Services for William Frank (Bill) Rainey, 79, of Elkhart will be at Bailey & Foster Chapel in Palestine at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, with the Rev. Barney Walker officiating, assisted by the Rev. Floyd Petersen, with burial following at Pilgrim Cemetery in Elkhart.
He was born on July 7, 1934, in Elkhart, Texas.
He died Saturday, Sept.7, 2013 in Tyler, Texas. He was 79 years old.
He was the son of Arthur Dirden (Rascal) Rainey and Lela Adkerson (Addie) Quarles Cooper.
He was preceded in death by both parents, and his sister, Ouida Sue Rainey Smith.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Pat Nation Rainey; his brother, Allie Dirden Rainey of California; his children, Deborah Fowler and husband Wayne of Huntsville, Texas; Charlotte Tomkavits and husband Mike of New Waverly, Texas, William Arthur Rainey and wife Michelle (Mikki) of New Waverly, Texas, and Natalie Thompson and husband Michael of Elkhart, Texas. Bill leaves behind nine grandchildren: Raymond, Luke, Dustin, and Devan Fowler; Virginia Sprayberry, John Sprayberry and wife Crystal; Anthony and Deanna Rainey; and Nation William Thompson; and seven great-grandchildren.
Bill spent his early childhood running the woods of Elkhart, Texas. When he moved with his family to Freeport, Texas at the beginning of World War II, he immediately began trying to get back. Always industrious, he began his work career early, collecting bottles to redeem for cash deposits. He worked on shrimp boats as a teenager until landing a job at the local movie theater. He later worked at the drive-in, holding down three different positions. His theater jobs gave him a love of movies that lasted a lifetime.
He left school during his senior year to join the Air Force during the Korean Conflict, and was selected for the United States Air Force Security Service, the forerunner of today's Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency. He was among the top 1/2 of one percent of Air Force inductees. Upon entering the Air Force, he finished his GED by taking and passing all the test in one day. His military years were some of the best of his life. His many stories (often hilarious) covered his induction at Lackland AFB in San Antonio in 1951; through electronics school at Kessler AFB in Biloxi, Miss. ; supply school at Francis E. Warren AFB in Wyoming; and then back to Brooks AFB in San Antonio, before going overseas to serve in Japan and Korea.
He was discharged early from Boling AFB in Maryland in 1955 in order to attend college at Sam Houston State Teachers College in Huntsville, Texas, where he majored in mathematics and physics. He received a Bachelor of Science in Education.
Bill taught at the junior high and high school levels; served as assistant principal, and coach of baseball, basketball, volleyball, and softball. He eventually returned to Sam Houston State to teach math.
His many interest included travel, photography, scuba diving, and any and all do-it-yourself projects. His lifelong love of baseball led him to play in the Air Force league and in civilian semi-pro league in Palestine; help establish a Little League in New Waverly, Texas; and with his uncle, Boo Quarles, run a baseball school in Palestine. He loved working with his hands, which led to varied jobs including construction, surveying, working on dredge boats, and building highways, foundations and bridges, some of which still stand today. He joined IBM in 1966 as a Customer Engineer in the Field Engineering Division, and found the job designed for him. He spent 24 years with the company and retired as a “legend in his own time.” Upon retirement in 1990, Bill and his family returned to the Elkhart he loved. He returned to education, helping design, install and teach in the first computer education lab at Elkhart High School.
Throughout his lengthy illness in the last years of his life, Bill handled all difficulties with grace and strength. Though travel was difficult, in September 2012 he attended the Roll Call Reunion during the Freedom Through Vigilance Week at Lackland AFB, where he was honored as a Grand Pioneer of the USAF Security Service. He loved his family and friends, and he will be remembered and missed.
Pallbearers will be William Arthur Rainey, Michael Thompson, Raymond Fowler, Devan Fowler, Bob Armstrong, and Chad Steely. Honorary pallbearers will be Nation William Thompson, Wayne Fowler, John Brent Barnhart, Billy Jack Wright, Cecil Taylor and Larry Bennett.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Bailey & Foster Funeral Home in Palestine.
Arrangements are under the direction of Bailey & Foster.
To view online leave condolences or sign the guest book go to www.baileyandfosterfuneralhome.com.