WWII US Navy veteran, successful businessman turns 100 – Gwinnett citizen | Wonder Mind Kids

Bill Kimmons, a World War II Marine veteran and a man who made the Overhead Door Company number one in Metro Atlanta, turned 100 on Tuesday, October 25, celebrating two birthday celebrations with family and friends in Lawrenceville, Georgia .

Over 44 relatives and friends attended the parties at the Linwood Estates Hawthorn Senior Living independent retirement community, 1611 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd., one party on Saturday so the kids didn’t have to miss school and the other on Tuesday, his actual Birthday .

Born in 1922 in a frame house a few blocks from downtown Norman, Oklahoma, Kimmons had an older brother and three sisters, the youngest, 86, still living in Norman. His family had settled there on a farm during the Depression after being in Dahlonega and East Texas during the Gold Rush era.

During her time on the farm, Kimmons’ father did all kinds of transport and odd jobs. Always willing to help, Billy worked at a lumber yard after school, unloading railroad cars and hauling 100-pound bags of cement to construction sites for University of Oklahoma projects.

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On the occasion of his birthday, Bill was presented with a 100th birthday certificate.On the occasion of his birthday, Bill was presented with a 100th birthday certificate.
Billy, an active youth and not overly cautious, was hit by a car in February 1933 and suffered a broken leg and head injury. His doctor made house calls every day for two weeks, and the hospital and doctor bills totaled $75!

After graduating from Norman High School in June 1940, he and his brother bought a 28-foot semi-trailer to haul lumber from Oklahoma to Arkansas.

When his brother joined the US Coast Guard in 1941, just before World War II began, “I stayed with the truck,” said Kimmons, who had to haul lumber alone on long trips across several states. The transport costs were so low at the time “that I couldn’t afford to hire a helper”.

Kimmons said the truck could not be taken from him while on military service, so he joined the US Marine Corps in 1942.

Bill Kimmons, who turned 100 on October 25, 2022, served in the US 1st Marine Division as a vehicle chandler during World War II.  (Photo courtesy of Bill Kimmons)Bill Kimmons, who turned 100 on October 25, 2022, served in the US 1st Marine Division as a vehicle chandler during World War II. (Photo courtesy of Bill Kimmons)With the consent of his parents, Bill, a minor, enlisted in the Marines in October and served on active duty with the 1st Marine Division in the Pacific until the end of the war. In December 1945 he was honorably discharged.

When he originally spoke to the Marines recruiter, he told him he wanted to join the Air Corps because he wanted to fly. “We have our own Air Force,” the recruiter replied.

However, after spending five months at boot camp, Bill attended transport school and learned things he already knew from his logging experience.

The 1st Marine Division led attacks in the Pacific War on several of the most important islands – New Guinea, New Britain, Pavuvu and Peleliu – which they recaptured in 1943. Bill served in the position of Vehicle Equipment Operator, a job he was well qualified to do, primarily driving trucks and hauling supplies and materials to support the offensives. On some islands, however, there were no roads, so he and his passengers did guard duty and kitchen patrol (KP).

He said the first indication they were in a war zone came when he was on a Liberty ship and “the minesweepers got there to clear the area before we went in”. “I was never really in any danger,” Kimmons said.

When he was released, Kimmons came home with a surprise. “I found out my dad had sold my truck… I wanted another truck, but none were available,” he said.

Kimmons then served in the Oklahoma National Guard for two stints until 1949, when he moved to Amarillo, Texas with his wife and love of his life, Dorothy. They had met at Oklahoma City Business College and married in October 1946 (he was 22, she 17); they had two children, Anne and JW

Bill studied accounting at business college and worked for a garage door company, eventually becoming an accountant and managing offices at Overhead Door Company in Amarillo, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia. Not afraid of hard work, he initially took on additional responsibilities, including sales and garage door installation. He was promoted to open a branch in the Texas Panhandle, and in just a few years, Bill and Dorothy developed the area into a top branch.

In 1955, he and his family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he and his wife grew Overhead Door Company, Atlanta branch, to become the #1 distributor in the greater area. He sold the company in 1972 and bought his first RV the next year.

He said he was more or less forced to sell his business “because I opened my big mouth at a trade show” and started touring by camper van. He and Dorothy spent 40 years together before Dorothy died of cancer in 1986.

He later met and married a fellow RV traveler, Betty, whose husband had died, and they traveled across the United States to visit family and meet new friends. “We traveled in an RV and it was one of the best times of my life,” he said. “My daughter got married, so we were ‘loose'”

At age 95, he and Betty made their final RV trip from their home in Cartersville, Georgia to Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Betty died in 2021 at the age of 99.

Asked about his secret to longevity, Bill said, “Just take it one day at a time.”

Bill is shown alongside Ken Malone, Community Sales Manager for Linwood Estates Hawthorn Senior Living, located at 1611 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd.  in Lawrenceville, Georgia.Bill is shown alongside Ken Malone, Community Sales Manager for Linwood Estates Hawthorn Senior Living, located at 1611 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd. in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Bill and Randy 1000pxBill is interviewed by reporter Randy Louis Cox for an article on the Gwinnett Citizen website. (Gwinnett Citizen photos by Lanie Lessard-Cox)

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