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Make a mark and see where it takes you. William "Bill" Alden Flanders, of Fort Davis, Texas, made his mark on this world beginning on October 4, 1947, in Kansas City, Missouri, and passed away September 13, 2023, holding hands with his beloved wife of over 55 years, Peggy (McDonald).
Bill was a brother, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather; the pillar of the family with a neverending dedication to support and encourage, anchoring his family and friends with his loving guidance.
As a lifelong learner fueled with natural curiosity, Bill left his mark in many fields. Sometimes this curiosity was fueled by the desire to make things better, such as when there were only three in the Flanders' Sibling Tribe, Lynn, Bill, and John. Bill took a hammer to John's new tractor and found himself in deep trouble. Many years later, he revealed the reason for his destruction was to create a seat for his sister. His parents, H. Alden and Mary Flanders, quickly realized the depth and persistence of his love of learning when his father was approached by the curious 12-year-old asking when he could have a car. The reply, "When you have enough money to purchase one." led to a paper route and first car purchase that quickly became disassembled, including the engine, in order to learn how it worked. It didn't take long for Hays, Kansas locals to spot the lad driving about. In high school, natural winds, windmills, and a desire to conserve our natural resources, led to experiments for wind-powered electricity.
Before pursuing his formal education in mechanical engineering at Kansas State, Bill enlisted in the United States Army and fought overseas, returning as a multiple decorated veteran, including a Purple Heart recipient. He carried this patriotism for his country throughout his life. No time was wasted upon his return to marry the love of his life, Peggy Jo McDonald. Their love story began when she was just sixteen, and his adventurous ways led to a first date that included the surprise of attending a Christmas formal dance with both adorning white Levi's and sweatshirts. Peggy returned home with her sides hurting from a night filled with laughter...laughter that continued throughout their entire marriage.
Bill's career as a petroleum engineer included numerous awards for his contribution to the industry with his CO2 research and innovation. His career could have taken a much different path when he was approached early in his career by a NASCAR driver to join his team. Though his previous time spent as an alternate race car driver was fun, his family now included two children, Aron and Lisa, and it wasn't too hard of a decision to stay in the engineering career where he supported several American companies, received requests to work in other countries, and retired as president of Transpetco Engineering.
Being born in a time pre-internet and home computers didn't stop him from always exploring the latest and greatest technologies for work and as a hobby. Other pursuits throughout his life included sailing, windsurfing, drawing, astronomy, birding, State Park host/tour guide, indigenous culture, and whatever sparked his interest in a new research project, such as his deep dive into photography in pursuit of capturing the perfect photo to support his artist bride's plein air paintings that many times weren't completed on site. This research led to a possible superior light theory. Bill never needed accolades for his research knowledge shared but instead focused on contributing to the greater good. When he moved to new research topics, he happily shared research gained with someone in the specialized field most likely to continue the research. If you were ever involved in a project with Bill, no matter how big or small, you quickly realized how he held himself and others to a higher standard and paid particular attention to even the most minuscule detail.
Bill's kids learned early on to "Do your best or don't do it at all," "no excuses," "think for yourself," "be at the family dinner table at 6:30," and many other values and words of wisdom. His grandkids and great-grandkids learned that "Papaw" was competitive and may have the advantage of bringing his own games of skill. This younger generation missed out on the fun of learning tactical strategies of July 4th bottle rocket wars with the Minden neighbors.
He shocked family and colleagues alike when he announced his early retirement to make time for what he enjoyed ... spending countless hours soaking in the beauty of nature and wildlife as he, Peggy, and their fur babies camped primarily throughout Texas. Though he enjoyed transitioning to a simpler life, research projects continued to be an integral part of his life, such as his passion for genealogy. A highlight of this research was when he verified his family's lineage connection to a baby found in Flanders' Field in Belgium in the 17th century by a war soldier. Through a deep dive into DNA genealogy, he was also able to identify one of the baby's parents.
Bill and Peggy's travels to their favorite region, Far West Texas, led to their new homestead, Flanders' Paradise located in the Davis Mountains Resort, DMR. Here he founded, expanded, and maintained the DMR Community Library supported by his wife, donations, and a dynamic group of volunteers. The library has been operational for over a decade and was recently handed down to the next generation of librarians. This project was particularly special to Bill, a dyslexic, who avidly read for knowledge and purpose, but not for pleasure until discovering the Dyslexie font in his early 70s. This discovery led to an enjoyment of reading mysteries on his Kindle from his favorite chair, perfectly positioned to watch wildlife. The wildlife of the DMR soon realized Bill's soft spot for animals. Birds, deer, turkeys, and many other creatures knew when he was home and would immediately visit for food and water. Even the wild donkeys won him over.
Bill's final research project produced voluminous amounts of gallbladder cancer research. This research included the success of some patients, including himself, in tracking the progression of the disease through CA 19-9 and CEA tumor markers, as well as the need for close monitoring of the disease during immunotherapy. Bill's family is looking forward to sharing his findings, as he would, with an expert in the field who can hopefully use the information to make advancements in gallbladder cancer research.
Bill's lessons to us all:
• Stay curious
• Never stop learning
• Learn to be quiet and just do
• Pursue your interest with depth and persistence
• Make time for what you enjoy
• Learn to live a simple life
• Do it all with laughter
Bill was preceded in death by his Grandparents, Earl and Pearl Flanders and Kenneth (Poppo) and Ola Munson, as well as his parents, Dr. H. Alden and Mary Flanders.
He will be greatly missed by his wife of over 55 years, Peggy Jo Flanders (McDonald); his daughter, Lisa Flanders-Dick and her husband Mike of Minden, Louisiana; his son, Aron Flanders and his wife Christon of Pratt, Kansas; his granddaughter, Lauren Davidson and her husband Daniel of Minden, Louisiana; his four grandsons, Taylor Dick of Lexington, Kentucky, Zackry Dick of Minden, Louisiana, Gabriel Flanders of Overland Park, Kansas, Cohen Flanders of Pratt, Kansas; his two great-grandsons, Elijah Davidson and Jaxon Davidson; his sister, Lynn (Flanders) Broman and her husband of Littleton, Colorado; his three brothers, John Flanders and wife Gail of Rochester, Minnesota, Richard Flanders and his wife Cyndi of Grayslake, Illinois, and Philip Flanders of Lawrence, Kansas; along with his many nieces, nephews and close friends.
Bill's family would like to extend a special thanks to his DMR, Eden, KOA, Texas City, and Minden "family", Shannon Health System, Dr. David Cummings and staff, and Dr. Hosein M. Shokouh-Amiri.
A family Celebration of Life for our Mountain Man will be held in the Manhattan, Kansas area in November.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Emergent Learning Research Institute (ELRI) in the College of Education and Human Sciences at Louisiana Tech University for Dyslexia research and outreach or to the Mayo Clinic designated for gallbladder research in honor of William Alden Flanders.