William Robert Lancaster, the wind beneath our wings, died October 18th, 2016, surrounded by his wife of 67 years, Lucy G. (Hamm) and his four daughters.
Bill was born September 1st, 1924 in Centralia, Illinois, the middle child of nine, to Ernest Lee Lancaster and Vera Mae (McGregor). He then spent most of his young years in Mayfield, Kentucky where there was a bit of a "Lancaster" clan, one of the most fun-loving families you ever wanted to spend time with.
As a child in the 1930's he would be found on the corner selling donuts his Mom and sister's made, a handsome little boy yelling, "Sweet and Fine, 6 for a nickel, 12 for a dime".
At 17 he was working at White Dome Burgers making $1.50 for a 10-hour day. Knowing there was no future there, he entered the Navy. Even as his memory started to fail him, it seems he could recall every detail and story about his 4.5 years at sea.
In December 1941, he was in a movie theater in NY. The lights went up and a man came center stage and announced that all Service People report to their units immediately, the war had begun. He was on the Ellyson 454 Destroyer. He recalls his first assignment was to rip port hole windows out of her and add torpedo tubes. He helped man the 20mm anti-aircraft gun, acted as a Signalman on the Deck Force and worked the steam turbine engines. Bill spent most of his military career as a 1st Class Electrician. In April 1943, he sailed out on the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Yorktown CV10. He recalled a movie being made while aboard and we were thrilled when we found a copy of, "The Fighting Lady" to present to him years back. It brought tears to his eyes as we all sat and watched together. The energy in his eyes as he introduced the characters and recalled the kamikazes so close they could see the pilots slumped over the yoke as they crashed beside the ship after being shot down.
He met his wife, Lucy, while on leave in Charlestown, MA. Her Aunt was known to prepare meals for the servicemen and the two met at the table. Married August 30, 1949, they raised their family in Andover, MA. He worked for the Boston & Maine Railroad for almost 15 years. Most of his career was spent managing Vulcan Corp, an injection molding company in Lawrence, MA.
Upon retirement he drove a school bus for the Andover children. The local newspaper recognized his extraordinary practices. He taught the kids songs as they rode to school - to the tune of Happy and You know it â€¦ "Keep your hands, feet and bags out of the aisle, keep your hands feet and bags out of the aisle, if you don't you will see, just how angry Bill can be, keep your hands, feet and bags out of the aisle". They all looked forward to the V.I.P. treatment they received on the last day of school. He would wear a tuxedo, roll out a red carpet on the sidewalk and adorn the bus with "Future Leaders of the World" signs.
He also spent a couple of years of retirement as a maintenance engineer at Canobie Lake Park. Well into his sixties and started every morning with a test run on the wooden roller-coaster which he would tell you was his favorite job ever.
Their life had always revolved around their church, the Lowell Church of the Nazarene in MA and then when they moved to Spring Hill, FL in 1997 they quickly identified some of life's best friends at the Calvary Church of the Nazarene. If you ever visited the church you would know him as the well-dressed gentleman at the door, not just greeting, but hugging all that entered. His "business card" had a saying on the back about the need and benefits of "hugging".
His favorite pastime was riding his Honda Goldwing motorcycleâ€¦ he had been declared legally blind 12 years ago but would still ask for a new motorcycle every holiday. Strumming his guitar, playing the organ and bending notes on the harmonica were all self-taught talents that his family and friends grew to love. He had a repertoire of songs that we are certain will be soon lost with his disappearing generation.
Bill is survived by his wife, Lucy of Spring Hill, FL. Four "Daddy's Girls": Susan Hemsworth and husband Kenneth of Bradenton, FL & Methuen, MA,; Deborah Lancaster-Rutter and husband Stephen of Andover, MA.; Beth Lancaster-Collins and her husband James of Sarasota, FL and Laura Cyr of Spring Hill, FL. He adored his five grandchildren & 4 great-grandchildren: Matthew William Thresher & wife Cherish with sons Luke & William of North Royalton, OH; Stacy Solomon & husband Michael with daughter Kyla of Plaistow, NH; Michael David Thresher and wife Jill with daughter Sophie of Georgetown, MA; Jessica Lee Cyr of Redondo Beach, CA and Lily Mae Cyr of Spring Hill, FL. Although pre-deceased by 6 of his siblings: Henry Lancaster, Marion Thomas, Dorothy Crawford, Elizabeth Hendley, Teddy Lancaster and Phyllis King; he is survived by 2 lovely sisters; Margie Knudsen and Carolyn Cusack both of Texas.
His family tree would be compared to that of a Banyan tree. At last count, many years back, he had 45 niece and nephews, over 90 great niece & nephews and well over 50 great-greats. And to listen to them all you would hear a chorus of, "My Favorite Uncle Bill".
If you knew him, you will miss your birthday call where he and Lucy would serenade you with a duet of "Happy Birthday followed by Oh You Beautiful Doll"
Bill was probably best known for his Patriotism. His home was never without a tall flagpole in the front yard. He would raise his flag every morning, step back and salute and then proudly return at sundown to ceremoniously bring her back down for the night. His was a flag that never experienced rain. At the sign of dark clouds he would quickly bring her in to safety.
As such, in lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted to erect an American flagpole with a bench at his home church, honoring his daily routine. Checks may be made out to Lucy Lancaster with a notation at bottom "Salute to Bill" and can be either mailed to her or dropped at their church.
A sweeter man has never passed through the gates of Heaven.
Services will be at Spring Hill Calvary Church of the Nazarene - 235 Cobblestone Dr.,
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