NORMAN — William “Bill” Mack Foote, 91, a longtime businessman and civic leader in Durant, died Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013, at Norman Regional Hospital. Since June, he had been a resident of the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Norman.
Foote was a major force in Durant civic life, having served as mayor, city councilman, chamber of commerce director, treasurer of the Camp Fire Girls, secretary-treasurer of the Oklahoma Presbyterian College Board and president of the Oklahoma Nurserymen’s Association. The Durant Kiwanis Club named Foote Durant’s first “Citizen of the Year” in 1967.
Foote was a life-long member of the First Presbyterian Church of Durant, where he served as an elder for much of his adult life and was superintendent of the Sunday school. He taught a men’s Bible class until he was 91, leaving only when poor health necessitated his move to Norman in 2013. Foote was active in the Indian Nations Presbytery for many years, representing the Durant church.
Foote spent his entire professional career as co-owner and operator of the Durant Nursery Company, a business that started in Indian Territory in 1905. After their father, Junius, passed away in 1946, Foote and his two brothers operated the nursery until they sold it in 1985. At one point, the Durant nursery was Durant’s largest employer and the largest wholesale nursery in Oklahoma. It sold field-grown and container stock over a six-state area surrounding Oklahoma. Foote was in charge of most of the growing operation and headed the retail part of the nursery that served Bryan County.
Bill Foote was born in Durant on Oct. 24, 1921, the youngest of five children born to Junius Talcott Foote and Mary Belle Sims Foote. He attended Durant High School before spending a year at the Oklahoma Military Academy in Claremore. His college study in business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas was interrupted during World War II, when he joined the Army Air Corps.