends helped with the job of abandonment as well as acquiring much of Bill’s railroad rolling stock, locomotives, track and structures. The GBW lives on within many current model railroads in the area.

A fitting tribute to Mr. Bill.

The Chapter thanks Mark and Mike Nelson for their donation in memory of Bill.

For more information about the Chapter, see Meetings and Join.

Chapter address

North Western Illinois Chapter - NRHS
P.O. Box 5632
Rockford, IL 61125-0632