My Yankee Doodle Dandy

A few days ago our family said goodbye to our sweet, sweet Grandad and while we mourn his death, we celebrate his life.

He was born Billy Day Marshall (a name he despised) on July 4, 1924 in Madison County, Texas. As if this day wasn’t special enough in it’s own right, rumor has it that despite being in the middle of a hot Texas summer, it snowed that day in Madisonville.

In the early summer of 1945 he joined the United States Navy because, “boys were getting drafted and nobody wanted to march in the Army!” He would spend his 18th birthday at boot-camp.

From there he received training in processing microfilm which would become his post-Navy career.

2nd row, far right

He would often say that he changed his name, to William Day Marshall, “just a soon as I got the chance!”

He married my grandmother, Carline Colwell, on Christmas Eve of 1944 and was soon discharged from Navy. They began their married life in Houston, Texas, where they raised their twin daughters, my mom, Janelle and aunt, Ladelle.

I think the role that suited him best was that of Grandad. He and Grandmother taught us all the wonderful things that grandparents are supposed to teach you like warm Shipley’s donuts are the absolute best, true Texans drink Dr. Pepper and there’s no substitute for Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

3 Oaks, Madisonville, Texas, 1993

He loved God, his family and of course, his country. The 4th of July has always been a highly celebrated holiday in my family because unlike most, we had a real yankee doodle dandy.

Bolivar Peninsula, Texas, 2006

At the time of our wedding in May 2009, he was my only living grandparent and he beamed with pride that day. He picked out and wore his bright purple ACU tie just for the occasion. He was so proud that his grandchildren were able to attend ACU, the same school his daughters wanted to attend but was financially out of reach. The highlight of the night for me, and most of my family, was watching Grandad as he listed to the steel drum band that played at our reception, it was like he was hearing music for the first time. He clapped and hummed along the entire evening and then talked about the experience for years to come.

Erinshire Gardens, Abilene, Texas, 2009

Grandad – we miss you terribly but it won’t be long before we meet again. Thanks for loving us but most of all, thanks for being our Grandad.

You can also view the obituary and see lots more great photos.

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