William was born on Apr 29, 1906 in a one room house with a kitchen lean-to on the Kansas prairie. He shared this tiny home with not only his parents but with six older siblings. His father was a farmer so they lived some miles from the nearest town, which was Burns, Kansas. Here they went to sell their produce and buy anything they could not produce themselves. There were three one room schools in the area around Burns plus one in Burns itself. Just two years before "Willie" was born, those four schools consolidated to form the first consolidated grade and high school in the state. This is where "Willie" went to school when he was old enough, following in the footsteps of his elder siblings. He often told of riding in the horse drawn school buses. Will's oldest brother Joe was the first in the family to graduate from high school in 1920. Will was the second in 1925. His next older brother Frank was the third in 1926. The younger siblings followed along in due time. After graduation Will decided to follow Joe to college at Emporia State Teachers College in Emporia, Kansas. He worked at a nearby restaurant, washing dishes, to pay his way, so he was not always able to take a full course load, thus taking five years to complete his course work. He also excelled in sports, playing both basketball and football as well as participating in track. Finally, in 1930, he achieved his goal and graduated with a degree in Agriculture Education. That summer he applied for a position as an Agriculture teacher. He didn't get the job so decided some other path was for him. By 1935, he was working on the Grace Ranch near Burns, Ks, as a cowboy. Yip-pee-ki-yi!! Git along, little dogies!! By 1940 he had become the ranch foreman. He was 34 years old by now and thinking about having a family. But he hadn't met the right woman. Not that there were many unattached ladies around. Then a new pastor arrived for the local Catholic church. He was Rev. F. R. Schmidt, a fine looking young man and it was his first parish. And he brought his older sister with him as his housekeeper. Her name was Agnes. Will thought she was beautiful. Her hair blossomed around her face like a white halo, though from the back it was dark. She had a fine, sturdy build and radiated health. He and the other parishioners quickly found that she was as kind and good as her brother also. So he decided to court her. And so did his brother, Frank, who was also still single. This continued for over a year with Agnes gradually showing Bill more favor than Frank. If both of them asked her to a church social function, she would usually elect to go with Bill. They didn't just go to church events either. The movies were a great attraction, though there was no theater in Burns. One evening, Dec.7, 1941, the young couple went to nearby Florence, Ks. to see a new movie. At that time, the main feature was always preceded by a cartoon and a film of the latest news. That night the news featured the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which had occurred earlier in the day. It had probably been on the radio earlier but this was the first that many of the people in the theater had heard of it, including Bill and Agnes. After the film was over and they returned to Bill's car, he proposed to her and she accepted. Not long after that he registered for the draft and was found to have flat feet, which made him 4F, which meant the military didn't want him. But Bill and Agnes didn't rush into marriage. They waited till Apr 7, 1942, four months exactly from when Bill proposed. Rev. Schmidt performed the ceremony and Frank was Bill's best man. Agnes moved into the foreman's house and started putting a feminine touch to it. Their first child, Mary Katherine, was born on Jan 26, 1943. The following year, Bill decided it was time to start working for himself rather than someone else. During the winter of 1944-45 he moved the family to a small farm which he had rented. All the years he had been working on the ranch he had been saving his money just for this, so he was able to buy his own livestock and equipment. He got started with his spring plowing right away. On Mar 9, their second child, Richard Francis was born. The next couple of years, the farm prospered, until Bill decided it wasn't big enough. In 1947, the family moved to a larger one and life proceeded smoothly. Not every year produced a good crop. There were droughts some years and hail storms in other years that flattened grain crops. But the children grew and Bill and Agnes maintained their health and life went on, with Bill growing more discouraged at making little progress. In 1953, Agnes's youngest brother Richard came to visit with an offer. He worked for a small hatchery in Arkansas. The owners had their own farm to produce eggs to hatch. They needed a new manager for it. Richard wondered if Bill and Agnes would be interested. The salary was $100 a month plus a 3 bedroom house and most utilities were provided. After discussing it with Agnes, Bill said yes. So as soon as school was out in the spring, the family moved to Northeast Arkansas, near the town of Jonesboro. The farm was located on 40 acres, part pasture, part cropland and part woods. There were 4 chicken houses full of hens. Besides caring for the chickens and gathering all those eggs every day, Bill had the option to farm the crop fields if he wished, so he bought new equipment with the proceeds from his old equipment and jumped right in. He also bought two nice Jersey milk cows. The children were 8 and 10 by this time so it was time for them to start learning how to milk. They also got to help with feeding the chickens and gathering eggs. Life went on and the children grew. The family prospered. The farm owners were very happy with Bill's management and gave him regular raises over the years, always making sure he got the maximum for Social Security. Bill and Agnes saved all they could. They had decided years before that they wanted their children to be able to go to college so always stressed getting good grades. By the time Mary graduated from high school they had more than enough to put her through the first year. But the good grades that had been encouraged enabled her to get grants and loans and she also worked just as her father had in college. When Richard graduated the process was the same for him. Almost before they knew it, the children were leaving the nest and beginning families of their own. Bill and Agnes were getting older and slowing down. Bill no longer ran from one job to another on the farm as he had when they moved there. Finally in 1971, he decided to retire and leave the farm. He had great plans for spending more time fishing, which had always been his favorite hobby. The summer and fall of '71 were great fun for him with frequent fishing and playing with his grandchildren. The following winter of '71-'72 he fell ill with the flu and then had a stroke, which hospitalized him for several weeks and left him crippled on his left side. No more fishing on his own. He had to have help walking for some time and even when he was able to get around fairly well by himself, there could be no more scrambling up and down creek banks. He and Agnes moved into a small apartment in Jonesboro. Bill could still drive so they could go shopping and to church and wherever else they wanted. Both the children moved away from Jonesboro with new jobs. Live was quiet. Finally, in 1980, they decided to move to Wynne, Arkansas where their daughter had relocated to. They found a small one bedroom house only two blocks from the grandchildren. Bill found a new hobby. Walking. Most days that the weather didn't prevent it, he would go for a stroll downtown. (Which was only a few blocks away.) Life went on. About 1984, they decided to move to a nursing home. Keeping up even their tiny house was getting too stressful. They made the move and lived quietly there, with frequent visits from Mary and her children and occasional visits from Richard and his family who had moved all the way to Little Rock. Two bad falls with broken hips finally put Bill in bed for good. Only a few short months after that he succumbed to pneumonia on Oct. 26, 1988.
He passed away in 1988.
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.