William Henry “Wild Bill” Purnell, 78, of Ulysses, KS, rode off to the ranch in the sky with his loving family by his side on June 7, 2014, at St. Catherine’s Hospital in Garden City, KS. He was born on July 27, 1935 in Pilot Grove, MO, to James William Purnell and Mildred Virginia (Coy) Purnell Dawson both of whom preceded him in death.
In 1968, Bill married his other half, Bernice “Bea” Caldwell. You rarely saw one without the other-- they were side by side up until his very last breath.
Bill proudly served his country as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. Due to his God-given talent and his love for working and creating with his hands, he became the master craftsman in the field of carpentry, woodworking and painting which allowed him to run his own business for nearly 60 years. He had numerous long-term clients who became his lifelong friends. In addition to his work, Bill made time to serve his community as marshal and later mayor of Clarksburg, MO, as a Moniteau County Missouri Democratic Central Committeeman, and as a Boy Scout leader. He also volunteered for a number of local churches and organizations and events, a favorite being the Little Britches rodeo. Bill loved little children and they loved him. He happily served as an honorary grandpa to assorted local children. As a young boy he was introduced to the ways and lifestyle of the cowboy by working summers on ranches in Kansas and Oklahoma instilling in him his lifelong “wild” cowboy ways.
Bill loved sharing the Gospel and was a relentless warrior in the Sons of Thunder. He loved spending time with his family; his Appaloosa horse Red Eagle; treasure hunting especially for Civil War memorabilia which led to his serving as a consultant to professional historians, and hunting and fishing. Bill loved to tell his stories about his colorful life.
In addition to Bea, he is survived his by his four children, Ricky Jay Scott (Anita) of Macksville, KS and William Jay (Billy) Purnell of Wichita, KS; twin daughters, Resa Dudley (David) of California, MO; and Sherry Ann “Tinky” Purnell of Raleigh, NC; 12 grandchildren: Gentry Rodriguez, Kerry Chrismer, and Jalynn Scott of Macksville, KS; LaDonna Llamas of Kansas City, MO; Donnie Scott of Sugar Creek, MO; Andrea McKiearnan of Hudson, KS; E.H. Hirschvogel of California, MO; Jeffrey William Hirschvogel of Vienna, MO; Robert Hirschvogel of Jefferson City, MO; Leigh Ann (Coffelt) Narron of Clayton, NC; Brannon Purnell and MaKenna Purnell of Wichita, KS; 19 great-grandchildren; brothers, Donnie Purnell of Spotsylvania, VA, Joe Dawson of Platte City, MO, and Coy Dawson of Searcy, Arkansas; sisters Pat Corser of Lebanan, MO; Kathryn Fisher, Mary Lee Rowles, and Tink Myers of Tipton, MO; Shirley Young of Adel, GA; Sandy Wood of Riverside, CA; and Barbara Dawson of Garden City, ID; sisters and brothers-in-law Carlene and Kelly Messerli of California, MO; Louise and Francis Elliott of Dysart, IA; and Shirley Caldwell of LaPorte City, IA; and numerous nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents Bill was preceded in death by stepfather, Joe Dawson; his mother-in-law, Margaret Caldwell Gish; his sidekick, younger brother Jack Purnell; granddaughter, Sandi Lynn Faulkner; brother-in-law, Joe Caldwell, and his best friend, Bart the horse.
Funeral service will be held at 7:00 PM on Monday, June 9, 2014 at Patterson Avenue Church of God in Ulysses, Kansas with Pastor Larry Borthwick and Pastor Randy Fischer officiating. Interment will be held at the Hopewell Union Cemetery in Barnett, MO on Thursday, June 12, 2014. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established for the Bill Purnell family, in c/o the Bank of Ulysses, 200 E. Oklahoma Avenue, Ulysses, KS. Arrangements are in care of Garnand Funeral Home, 405 W. Grant Ave, Ulysses, KS 67880.