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1923 Willis 2023

Willis E. Potratz

November 16, 1923 — May 5, 2023

Willis Everette Potratz was called home to be with our Lord on May 5, 2023 at the age of 99.

A memorial service will be held at 10:00AM, Friday, June 2 at Century Baptist Church, 205 Colt Ave, Bismarck. Visitation will begin an hour before the service starts.

Pastor Willis Potratz was born near Sumner, Iowa to Albert and Josephine Potratz on November 16, 1923. Following his rural high school graduation in 1941, he assisted his parents in farming. A widowed aunt gave him an opportunity to farm with her in 1945. During the summer of 1947, he experienced God's call to Christian ministry. This was described for him by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 1:1 “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God…” His calling was never doubted and confirmed by many people over the years. With the support of all involved, he sold out his farming operation in the fall of 1948 and began ministerial training at Sioux Falls College and Seminary in Sioux Falls, SD. He graduated in 1954 having earned Bachelor of Arts in Christian Education, Bachelor of Divinity, and Master of Religious Education degrees.

In 1948 he married Ruth Lillian Krueger, from Clermont, Iowa. Five children were born to Willis and Ruth; Steven, Linda (deceased after birth), Eloise, Leora, and Nathan. They pastored churches in South Dakota, California, and North Dakota. In 1973 he was chosen to serve Pastors and Churches as the North American Baptist, Great Lakes Area Minister. In 1980, he was selected to serve as the Director of Area Ministers in the United States and Canada. Later, he was appointed as the Associate Executive Director of the North American Baptist Conference with the central office in the Chicago area. In 1984, Judson University in Elgin, Illinois, granted him an honorary Doctorate in Divinity in recognition of his 32 years of ministry.

His roots in farming were displayed in his love for gardening. He was also skilled at growing amazing African Violets - one of Ruth’s favorite flowers. Not only was he a fisher of men, he enjoyed the sport of fishing as well. When it came to the game of ping pong, he was masterful with the paddle, delighting in his grandchildren’s quest to beat their grandpa at the game.

He and Ruth retired in 1990 and moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, where they served with Century Baptist Church as Pastor of Care and Visitation. In his final retirement, Century Church honored him as Pastor Emeritus. His faithful legacy is a blessing to his family.

Willis was preceded in death by daughter, Linda; wife, Ruth; daughters, Eloise Potratz, and Leora Herrmann.

He is survived by sons, Steven, and his wife, Laurie, Nathan and his wife, Tracey; Leora's husband, Tim Herrmann; grandchildren, Rebecca Irwin and her husband, Jesse, Steven Potratz and his wife, Eden, TJ Herrmann and his wife, Dani, David Herrmann and his wife, Sophia, Kelsey Dennis and her husband, Chad, and Allie Bourque and her husband, Tim; great-grandchildren, Conner Potratz, and his wife Emma, Jenna Potratz, Jaxon and Madyson Herrmann, Adam and Carly Bourque, Haylee Dennis, Max and Jack Irwin and Tov Lee-Herrman; and great-great-grandchildren, Luke and Evelynn Potratz.

In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to donate to Crystal Springs Camp at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Willis E. Potratz, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Friday, June 2, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Century Baptist Church

205 Colt Ave, Bismarck, ND 58503

Visitation will start one hour before the service begins.

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