William I. Rathbun

William I. Rathbun, long time Saratoga resident, passed away on June 24 at the North Platte Valley Medical Center Long Term Care at the age of 98.

Bill was born on October 28,1925 in Healdton, Oklahoma. He spent his school years in Blackwell, Oklahoma along with his parents, Irl and Ruth and siblings Mary, Kathryn and George. After graduating high school, he attended Northern Oklahoma Junior College the summer before he turned 18, where he studied music, French and English. Bill was inducted into the army to serve in WWII on December 29,1943 after he turned 18. After completing basic training, he was assigned to the B Company of the 1275th Combat Engineer Battalion. His tour of service took him to England, France, Germany and the Philippines. He was honorably discharged in April 1946.

Bill attended college on the G.I. Bill and completed degrees in Music at Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma and Composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He began teaching band in Naperville, Illinois where he met his future wife, Janette Miller. They were married in February 1956 and had two children, Laura and Bill. In 1959 the family moved to Denver, Colorado where Bill became the second trombonist in the Denver Symphony. From there the family moved to Saratoga in 1969 where he was the band director for the Elementary, Middle and High Schools until he retired in 1988. He helped care for Janette until she died of a long illness in 1988.

He was very active in his retirement years. His many activities included serving as a deacon for the Presbyterian Church; coaching band students at the Elementary School with Barb Johnson; serving the community through Kiwanis and directing the Community Choir. In addition to this, he also enjoyed riding his bike to the Saratoga Lake; painting with watercolors and learning the guitar and penny whistle. He enjoyed several trips including a trip to England with family in 1991 to see the town he was first sent to when he was in the army. He met his dear friend and companion Carol Clemetson while in Kiwanis and directing the choir. They spent many hours together playing scrabble, watching movies and baseball, walking and sharing their love of music. Bill’s children really enjoyed spending time with Carol when they visited. Their friendship lasted until Carol’s death on March 31 this year.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Irl and Ruth, siblings Mary and Kathryn, wife Janette, and companion Carol. He is survived by daughter Laura (Rich) and family, son Bill (Cheryl), brother George and family and brother-in-law Donald (Patty) and family.

The funeral will be held on July 12 at 11:00 am at the First Presbyterian Church in Saratoga.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Corbett Medical Foundation through WyoGives.org on July 10.

 

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