Press "Enter" to skip to content

William “Bill” James Jenkins

Share this story

William (Bill) James Jenkins, age 96, of Rockwall, TX, passed away on June 23, 2020, having lived a long and full life. Bill was born March 10, 1924, in Conway Springs, Kansas, to Harry Jenkins and Edith (Plaugher) Jenkins. He served in the United States Navy during WWII (1943 – 1947) in the South Pacific as a Gunner’s Mate aboard the newly-commissioned escort carrier USS Corregidor. Being on a newly-commissioned ship gave him the designation of “Plank Owner”. He recounted fascinating stories about the war years that were so formative on his young life. Following his Navy service, Bill worked for the Missouri Pacific/Union Pacific Railroad for 38 years. Starting out as a locomotive fireman and advancing to Road Foreman of Engines, he was highly respected and well-loved by fellow railroad personnel. Retiring from the railroad in 1985 did not slow Bill down or keep him off the tracks for long. Over the next 8 years post-retirement, his desire to remain active saw him working as a railroad fireman and engineer at historic steam-engine railroads across the country, including Steamtown National Historic Site, Grand Canyon Railway, and the Georgetown Loop Railroad. In 1993, Bill “gave up his railroad overalls and hung up his gloves” to travel and see the country with his beloved wife of 67 years, Phyllis.

Bill traveled to 49 U.S. states and enjoyed meeting new people everywhere he went. He and Phyllis were avid participants of many family, railroad, and Navy reunions throughout their years together. Bill attended his final railroad reunion in March 2020. He also actively demonstrated his self-reliance and civic duty in the March 2020 Primary by entering the voting booth to cast his own ballot just days before his 96th birthday! Bill’s engagement with life included being an active member of Gideon’s International for 28 years and the Masons since 1949. He maintained an amazing mind through his inquisitive nature and being well-read from biographies, histories, and historical novels and staying updated on all current events, which he was always happy to discuss. Bill simply had a great love for family and friends. He exhibited such grace in how he lived his later years and was truly representative of that “greatest generation”. In a 2010 newspaper article, at a youthful 86 years of age, Bill was asked how he wanted to be remembered. His response was “as dependable and true to my friends”. Bill’s family and friends would all attest that he succeeded in that endeavor. He will truly be missed.

Bill is survived by his sons: Jeffrey Jenkins and wife Stella; Bill Jenkins, Jr. and wife Debi; daughters: Patrice Taylor and husband David; Patti Couch and husband Phillip; grandchildren: Grant Jenkins, Ben and Shonie Jenkins, Justin Jenkins, Jessica Taylor, Matt Jenkins, Brian Taylor, Alex and Anthony Chavez, Josh Jenkins, and Caroline Couch; great-grandchildren: Ryan, Logan, Grayson, Zack, Cambree, Bentley, Everly, and Leo; sister: Lorene Brauer; and a host of nieces, nephews and extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents; beloved wife, Phyllis; sisters: Maxine Hoyt and Nelda Kemper.

Funeral service with family members will be held on July 7, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. at the DFW National Cemetery.

The family requests no flowers. If you wish to honor Bill’s memory, a donation may be made to Gideon’s International or a charity of your choice.

Share this story