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 William “Mr. Bill” Boorhem

William “Mr. Bill” Boorhem

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Death 31 May 2013 (aged 91)
Belcher, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA
Burial Sherman, Grayson County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 111815116 · View Source
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William Boorhem

Dallas, Texas

Heaven (we hope) is a lot rowdier today, because William Boorhem (aka Bill, aka Crusher Bill, aka Popio, aka Daddy) has entered its gates as the life of the party. We say "we hope", because when asked if he thought whether he would go to heaven or hell, Bill responded, "Well, I hope Heaven, but if I go to Hell, I'm sure I'll know everyone there!" We're pretty sure Heaven won.

Born June 18, 1922 as the youngest son of Lillian and Shelby Boorhem, Bill came into this life as a mischievous "Tom Sawyer" and never changed. Although a slight man, he was bigger than life with his booming voice, his gregarious personality, his love of people, and most of all, his love of an audience!

Born in Los Angeles, California, Bill traveled with his family during the 1920s and 30s all up and down the Mississippi River following civil engineering projects that his father oversaw. He attended at least 14 schools growing up, and when ask what the worst thing about that was, he would answer, "Having to fight my way into EVERY school."

Bill worshipped his father and followed closely in his footsteps. Although he thought his older brother, Shelby, was "the smart one", Bill was a brilliant self-made business man, leaving his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren an incredible safety net and legacy.

Bill's family moved to Malvern, Arkansas his junior year in high school, and it was there that he met the first love of his life, Jane McCormack. High school sweethearts, they persevered through WWII and were married August 27, 1945. Six children followed in quick succession, and when asked if they planned to have that many children, Bill replied, "Probably not, but what else was there to do in Malvern, Arkansas?"

A Naval Fighter Pilot in WWII, Bill flew bombers as well as in the South Pacific Theater. Surviving being shot down twice over the Pacific, Bill summed up the experience of having to land the plane in the "drink" as "Nothin'" compared to being on the rescue submarine for a week—he was claustrophobic!

Upon completing his tour of duty in WWII, Bill went straight to California and partied for two weeks before going home to Arkansas (which his mother knew nothing about). When she picked him up at the airport in Little Rock, the first thing she said was, "You look horrible! What happened?" Bill, who was sporting a 2-week hangover said, "Well, this is just what being in the war does to you...", at which time his mother burst out crying for her poor baby!! We told you…..Tom Sawyer.

Bill stayed in the Naval Reserves after WWII, flying fighter planes on training missions. On one mission, as they were flying jets from the east coast to the Naval Air Station in Grand Prairie, Bill decided to "visit" his family in Malvern. As eight fighter jets flew over Little Rock, Bill issued the order that he was taking the lead and headed up the pack that "buzzed" Pine Bluff Street in Malvern, Arkansas. They were close enough to the ground to see his wife, Jane, and twins Beth and Barbra in the front yard!! Bill's response, ""Yeah, we got lots of press over that.....and none of it good!"

Other escapades included him and five other fighter pilots flying jets UNDER the Golden Gate Bridge several times. When asked if they got in trouble Bill said, "Well, it depends on how serious a near court-martial is to you! But, we came out ok". "Was it worth it?" Bill: "Oh, yeah."

After WWII, Bill moved his family to Dallas in 1953 and began working for a concrete and limestone company. Here he met his future business partner and best friend, John VanAmburgh. Neither one being very good at taking orders, they were unceremoniously fired from said company. Bill's comment about this was, "We had 2 wives, 10 kids, and 1 paycheck between us." Both families somehow survived, and Bill and John founded Crushers, Inc., a highly successful limestone crushing company on Lake Texoma. Bill was the operations guy and John was the sales and "dynamite" guy. It would take a book to recount their adventures, but suffice it to say, they had a good time, and their children have stories galore!

Bill moved his family again in 1963, this time to Sherman, Texas, to be close to Crushers, Inc., where he became an active member in the business community. He served on the Boards of Directors of the Merchants and Planters National Bank and Grayson County Community College, was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and attended more high school plays, musicals, football games, and graduations than he ever cared to admit.

Upon selling Crushers Inc. to Vulcan Materials, Bill and Jane spent a short time in Atlanta, Georgia with Bill working for Vulcan. However, always the entrepreneur, Bill couldn't stay working for someone else for long and soon returned to Sherman to start another successful aggregate company, Boorhem-Fields, with friend Joe Fields. After several years, they sold it to an Irish conglomerate, Old Castle, Inc., and Bill fulfilled a life-long dream of breeding and racing thoroughbreds.

