Willis E. “Bill” Sanford, 95, a resident of Halcottsville, died at his residence on Thursday, May 1, 2014.
Bill was born on a farm up Bragg Hollow on February 11, 1919, the son of Scott and Vera (Rosa) Sanford, but grew up in Halcottsville in a general store operated by his family. He married Dorothy Bodah in 1950 at Arkville. She died in 1989.
In his youth he worked in the general store, harvested ice from the pond, delivered cauliflower and fished, hunted, and trapped in the Catskill Mountains. He joined the Army in WW II and served as a MP in Panama. He also served during the Korean War. He was very proud of his service and for the past 20 years traveled to different cities for a reunion of the 772nd MP Battalion.
After Korea, Bill lived in Worcester, MA with his wife Dorothy and three children. He worked as a carpenter and had hobbies of pistol shooting and astronomy.
When he retired he returned to his beloved Catskills to the house he had grown up in. Bill was a member of the Halcottsville Fire Department for 46 years, and the Middletown Historical Society, past president of the Halcottsville Cemetery Association, and was a key player in modernizing Halcottsville’s water supply. He was the water clerk and maintained the water system until he was 82 years of age.
Bill was member of the Middletown American Legion Post 216. He was an amateur historian and genealogist; he hunted for fossils and arrowheads, collected coins and enjoyed square dancing. He loved animals, especially his dogs, who he would take for long walks in the woods. He was also an avid reader, with tastes ranging from history, archeology, and geology to wildlife and native plants. He loved a good western or mystery.
In his retirement Bill did a lot of traveling to places like Alaska, the Yucatan, England and all over the American and Canadian West. His favorite trip was to Manitoba, Canada to view polar bears. Bill was a kind, hardworking, gentle man who never lost his sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around him.
He is survived by his daughter, Anne Sanford; his son, Tom Sanford; grandchildren, Amy and Jim Sanford, and nieces and nephews.
A daughter, Mary Sanford who died in 2011, predeceased him.
A funeral mass was celebrated at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 5, 2014 at Sacred Heart Church Margaretville. The Rev. Steven Scarmozzino was the celebrant. A committal service followed at the Halcottsville Cemetery.
Calling hours were held at the Hynes Funeral Home, Margaretville on Sunday, May 4 from 2 to until 4 p.m.
Donations in memory of Willis “Bill” Sanford may be made to the Halcottsville Fire Department or the Catskill Area Hospice.
Funeral arrangements were entrusted to the Hynes Funeral Home, Margaretville.