Bill died May 14, 2014, after a short but difficult battle with cancer complicated by diabetes and heart disease. His wife and children had lovingly cared for him at home before it became necessary for The Hospice of East Texas to assist.
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He was born on Aug. 29, 1929, in Coleman. Bill was the only child of El Freda Taylor Pirtle and George William Pirtle. After spending two years in Michigan, the family moved to Tyler.
In the early 1940s he was a very active Boy Scout, and most of his early activities centered on Scouting. He achieved the honor of Eagle Scout at the age of 13. He graduated from Tyler High School in 1945. From high school, Bill went directly to The University of Texas at Austin, graduating in 1949. Upon graduation he entered Baylor Medical School graduating with an M.D. degree in 1953. After serving an internship and one year of surgical residency, he was drafted into the United States Air Force. He was stationed at Clovis Air Force Base outside of Clovis, N.M. He served as chief of surgery and the last six months of service he served as hospital commander. Having served two years in the Air Force, he returned to Tyler and began his private practice of medicine.
Bill was a lifelong Methodist who gave his service to several Methodist churches. Marvin United Methodist Church was his church home from his early years. From 1965 to 1971 he served Whaley United Methodist Church in Gainesville. There he was named chairman of the board of trustees during a crucial time when the church moved locations to build a new church. From 1972 to 1985 he was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Hurst. He served as chairman of the Administrative Board for two years along with many other jobs. While there he also had a chapel built that was dedicated and named for his mother and father. In 1985 he took an early retirement from medicine and returned to Tyler and Marvin United Methodist Church. He served as vice chairman of the Board of Trustees and ushered at the main worship service for more than 25 years. Bill also subsidized The Pirtle Lectureship series started by his father.
Around 1967, Bill became interested in collecting medals as a hobby. He became active in the Orders and Medals Society of America and attended their annual meetings held in various cities for 30 years. During that time, he acquired one of the largest collections of medals in the country.
Having married Joyce Hays Morgan in 1972, they made their home in Bedford. They soon discovered a mutual interest and love of art and began a collection. In 1981, they built an art gallery that proved to be very successful. Upon returning to Tyler in 1985, Joyce and Bill devoted a great deal of their time to their art gallery.
Bill and Joyce loved to travel and during the past 42 years they traveled to all seven continents and visited all 50 states in the United States. They spent a great deal of time in Washington, D.C., during the Reagan years, visiting the White House on three different occasions. In 1982, Bill was appointed to the National Armed Forces Museum Advisory Board of the Smithsonian Institute.
One of Bill's favorite activities was hunting on the Tres Amigos Ranch in South Texas, originally developed by his father and the Guinn and Woldert families. For many decades, Bill and Joyce enjoyed countless hunts with family and friends.
Bill was an avid golfer and played in many different tournaments throughout the country. He was a member of Willow Brook Country Club and was very devoted to his golf group. He lovingly supported many civic endeavors in Tyler. He was presently serving on the Tyler Junior College Foundation Board and The University of Texas at Tyler Development. He had been active in the Tyler Museum of Art for many years and served on its board for two years.
Bill was preceded in death by his mother and father and several first cousins, most recently losing Buddy Pirtle of Scottsburg, Ind. Bill and Joyce had a very deep bond with Buddy and his wife, Dori.
Bill is survived by his loving wife, Joyce. He is also survived by five children and two stepchildren. They are Robert Pirtle and his wife Jalinea, of Tyler, James Pirtle, of Tyler, Jeanann Pirtle, of Dallas, Lynne Pirtle, of Los Angeles, Calif., George William Pirtle III, of Bedford, Kerry Morgan and his wife Kim, of Bedford, Rae Ann Morgan Mauricio and her husband Curtis, of Colleyville. He is also survived by eight grandchildren; along with three stepgrandchildren; and three stepgreat-grandchildren; as well as sisters-in-law, Janie Martin and her husband Bill, of Gainesville, and Sally Gibson and her husband Howard, of Gainesville; along with numerous nieces and nephews by marriage. He is survived by Buddy Pirtle's granddaughters, to whom he had become very close in recent years.
The family will hold a private graveside service on Sunday, May 18, 2014, in Rose Hill Cemetery. Following the interment will be a Celebration of Life service in his precious memory at Marvin United Methodist Church at 3 p.m. with Dr. Doug Baker and the Rev. Gerry Giles officiating under the direction of Stewart Family Funeral Home.
Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Dr. George O'Neal, of Mount Pleasant, George Alan O'Neal, of New Braunfels, Bobby Vogus and David Domsch, of Pleasanton, Wuyman Baker, of Thedford, Bernie Ward, Bob Faulkner and Greg Majors, all of Tyler.
The Pirtle family gratefully acknowledges the loving care he received at The Hospice of East Texas.
In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials be made to the
Stewart Family Funeral Home - Tyler
7525 Old Jacksonville Highway
Tyler, TX 75703
Published in Tyler Morning Telegraph from May 16 to May 17, 2014