FORT WORTH-Wendell Adren Williams passed away in the early morning hours Tuesday, January 28, 2020, five months shy of his 93rd birthday, slipped from this life and into the arms of Christ.
Celebration of life: 11 a.m. Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at Westworth Church of Christ, 5728 White Settlement Road, Westworth Village.
Visitation: 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, February 3, 2020 at the funeral home.
Interment: Wendell will be laid to rest in Benbrook Cemetery.
Wendell was born near Oglesby, Texas in Coryell County on May 21, 1927. Wendell was the youngest of eight children that lived to adulthood. He often quipped that after he was born his mother was too worn out for any more. Busy with the farm and the other children, Wendell was essentially raised by his 10 year old only sister (one sister out of seven boys!). Later in life when meeting people for the first time, Wendell’s sister would offer loudly, “I used to give him a bath in a dish pan when he was a baby!” – much to his chagrin.
At the age of four, little Wendell was given a flour sack and sent out in the fields under the watchful eye of his fourteen year old sister to pick cotton with the rest of the family. As he grew he was given more responsibility on the farm which included taking care of the chickens, pigs and turkeys. He often said, “those turkeys were the stupidest animals, they would look up in the sky when it rained and drown themselves”. He was given a pet goat given the unique name, “Billy”, which his father had caught up in the hills while hunting. He and the goat were inseparable and when the goat eventually died (standing up no less) years later, Wendell later confided that he cried and cried, “It was the saddest day of my life.”
When America entered what would become World War II, Wendell watched his older brothers head off to war and subsequently after forging his mother’s signature on enlistment forms, he entered the United States Army at the ripe old age of 17.
After quick basic training, Wendell was assigned to the 7th Army, 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One”. World War II had officially ended but as part of the Army of Occupation in Europe he and his Company had to deal with a fanatical enemy consisting mostly of Nazi SS who refused to surrender. As a B.A.R. man carrying the Browning Automatic Rifle, Wendell was often called upon to lay down fire and take out snipers and subdue pockets of Nazi resistance. Once while traversing a rickety bridge across a German river, one of the soldiers in Wendell’s unit stumbled and fell into the fast-moving water. Weighed down by a 60-lb pack and unable to swim, the soldier’s head began to go under. Without thinking of his own safety, Wendell quickly dropped his pack and leaped into the freezing river rescuing the drowning man and dragging him to shore. For this act, Wendell was awarded the Soldier’s Medal the fifth highest medal that can be awarded by the Army after the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Soon his unit were called upon to begin repatriating the Jews and Slavs that had been held in concentration camps throughout Germany. Wendell was assigned as a guard to escort the hundreds of former prisoners by train car back to their respective countries. During this time he travelled through Germany, France, Belgium and Poland.
After the repatriation duty was complete and while his platoon was on training maneuvers, an artillery shell exploded near Wendell and his men. An unfortunate incident of “friendly fire” the explosion of the shell blew off his jacket, bent his rifle and ruptured both eardrums. This would contribute to profound hearing loss later in his life. Wendell’s list of service decorations included, Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star, Army Good Conduct Medal/ with bronze star, Marksman badge: Rifle, Auto Rifle, Victory Medal WWII, Europe-Africa-Middle East Medal, WWII Occupation Medal & Germany Clasp, Expert Infantry Badge, Blue Infantry Fourragere w/blue infantry disks, French Fourragere, and Belgian Fourragere. After the war Wendell worked at Swift & Company Meatpacking plant in Fort Worth in the early 50’s. He married Virginia Beth Reeves on August 28th 1954. Wendell and Virginia joined a new church called Westworth Church of Christ in Westworth Village and were baptized by the minister George Gray.
After several miscarriages, on September 19, 1957 a son was born to Wendell and Virginia – Kendell Eugene Williams. Tragically, after a sudden infectious illness Kendell succumbed and died on January 16, 1959, at the age of 16 months. Later that same year another son, Kerry Adren Williams, was born on November 16th. Following another tragic miscarriage in 1962, a healthy baby girl was born to the Williams’ on January 11, 1966 – Kimberly Beth.
Wendell found work as a heavy equipment operator and was eventually promoted to street supervisor of White Settlement, Texas. A few years later Wendell found new employment with Tarrant County working road maintenance operating heavy machinery and was soon promoted to supervisor where he remained until his retirement in 1989. He kept himself busy by taking care of his grass and keeping the trees and lawn manicured. In fact he mowed his own yard well into his 90’s, something he enjoyed.
On June 23rd 1998, at the age of 59, his wife of 44 years, Virginia Beth, died of complications from diabetes and heart disease. She was laid to rest at Benbrook Cemetery in Benbrook, Texas.
Wendell had a thing for Whataburger cheeseburgers which he loved and enjoyed, and He also discovered Coca-Cola in his old age, and was hooked. He also liked to dip snuff and would spit it out the window of the car when he drove, much to the discomfort of the person in the seat behind him. He would also accidently spit, hitting Kim’s legs, and tell her “ it’s good for your tan”
He was very funny. A good father and Christian, his nightly prayers included almost everyone, and went on forever. His humor and personality will be greatly missed, and an understatement to say his absence will leave a huge void in our lives.
Special thank you to Jessica Harris, his Nurse-Aide. Her sensitivity and compassion helped his last days on earth.
Brown Owens & Brumley Family Funeral Home
425 S. Henderson St.