DELAWARE — William Bill Combs, a decorated World War II veteran and longtime and well-respected Delaware resident for almost 50 years, died Sept. 25, 2016 at the age of 91. William Duane Combs was born in Akron in 1925. Bill was a U.S. Army infantryman and demolitions expert in World War II's European Theater. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and in Leipzig in 1945 and was awarded a Bronze Star for his heroism. After the war, Bill attended Ohio University on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then embarked on a successful career in advertising sales that served his gregarious personality well. He and his wife, Suzanne Alton Combs, eventually settled in Delaware in 1969 and raised four children— Lynette and Nina (both by his first wife, Donna Marek) and Beth and Bob — in their house on Griswold Street for almost 30 years. After Susie died in 2013, Bill moved to Austin Manor on the Ohio Wesleyan University campus. In 2015, he became the subject of widespread attention after appearing in an Esquire magazine interview to discuss his participation in the Allies' liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp in Nazi Germany. The popularity of the article led to follow-up stories in both the Columbus Dispatch and the Delaware Gazette. Bill also became an in-demand local speaker, a role he easily embraced at age 90, given his longtime renown throughout Delaware for his storytelling talents, his endearing sense of humor, and his continual generosity. He was also a published and contest-winning author. Bill will be remembered for displaying acts of kindness — such as serving pre-dawn hot chocolate to garbage collectors during a snowstorm — and for displaying whimsical constructions on his front porch, including a 12-foot-tall "partridge in a pear tree;" a two-legged, blue-jeaned "U.S. Male" mailbox; and a bi-level, electrically heated cat house that once caught fire and had to be extinguished by the Delaware Fire Department. Weakened by five strokes since the death of his beloved wife Susie, Bill passed away peacefully at Austin Manor. He is survived and remembered with love by his children, Lynette Combs, Nina Combs, Beth Combs Hawkins, and Bob (and Issa Lara) Combs; his grandchildren, William, Ian, and Noah Combs, and Ryan and Celeste Hawkins; and his and Susie's lifelong friend, Richard A. Dacks. A memorial service will be Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at 2 p.m. at Austin Manor with military honors by The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1095. All are welcome to come and remember Bill, and Susie as well. In lieu of flowers, well-wishers are encouraged to send a donation to the Honor Flight Network, 175 South Tuttle Road, Springfield, OH 45505 or the American Diabetes Association, 471 E. Broad St., #1630, Columbus, OH 43215. Arrangements are in care of Robinson Funeral Home in Delaware. Condolences may be expressed and memories shared at www.robinsonfuneralhomeinc.com .
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