William "Wee Willie" Makovsky


William “Wee Willie” Makovsky, 73, Moorhead, MN, died Sunday, January 19, 2014 at home with loving family surrounding him. William Arthur Makovsky was born on June 11, 1940 in Silver Lake, MN to William E. and Lucy (Wraspir) Makovsky. William attended and graduated from Silver Lake Public School in 1958. He served in the US Army from 1958 to 1960. William was married to Agnes B. Mallak from 1961 to 1986 and they raised five children.

On November 24, 1988, William was joined in marriage to Ann Ruzicka, with whom he recently celebrated 25 years of matrimony.

William worked for Texgas/Suburban Propane in Fergus Falls, Wahpeton, Barnesville, and New Brighton from 1961 to 1995, at which time he retired.

But William’s true labor of love was with his music, acting as front man for The Wee Willie Band. Through the 55 years of entertaining, Wee Willie played all over the United States, as well as Austria, Germany, and Canada.  He also recorded 22 albums. His accomplishments were recently recognized with inductions into the World Concertina Congress Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, as well as being named the Minnesota Band of the Year in 2006.

William was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Moorhead. He was also a member of Knights of Columbus, American Legion, Sons of Norway, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

William made it his life’s mission to make people smile. His infectious positive attitude and joyful nature made him a person that all looked forward to seeing. 

William is survived by his wife, Ann, Moorhead, MN; sons, Wayne (Sheila) Ruzicka, Rogers, MN, Rodney (Beth) Ruzicka, Fargo, ND, Mike (Amber) Makovsky, Fergus Falls, MN, Mike (Laura) Ruzicka, West Fargo, ND, Jim (Dawn) Makovsky, Mankato MN, and Charlie (Jana) Makovsky, Grand Forks, ND; daughters, Lori (Jim) Lee, West Fargo, ND, Joan Makovsky, Apple Valley, MN, and Jennifer Makovsky, Keller, TX; 16 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren; brother, August (Irene) Makovsky, Glencoe, MN; sisters, Delores Vorlicek, Biscay, MN and Darlene Vorlicek, Hutchinson, MN; and many nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his parents; brothers-in-law, Junior Vorlicek and Stanley Vorlicek; and nephew, Fran Vorlicek.

Special thanks to Hospice of the Red River Valley for the guidance and care they provided during this difficult time.

Memorials preferred to the Fargo VA Hospital.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Cottage Grove MN
    .Dear Family, Friends and Band Mates Of Mr. Makovsky,

    We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to all who are mourning the passing of Wee Willie.

    Wow, what a wonderful performer, musician, and band! We’ve, enjoyed seeing their performances on the Polka Spotlight Show many times, as my Mom who lives in a senior high rise also enjoyed seeing them on TV.

    I know Ken Erickson real good, and I know that this is a great loss for him as well as for all who knew Wee Willie.

    We too are musicians,(Darlene And The Boys) and to see a person have so much fun entertaining people as Wee Willie did, is just simply awesome!

    May God grant you His infinite love and sustain each of you this day and the days ahead.

    In Christ Jesus name,

  2. Fargo ND
    Wee Willie, We will miss you. I loved how you always played The John Deere Polka for us. As a John Deere Electronics worker, many of us used a phrase from your song on our cell phones.
    Thanks for the wonderful times, and the humor.
    Kathy Steffan
    and the Sailor you new, Richard Gendrolis, from Boston.

  3. Moorhead MN
    So sorry Ann to see about Bill, will really miss our visits next summer as he rode the scooter around the block, was always a joy.
    I’m in AZ
    right now

  4. Cayuga ND
    Our deepest sympathy to all of Willie’s family. As an old time musician myself, I always enjoyed hearing Willie live or on radio. It was a pleasure to dance to his music! Can you imagine the concertina God gave to Willie when he entered his heavenly home?

  5. Mankato MN
    Sincere sympathy to Willie’s family. May your memories bring you strength, comfort and peace. Although I didn’t know him well, I’ll always remember the kindness and encouragement Willie extended to me when I was first learning to play the concertina. He will, indeed, always be The Concertina Fiddler.

  6. Silver Lake MN
    – Minnesota
    Dear family of Wee Willie. We are so sorry for your loss. While we did not know Wee Willie well, we know his brother August very well. Thanks to the magic that was made with their music, they brought a lot of joy and happiness to others over the years. My husbands Grandfather was a HUGE fan and was only happy when I gifted him with a CD of their music every year. He always said Wee Willie knew how to make great music. We will keep your family in our prayers.

