Obituary for Willard Thomas "Bill" Stanforth
Willard Thomas “Bill” Stanforth, 96, of Platte, SD passed away Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018 at the Platte Care Center. Funeral Services are 10:30 A.M. Friday, April 6, 2018 at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Platte. A Committal Service with Military Honors will follow at Platte City Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 5:00 – 7:00 P.M. Thursday, April 5, 2018 at Mount Funeral Home in Platte with a 7:00 P.M. Prayer Service.
Willard Thomas “Bill” Stanforth was born to David and Ethel (Ray) Stanforth on March 11, 1922 in Berwick, Illinois. Bill grew up in Abingdon, IL where he went to school and graduated from Abingdon High School in 1940. He was an outstanding athlete and continued his academic and athletic career at Knox College in Galesburg, IL. Bill’s time at Knox was interrupted by his four years of service in the US Marine Corps. He served from 1942-46 in the Pacific Theater aboard the USS San Francisco. Among the battles Bill participated in were the invasions of the Marianna Islands and Okinawa.
Upon his discharge from the Marine Corps in January, 1946, Bill returned to Galesburg and Knox College. He also rekindled his relationship with Maylou Serven and on June 14, 1946, they were married at the Thorndyke-Hilton Chapel at the University of Chicago.
Bill graduated from Knox in the spring of 1948 and started his teaching career that fall in LaHarpe, IL. In addition to teaching social sciences, he was the coach of the football, basketball and track and field teams. In those days, being the coach meant that you were the only coach and you were responsible for the entire athletic program at your school.
Bill and Maylou lived in LaHarpe from 1948-52 during which time Steve, Mark and Todd were born. The young family moved to Platte in 1952 to help Maylou’s parents, Win and Marie Serven, run the Serven Hotel. It didn’t take much to convince Bill to move to the open spaces of South Dakota. He became an avid hunter and fisherman, activities he continued to enjoy until he was nearly 90.
The remaining Stanforth children: Doug, Phil, Kay, Jay and Jan were born in Platte. In 1955, Bill resumed his teaching career at Platte High School where he taught social sciences for twenty years. He also coached track and field in his last few years at PHS. Bill retired from teaching in 1976 but continued to help with the management of the Serven Hotel until Marie closed it in 1979.
Bill continued his association with PHS by attending many of the school’s athletic contests until he could no longer climb the bleachers. He was also a frequent spectator at football practice right up until his last couple years of life. Bill was the head track coach and was very involved in the construction of the track facility south of the Armory. He was very proud of the new athletic complex that was constructed north and east of the school and made sure to drive by frequently both during construction and in the years following its completion.
Bill was very involved with Trinity Lutheran Church throughout the more than 60 years that he was a member. He served several years on the church council and was the President of the congregation several times. He was also active with Gideons International for a number of years.
Bill is survived by Maylou, his wife of 71 years, Platte, SD; as well as all eight of their children: Steve, Mitchell, SD; Mark (Pat), Colorado Springs, CO; Todd (Mary), Platte, SD; Doug (Trish), Winter Haven, FL; Phil (Dixie), Austin, TX; Kay (Lynn Qualm), Madisonville, TX; Jay (George Itule), Tucson, AZ; and Jan (Tom Nachtigal), Laramie, WY. He is also survived by 21 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren, three great-great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, all six of his siblings and one grandchild.
In lieu of flowers memorials in Bill’s honor may be directed to: Camp New Hope, PO Box 52, Platte, SD 57369 or Gideons, PO Box 223, Platte, SD 57369.