After the death of his first wife, Bill married the second love of his life, Pat Hamlin, in 1982. Together they built Foxwood Plantation, a beautiful and successful thoroughbred racehorse breeding farm in Belcher, LA. Named "Louisiana Breeder of the Year" nine years in a row, Foxwood not only bred horses for sale, but bred many successful race horses, including Zarb's Magic, who ran in the Kentucky Derby. Bill and Pat were deeply involved in the Backside Benevolent Association, part of the Louisiana Horse Breeders' Benevolent and Protective Association, which raises funds to support the Winner's Circle Ministry, as well as funds to support and assist backside track employees. Bill and Pat greatly enjoyed entertaining their many friends over the years in their suite at Louisiana Downs.

There are many people to thank for helping to care for our father in the last years of his life. Earline, beloved housekeeper and caregiver, will sit at the right hand of god for her loving care and loyalty to our dad and our family. Daddy loved and trusted her completely. J.J., our "night man", gets the Boorhem Purple Heart for being the most cussed at helper and the one who walked the floor or sat up with Daddy many a night. Lorenzo, our very own Horse Whisperer, deserves our undying gratitude for his unwavering loyalty to Daddy and to Foxwood. Although he also got cussed at (come to think of it, who didn't?), Daddy loved him like a son. His horse trainer, Ray Spencer, has to be the nicest man in the world, fielding calls from Daddy at all hours of the night while continuing to bring in winners at the track.

Our sister, Ann, gets the Boorhem Medal of Honor for service over and above the call of duty. For the past five years, she has managed Daddy's business and been a primary caregiver, traveling to Shreveport weekly. Brother Ross gets the Boorhem Peace Prize for his calm, ever present, and patient handling of Daddy. Ross was Daddy's go-to guy at any hour of the day or night, including loading the entire TV schedule on his iPhone to tell Daddy what to watch every night.

We would have been wandering in the dark without the expert and loving guidance of our sister Beth, who works in the Senior Care field, and who walked us through every decision and every transition, with copious information, referrals, and willingness to be the point person for doctors and nurses.

Sister Harriet was designated as the scribe for this journey and will be penning a best-seller soon about the life of Crusher Bill. We are counting on her winning the Pulitzer Prize and catapulting all of us to fame and fortune.

Sister Barbra and Brother Kevin and his wife Lyndsey were exempt from most duty due to geography and new baby……but they were on every family call offering moral support and were with us in spirit on every trip to the farm.

Bill's passing leaves a huge hole in our lives and in our hearts, and he will be deeply missed by his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and many friends. They DO NOT make them like him anymore. We have so appreciated your thoughts and prayers and kind words as we walked this last part of the journey with him. What an impact he had on so many!

Bill was preceded in death by his parents Lillian McGillicuddy and Shelby Boorhem, his step-father Frank McGillicuddy, his first and second wives, Jane McCormack Boorhem and Pat Hamlin Boorhem, his brother, Shelby Martin Boorhem, his son William Martin Boorhem, and his grandson Bub Downing.

He is survived by his children Ross Boorhem, Dr. Harriet Boorhem, Kevin Hamlin and wife Lyndsay, all of Dallas, TX; Ann Medlin of Plano, TX; Beth Downing and husband O.E., of Austin, TX; Barbra Heimbach and husband Dr. David of Seattle, WA, ; grandchildren Andrea Evans and husband David of Hamilton, MT; Rebecca Medlin of Plano, TX; Wylie Boorhem and wife Fernanda of Los Angeles, CA; Sarah Jane Livingston and husband David, and Katherine Craft and husband Dan Solomon, all of Austin, TX; Noah Boorhem of Denton, TX; Leslie Boorhem, and Landry Hamlin of Dallas, TX; as well as six great grandchildren. Other survivors include his sisters-in-law Ann Rutherford of Omaha, Neb. and Maria Helena Boorhem of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Bill's honor to the Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association, PO Boc 5584, Bossier City, LA 71171 or your favorite charity . The family also requests, that in honor of Bill, you listen to "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "Pennies from Heaven", "I Did It My Way", and other 30's and 40's hit tunes that he loved so much.

A memorial service will be held Friday, June 7, 2013 in the Chapel of Sparkman / Hillcrest Funeral Home, 7405 W. Northwest Highway, Dallas, TX 75225. The family will receive visitors Thursday evening, June 6, 2013 from 7 - 9:00 p.m. at Sparkman / Hillcrest.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Bill's honor to the Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association, PO Box 5584, Bossier City, LA 71171 or your favorite charity . The family also requests, that in honor of Bill, you listen to "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "Pennies from Heaven", "I Did It My Way", and other 30's and 40's hit tunes that he loved so much.

Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home, Dallas, Texas (214) 363-5401

Published in Shreveport Times on June 5, 2013

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  • Created by: Ellen Stevens
  • Added: 5 Jun 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 111815116
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William “Mr. Bill” Boorhem (1 Feb 1922–31 May 2013), Find A Grave Memorial no. 111815116, citing West Hill Cemetery, Sherman, Grayson County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Ellen Stevens (contributor 47128166) .