    David and Angela Dostal

  7. Silver Lake MN
    We have lost a wonderful man and friend. Remembering all the times he played in Silver Lake MN
    for the Polka Mass, at the Am Legion, music in the park, in the parades, at parties (even the foolish parties) and donated his time for playing at benefits. Beautiful memories and fun times when all of the band stayed at our home for some of these events.
    He will be greatly missed.

  8. Jordan MN
    So sorry to hear about the death of Wee Willie. He was a member of our Czech Condertina Club in New Prague and we that love concertina music– looked to Willie as a Master. For several summers he has entertained at the Vining Watermellon Day celebration and the chairs and dance floor is always crowded. What a blessing to have known him.

  9. Moorhead MN
    I live a few houses from the Makovsky home. I had only known him a couple of years. I will remember his smile. Occasionally, I watched channel 99 -TV Polka dancing, etc. His band was playing, which I very much enjoyed.

  10. Perham MnWee Willie Family,
    We are so saddened to hear of our Buddies death. What an awesome person, and his music is just the best, we sure will miss him. We have all his cassett’s and CD’s, and wherever our 3 wheeler Gold Wing goes he is right with us, entertaing us!
    Our deepest sympathy to each of you, his memories will be forever.
    Mel & Delores Hoseth
    Perham Mn

  11. Appleton WII’m sorry to hear of Willie’s passing. I was very fortunate to get to play a job with his band at the old Zivko’s Ballroom at Hartford, WI, just a few years ago. Memories like this last forever. 3 down, 2 beats, here we go Willie.

  12. wi.rapids WisconsinOur deppest sympathy to Bill’s family, from the staff of WFHR AM1320 radio. Bill will be missed at the ixonia firemens hall and hartford’s chandler ballroom. I had a few chances to talk and share stories. He will be missed, but, he lives on thru his recordings. Somewhere there will be a dj playing his records!

  13. Wahpeton ND
    Our sincere sympathy on the loss of the icon William “Wee Willie” Makovsky. He will be sadly missed by the multitudes who knew him for his many talents and in particular his playing the Concertina. You will be long remembered Willie.

  14. West Fargo ND
    Caring thoughts and prayers are being sent to surround you all.
    Over the years Willie played with a variety of musicians that became friends and family. They spread polka joy around the world.
    I’m sure as he passed through the pearly gates that heaven was waiting to have the biggest polka party ever.
    What a great way to warm the hearts of so many.
    Play on Willie.

  15. Moorhead MnWee willie will greatly by missed… I will always remember seeing him cruise out walking his dog and always would stop say hi and chat for a bit. He always had a smile on his face and always was a pleasure to talk to. We will miss seeing you I the neighborhood

  16. Lakefield Mn Our deepest condolences Jim to you and your entire family. No matter what the age its very difficult to experience the death of a parent. Please know your all in our prayers and Trust in our dear Lord and Savior as He will provide you all the strength you will need during this difficult time. In Gods love, Bruce and Jan Bakalyar

  17. Lester Prairie Minnesota
    Dear family of Wee Willie. Without him i would not be the musician i am today. When he brought me on stage at the lakeside ballroom to play twinkle twinkle star it was the greatest feeling ever. I’ve had so many great memories with him. I am so fortunate to have had such a great musician to look up to and like I’ve always said i owe it all to him.He was my mentor from the time i met him when i was 3 and a half and will always be my mentor. He was 1 of the greatest concertina players i have know in my short 18 years and i hope i can grow and be half the musician he was. God Bless you during this difficult time but don’t forget to smile even though its difficult because i know that’s what he would want.

  18. Charlie and Jim,
    So sorry to hear about the passing of your dad. What a great dad and person. Know how hard this is, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  19. NEW ULM MN
    Our sympathy to Bill’s family. We will miss playing beside him at the many polka fests. And cherish the many good times on stage with him and his band. Red & Loretta – The Leon Olsen Show

  20. Detroit Lakes MN
    Ann and family:
    We are so sorry and sadden for your loss.
    Bill was a great concertina player and always had a smile when he played. Fun to dance to. We missed Bill and you down South the last couple of years. We enjoy our eating out and get to gathers.
    Hold on to your wonderful memories you and Bill created and let them guide you during this time of sadness. He is another angel in heaven with the rest of the great musicians making more great music. We have another star in the sky. Our thoughts and prayers are with you with deepest sympathy.
    Jim & Char Becker

  21. Plymouth Minnesota
    Remembering Wee Willie and his family in heartfelt thoughts prayers and sympathy. Our family and kids have been friends for many years.
    Jim and Lenore Moulsoff

  22. Frazee, Mn. We enjoyed dancing to the Wee Willie Band for many, many years. His band played for our daughter’s wedding dance. He had that big smile and always made us feel welcome as we danced to his music. We always felt sorry for Ann having to sit on the sidelines while we danced past. That was the payoff for having a musical husband. He will be one of our memories.

