A few years later, his aunt’s family moved to Norwood, Missouri. Bill’s new best friend and neighbor was Everett Shores, who happened to have a beautiful younger sister, Stella. Bill started his freshman year at Norwood High School. However, he had to quit school because his only shirt was ruined and they were too poor to buy a new one.
At the age of 15, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps but had to lie about his age to get in. In the CCcamps, Bill built roads and bridges across the United States. At 18, with the money he saved, he and a friend decided to move to California to find work. Bill settled in San Diego.
During these years, Bill had never forgotten the love of his life in Norwood. Before moving to California, Bill and Stella had tried once to go to Hartville, Missouri, to get married. Stella’s mom, Eva, found them and made Stella go back home. They continued their courtship through letters while Bill was gone. He was always begging her to marry him. Bill liked to tell the story of how Stella said it would be a “cold day in July before I marry you.” He was relentless in the proposals and he began to send money home to pay for a train ticket to bring Stella to California. This time with her parents’ approval, she went.
On August 17, 1941, they were married in Yuma, Arizona, at 5:00 a.m. with Bill’s brother, Bob, as their witness. They celebrated 71 years of marriage on the day before his passing.
Bill and Stella made their first home in San Diego, California, where Bill worked at Consolidated Aircraft. Even though he had a six-month deferment from entering World War II, he preferred to go fight for his country in the Army Air Corps, which was later known as the U.S. Air Force. He served for two years from 1943 to 1945 as a tail gunner in a B-29. Bill was very proud of his country and service and loved to share his war stories.
In 1943, while Bill was gone to war, Stella returned to the Macomb, Missouri, area to be with her family for the birth of their first child, Diana. A few days after her birth, Bill returned home on leave to see his wife and beautiful baby girl.
In 1945, after Bill returned home from the war, he moved his family to Wichita, Kansas, and resided there for four or five years. As a young wife, Stella asked her pastor to come to their home and witness to her husband. Bill accepted Christ in their home that night and was baptized shortly after.
They then moved back to Norwood, bought a small farm, and welcomed their second child, David, in 1950.
The family attended Corinth Baptist Church and Bill became a deacon in 1956. He served the Lord and his church for over 50 years.
Bill ran an auto repair business out of his garage for several years. He was very good with his hands and could fix most anything.
In the early 1960s, Bill was hired at the creamery in Cabool, Missouri, and earned his GED while employed there. He always said he wished he had finished high school, but was very proud to have his GED.
Bill was always interested in politics, especially the Democratic Party. A local politician encouraged him to take his Civil Service exam. After receiving the top score on his test, combined with his years of military service, he was appointed postmaster at Norwood. Bill always enjoyed visiting with each person that came in to pick up their mail, getting to know them and helping them in any way he could. He retired in 1985 with 21 years of service.
Bill loved Norwood and wanted to watch it grow and prosper, so he built a small variety store and called it Blanton’s Discount Center. He and Stella always had a sense of pride in their community and were honored one year to be chosen as grand marshals of the Farmer’s Day parade.
Bill had many hobbies. He loved riding his motorcycles and playing guitar, even though he couldn’t carry a tune or keep a beat, so he started building guitars, banjos, and dobros. He moved on to building various pieces of wood furniture that he gave to his children and grandchildren.
Bill loved studying genealogy and learning about his and Stella’s family heritage. He donated his research to the University of Missouri library.
After the death of his son, David, in 1998, he and Stella moved to Mtn. Grove, Missouri, into a new home.
Bill had always promised Stella a new house. They lived there 11 years. During this time Bill developed a fascination with computers and learned to build them.
In 2010, Bill and Stella moved to The Waterford in Springfield, Missouri. He enjoyed meeting the men for breakfast and the fellowship of all the residents and employees. He was loved by every one of them.
In 2011, Bill was escorted by Mike Shores on one of the Honor Flights for World War II veterans. They visited the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., and shared memories with other veterans of their time overseas.
In June 2012, Bill developed congestive heart failure and was hospitalized. After being released from the rehabilitation unit, he and Stella moved to The Gardens Assistive Living. He enjoyed three weeks in their new home before quickly falling ill and passing away.
Bill’s life story is one that America was built on. With a lot of determination and hard work, he survived all the odds against him and persevered. He lived a lot of life, passing just two months shy of 90. The stories he shared will not be forgotten. He will be greatly missed by all his friends, family, and those whose lives he touched.
He was greatly loved by his family. Bill’s legacy, and his and Stella’s love story will live forever in the lives of their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.
Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by one son, David Blanton; two brothers, Robert Blanton and Chester Blanton; one sister, Berniece Ashton; three brothers-in-law, Everett Shores, Billy Shores, and James Shores; and two sisters-in-law, Bonnie King and Bertha Atchison.
Bill is survived by his wife, Stella Blanton; one daughter, Diana Blanton of Nixa, Missouri; one daughter-in-law, Judy Shaw of Nixa; four grandchildren, Sonya Everett and husband Bud of Ava, Missouri, Wes Housley and wife Lee Anne of Welch, Oklahoma, Tara Ecklund and husband Craig of Ozark, Missouri, and Tana Byerly and husband Jared of Nixa; ten great-grandchildren, Jessica Woolman and husband Jesse of Ava, Bethany Murrill and husband Coby of Hatfield, Missouri, Whitney Everett of Springfield, Wesley Trey and Aaron Everett of Ava, W.J. Housley of Welch, Gunnar and Lillian Eckland of Ozark, and Brock and Masen Byerly of Nixa; one great-great-grandchild, Peyton Woolman, and one on the way; one sister, Alene Kendall of Temecula, California; one sister-in-law, Grace Nicholson and husband Darrell of Macomb, Missouri; one brother-in-law, John Shores and wife Shirley of Norwood; and many other relatives and friends who will miss him greatly.
Funeral services were held on Tuesday, August 21, 2012, at 2:00 p.m. in Corinth Baptist Church in Macomb with Rev. Allen Pritchard officiating. Joe Wright, Ronnie Atchison, Diana Edwards and the congregation served as singers. Song selections were “Never Grow Old,” “Beulah Land,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Pallbearers were Wes Housley, Jared Byerly, Craig Ecklund, Bud Everett, Jesse Woolman, and Coby Murrill. Honorary pallbearers were John Shores, Darrell Nicholson, Ivan Calhoun, Dean Lewis, Monte Housley, Tommy Lawler, Phil Durden, Sam Quessenberry, Dallas Nicholson, Golden Stofer, and Kevin Drake. Full military honors were given at the cemetery by the Lima Burial Detail Team, American Post 30, with Jared Moore serving as bugler. Burial was in Hillcrest Cemetery under the direction of Craig-Hurtt Funeral Home, Mtn. Grove.