William Drew (“Bill”) Cartwright, of Gulfport Mississippi (formerly from Tifton Georgia and Denver Colorado) passed away on Monday, October 24, 2022. He had just reached his 101st birthday.
Bill was born September 29, 1921 in Tifton Georgia. He was the only child of Perry Lloyd Cartwright and Cora Jane Hendricks Cartwright.
Bill is survived by his daughters Suzanne Walters and Barbara Cartwright, his grandchildren Karen Walters and David Walters (Brandy), his great-grandchildren Charlotte Elizabeth and Lillian Grace, his niece Elsa Conboy and many other nieces and nephews acquired through his marriage to Del. He is preceded in death by his wife, Deloriese (“Del”) Swindle Cartwright, his son-in-law Wayne Walters, and his niece Teresa Wolfe.
Bill accomplished much and observed much in his 101 years on this earth. He left a lasting legacy and example of hospitality, graciousness, generosity, hard work, integrity, and determination. He visited 42 states and 25 countries over the span of his lifetime and resided in more than 10 of those states. He was devoted to family, committed to his church, enamored with anything mechanical or technical (specifically cars, camera’s, airplanes, TV’s, internet, and Skype) and loved to tell stories to anyone who would listen.
Bill was born and raised in Tifton Georgia and graduated from Tifton High School in 1939. Bill had just started his working life when the United States entered World War II. Bill entered military service with the Army Air Corp on March 16, 1942, and was discharged from service on January 24, 1946. Bill primarily served as a Liaison Pilot in India and the Philippines during his service and was fortunate to not have been in active combat.
After the war, Bill worked as a crop duster pilot for five years. He married Del in 1948 in Lebanon Illinois. He and Del met while Bill was stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois for training during the war. Bill re-entered military service in 1950 and served until his retirement in 1966. This second stint in the Air Force involved two tours overseas including 3 years in England and 3 years on a British RAF base in Germany. Bill and Del became parents with the birth of Suzanne in 1959 and then again in 1964 when Barbara came along.
Following his retirement from the Air Force, Bill took advantage of the G.I. Bill and obtained his Associate Degree in Electronic Technology from Brevard Junior College in Brevard Florida. Then Bill, Dell and the girls relocated to Denver Colorado in 1969 where Bill had previously been stationed twice with the Air Force. At the same time, Del’s sister Lovena, her husband Issac (Jimmy), and twin girls Elsa and Teresa, also relocated from Illinois to Denver to have family support as Jimmy was declining due to Huntington’s Disease. Bill became substitute father to Elsa and Teresa and combined, all his “girls” were called his “harem”.
In Denver, Bill worked for Western Electric for five years, and after being laid off during a recession, once again used the G.I. Bill to attend college and obtain his B.S. degree in Electronic Technology from Metropolitan State College. Bill went on to work for NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) in Boulder Colorado for 11 years before retiring in 1987 and making travel his primary occupation.
Bill and Del enjoyed 20 years of retirement life, including annual cross-country trips with their RV, several cruises, and a couple of trips back to England, often visiting people they had made friends with over their years in the military. They also enjoyed several annual camping trips each summer with their two grandchildren.
Bill lost his wife Del in 2007 after 59 years of marriage. Although heartbroken, Bill continued to take an annual winter trip with the RV just as he and Del had been doing for 20 years. In 2009, Bill decided to relocate from Denver Colorado, back to Tifton Georgia, his hometown. He sold the Denver house and bought a 3-bedroom house in Tifton. In this transition, Bill rekindled his friendship with Travelle Morgan, also widowed, whom he and Del had been friends with for many years. Bill’s friendship with Travelle provided many happy times and loving companionship during his 10 years in Tifton. He sorely missed her when he determined it was time to make his next move.
In 2019, Bill made his final relocation to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport Mississippi, initially in the Independent Living section, and over his three years there transitioning through assisted living and long-term care. His family was grateful for the respect and care he received during his time there.
Bill impacted many lives during his time on earth and he will be greatly missed by many. He’s now in his final, permanent home in heaven with Jesus.
An in-person Celebration of Life service is being planned which will be held at Corona Presbyterian Church in Denver Colorado.
Obituary courtesy of Riemann Family Funeral Home, Gulfport.
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