William (Bill) passed away in Portland, Oregon on Dec. 6, 2021, after a brief illness.
Bill was born in Jefferson, Okla., on Oct. 10, 1937, to William Pleasant and Thelma Marie Dunlavy. As the family grew, they moved to Wichita, where William Sr. worked for Boeing until his retirement.
Bill attended East High in Wichita and upon graduation, he enlisted with the Navy Seabees (Construction Battalion) and was stationed in Okinawa. Upon his discharge, he returned to Wichita, but then he and a friend traveled to Richmond, Calif., where he began his career in construction. There he met and married Viola Taylor in 1963. Two years later, they moved to Lake County, Calif., where their children, Carrie and Billy, were born. The family settled in Lower Lake where they lived for over 35 years.
During those years, Bill was very involved in the community. He enjoyed helping with any school function his kids were in. He also was a member of the Lower Lake Volunteer Fire Department, and even served as an Assistant Chief for a few years.
Bill received his General Building Contractor’s License, as well as a California Real Estate License and started his own construction company. He first partnered with Phil Staehle, then later his own as Dunlavy Construction. Bill built many houses in Lake County, three of which still stand on Lake Street after surviving the damaging fire in Lower Lake. Bill was a modest man, so most people were not aware how much he was able to accomplish in his life with only a high school education to build on.
Years later, Bill went to work for Mike and Joan Epindendio at Epindendio Construction, a large excavating company where he was first employed as “Lead Man” on many jobs, then later in the office as an estimator. This entailed estimating costs for large jobs, such as Walmart parking lots and much of the work done at the Geyser’s geothermal plants. He also worked on drainage projects in the growing vineyards in Lake County. Bill retired from Epindendio in 1999 to pursue his life’s dream – a farm in Kansas.
Bill and Vi moved to Kansas in 2000 to be near Bill’s family. Bill found the beginning of his dream – 80 acres of farm ground in Burrton. He built their home there and began to farm wheat and milo to start. He later started his “cow-calf” operation, adding 20 cows and a bull to the farm. His grandchildren dubbed it “Poppy’s Farm.”
Bill dearly loved this farm and lived his dream for 21 years. As before, he believed in contributing to the community. He went to work for Valley Township maintaining the sand roads in his township. He also served as Director and Treasurer for this township for most of the 20 years. His experience working with “dirt” served him well.
In addition to farming, Bill enjoyed traveling with his family. He loved taking grandkids on cross-country adventures and seeing the world. Two of his favorite trips were cruises to Alaska and the Panama Canal.
Bill knew when it was time to leave his farm and make the move to Oregon to be near their daughter, Carrie, her husband, Tom, and his four grandkids. So, in later 2020 and early 2021, he sold the farm and all the cattle and equipment, and moved to Grants Pass, Ore., just down the hill from the family. Bill enjoyed the closeness of his family for all his time in Oregon.
In the spring, Bill will be returned to rest on the farm he loved so well.
Bill is survived by his wife of 58 years, Vi, a daughter Carrie Bernhart (Tom) of Grants Pass, Ore., and his four grandchildren – Amanda Dunlavy (Sacramento) and Emma, Hunter, and Courtney (Grants Pass). He is also survived by his brother, Lon Dunlavy (Gail) of Burrton, a sister, Karan Townsend of Anchorage, Alaska, a sister-in-law, Rita Dunn of Wichita, and three generations of nieces and nephews. Along with his parents, Bill is preceded in death by his son, Billy, and his brother, Jim.
There will be Celebrations of Life planned for later in the spring in Lower Lake, Calif., and Burrton.