William B. Wallace 1917-2009

William B. Wallace
McMinnville, OR
1917-2009

William B. (“Bill”) Wallace passed away quietly in his sleep at the age of 91 on the morning of Wed. May 20, 2009, after a brief but precipitous decline following complications from a stroke.

Bill was born on June 14, 1917 in Kearney, NJ to Anna (McManus) & James Wallace of Paisley, Scotland.

Bill was a lifelong patron of the arts, & enjoyed jazz band & choir concerts, theatre, ballet & dining in Manhattan, NY for many years before enjoying the same, on a smaller scale, upon his retirement to McMinnville, Oregon at the age of 86.

His first job was as a “Bobbin boy” at the Coates & Clark Thread Co., & he spoke fondly of the opportunity to work & live a rugged, outdoor life as a teenage member of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC’s) in Idaho during the Depression.

He had a long career as a precision toolmaker, machinist & aerospace manufacturer.  Among his contributions to early rocketry, Bill helped design & build the X-15 rocket engine & the Lunar Excursion Module.  He was founder & President of his company, Mechanical Laboratories, Inc.

Bill had a life-long love of music.  He was an accomplished drummer, and dabbled in piano & “vibes”. While playing at an event, Bill met & fell in love with the darkly beautiful Teresa Morman.  They eloped on the train to Maryland, but found on their return that the event was not received well by either sets of parents.  They were married (again!) on July 13, 1941 at St. Cecelia’s Roman Catholic Church in Kearney, NJ.  They had six children.

Bill participated in the Allied Invasion of Normandy in WW II as an engineer with the Merchant Marines supply fleet.

Bill will be remembered warmly for a generous heart, a forgiving spirit and for his cosmopolitan taste in clothes, food and jazz.  He had a vibrant and playful sense of humor, & often spoke of his namesake, William Wallace.  He spoke of being one in a 400 year line of Williams born to Jameses born to Williams, & deeply treasured his Scottish roots.  On a recent visit to the Highland Games in Oregon, Bill met the President of the Clan Wallace Society & was delighted to learn he may very well have been the oldest member of the Clan in America.

 

flowers of the forest