  23. Underwoood MN
    Anne and family.

    I am so sorry to hear about Bill. I am so glad I talked to him just a short time ago, I always loved to hear his voice. He was so helpful to me when Larry passed away and helping me sell his concertinas. I know how much you will miss him as he was a very SPECIAL person. Larry and Bill can make a lot of good music now.

    Gods Blessings to you Anne

    Love Carol Fyhrie

    We were very sorry to hear of WillIam’s passing. The Wee Willie Band is one of our most requested Old Tyme bands on our station. Our condolences to his family.

  25. Fergus Falls MN
    We were so sorry to hear of the passing of our dear friend Wee Willie. When Janet Neumann lived in the country south of Fergus Falls, her children and the Makovsky children were neighbors and playmates. Bill and Agnes were the Godparents of her youngest daughter.
    Bill Bosch has been an accordion player all his adult life, and his friendship with Wee Willie grew out of their love of music and entertaining. Bill Bosch and Janet Neumann were married recently and winter in south Texas where they enjoyed seeing Wee Willie often, and dancing to his wonderful music. Our hearts go out to his wife, Ann, and the Makovsky family. God bless you!

  26. West Fargo North Dakota
    To Wee Willie,
    Thank You for the wonderful music over the years. How you made me smile when attending the polka fests you played at.
    What a huge void in the Old Time Music industry. What a giant and what a wonderful man.
    I am so sad to see him retire but so happy and thankful I had the time to know and listen to him play. You will be truly missed but not forgotten.
    Bryce Huseby
    West Fargo

  27. Moorhead Minnesota
    Bill and his wife Ann live just to the north of us. It was always nice to say the familiar Hi and watching him on his scooter walking their dog down the street. A very nice man with a wonderful,smile. He will be missed in the neighborhood.

  28. Ottertail mn.Anne and family,

    Very shocked when we saw that Bill had left us on channel 6 news tonight. Ellen, Sharon, Ginger and Me all have talked. We are all so deeply saddened by his passing.
    Can u imagine the music going on up in heaven with Bill, Marv and Wayne Some of the Original Wee Willie Band. Hugs to all of you Jerry and Vonnie Swenson

  29. Thoughts and prayers go out to the family, we grew up listening to Wee Willie with Grandpa Marvin on the drums! Bill was a great man that will be missed by all. Jesse & Julie Swenson

  30. Santa Barbara CAAnn and Lori,

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    With Sympathy and Love, Debbie Tilley

  31. Mooreton ND
    We have many fun memories of living next door to Wee Willie during his time in Mooreton. Our prayers and sympathy go out to his family. May you feel the love of family, friend and the Lord surround you.

  32. Moorhead We were both shocked and deeply saddened to see that Wee Willie left us.
    Our Maker must have needed an especially personable guy to come up and play good music just for Him–He, certainly, won’t be disappointed.

    Willie would stop by many, many times at our home (just up north from you)–just to shoot the breeze, exchange stories, etc.

    We will miss him but then, so will anyone else that ever knew him, talked to him and listened to his music making –he was an extraordinarily talented guy.

    Our deepest and most heartfelt sympathy to his whole family.

    Clair & Ardy P.

  33. West Fargo North Dakota
    Bill always called me “BUDDY”. He loved having family around and I will share this from many conversations with him, “Coming Togethther Is A Beginning…Keeping Together Is Progress…Staying Together Is Family”.
    Thank You for Being My Family!

  34. New Ulm Minnesota
    Sorry to hear about the passing of “Wee Willie” Good friend & fellow musician, Many memorable times at the “Gibbon Ballroom Polka Fest” and other festivals!

  35. I give my sympathy to the family as I went to Milwaukee and saw you there playing so was glad to see and hear you plat it was very nice to see you.God Bless You and your family.

  36. Matt of Woodbury MN. William your music was great. When I was in my 20 s my grandpa would have your polka dot the health of it CD in the CD player. He would mostly play the John Deere polka over and over and over till the cars would wear out. Now I am in my 30s and all I have is memories of that John Deere polka being played most of the way from St. Paul to surgeon lake and back on a summers weekend. I think it’s sad that my younger generation doesn’t even have polka music being played at wedding receptions. My condolences to our to your family.

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