NORMAN — William “Bill” Elton Kempster, 70, of Byars, died Friday, April 5, 2013, after a long illness.
Services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Primrose chapel. Burial will be at 2 p.m. at Ft. Sill National Cemetery in Elgin.
William Elton Ryan was born Feb. 23 , 1943, in Chappell, Deuel Co., Neb., to Beryl George and Virginia Margaret (Makey) Ryan. At age 13, he was adopted by Frederic LaVerne and Marjory Adele (Inness) Kempster and lived in Chicago Heights, Ill.
He attended Bloom Township High School, where he played the trumpet in the band, winning several Illinois state music awards.
Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 16 in 1960. He served in the Army for 21 years, 11 months and six days. He served in Vietnam from November 1966-January 1972 in field artillery. He was severely wounded in the battle of Ia Drang and spent almost a year recovering at Great Lakes Naval Hospital. He also served overseas in Germany and was in Iran during the Iranian Revolution. He served as senior drill instructor at Fort Sill.
Bill earned the following awards in the Army: National Defense Service Medal, Bronze star medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal (six), Vietnam Service Medal, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award, Air Medal, Purple Heart with Second Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal with V Device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Army Commendation Medal with Second Oak Leaf Cluster, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Civil Action Unit Citation, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Marksman (Rifle).
After retiring from the Army in 1982, Bill learned to weld and worked as an oil pipeline welder.
He worked for the U.S. Postal Service from 1985-1998, first in Chicago as a mail handler, then in Oklahoma City as a mail processor and acting supervisor.
After retiring from the Postal Service, Bill moved to the country and raised chickens and turkeys.
He loved to hunt, fish and drag race and knew all the best places to fish around Fort Sill. Bill was a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans.
He married Elfreida Smart on Aug. 31, 1964. They divorced March 21, 1967. They had one child, Patricia Kempster. Bill married Janet Sue Knudson in Chicago on Jan. 22, 1972, and divorced April 19, 1989. They had two sons, Daryl William Kempster and Scott Allen Kempster. Bill married Dana Hill on May 16, 1996, in Norman.
He was preceded in death by his natural parents, Beryl George and Virginia Margaret (Makey) Ryan; adoptive parents, Frederic LaVerne and Marjory Adele (Inness) Kempster; sister, Venita Jean (Ryan) Wells; brothers David Byerly and Martin Duane Ryan; and two infants.
Bill is survived by his wife, Dana Hill of the home; daughter, Patricia Kempster; sons Daryl and Scott Kempster; stepdaughters Gail (Smart) Stich and husband Jurgen and Jennifer Yingling; grandchildren Kevin, Markus, Pascal Stich, Savannah Lynn Yingling and Ashlyn Reece Yingling-Beckham; brother, Anthony Ryan and wife Barb; sister, Chere (Byerly) Cordaro and husband John; numerous nephews and nieces; and life-long friends Corrine Lunt and Marion Tuttle.
Visitation will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today at Primrose Funeral Service, 1109 N. Porter Ave. in Norman.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Primrose Funeral Service, www.primrosefuneralservice.com.
Norman Transcript, Monday, April 8, 2013