World War II veteran William Logue is honored with a socially distanced porch funeral

By SARAH ELLIS | The State (Columbia, S.C.) | Published: May 8, 2020


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COLUMBIA, S.C. (Tribune News Service) — Ninety-six years full of life just couldn’t go by without a celebration.

William Logue would have wanted a big funeral. He would have loved being the center of attention. He would have loved having people he loved surround him. He would have tried to feed them all.

The World War II veteran died Monday afternoon, and on Thursday, his family made a way to honor both social distancing and the man they called Papa Bill.

Logue was eulogized from the broad front porch of the Edgefield church his family helped found more than 200 years ago. His wife of 71 years, their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews sat together in folding chairs in front of Little Stevens Creek Baptist Church, surrounded by several dozen of Logue’s friends, neighbors and fellow church members, who sat in their cars in the parking lot.

They rolled down their windows and cracked their doors to hear Pastor Ryan Vaughn deliver a front-porch funeral. It was a unique way of mourning death and celebrating life at a time when fears of the highly infectious coronavirus have forced many families to alter or forego funeral plans for their loved ones.

“When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure,” said Vaughn, the former pastor of Little Stevens Creek who frequently visited Logue in his later years and delivered his funeral sermon.

Vaughn said Logue’s family members described him as:

“Stern, but fair.”

“If you grew up in his house under his leadership it was his way; there was no highway option.”

“He was a great gentleman of heroic strength — been known to pick up almost an entire piano just by himself.”

“He was the kindest man I ever knew, and he was one of a kind.”

Born July 7, 1923, not far from the church where he would live to be its oldest member, Logue lived a life of serving.

He served his country as a part of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression and as a Merchant Marine during World War II. He worked in construction, in sawmills and in the oil business. He taught himself to weld, raised cattle and cared for not only his animals but also many of his neighbors’, earning him the honorary title of Dr. Bill. He served his beloved church in countless ways for years, from deacon to treasurer to official bearer of ice (for the sweet tea) at the church’s annual Homecoming celebration.

He was known for riding — rather, zooming — along the rural roads of South Carolina’s peach country on his three-wheeler or four-wheeler, busy checking in on neighbors like Pete Stone.

“He was a jewel ... a pillar of the community,” said Stone, who lived beside Logue and his wife, Bessie, for the past 20 years. He recalled bass fishing and buck hunting with his friend right up into the man’s 90s. “Bill was a man’s man. You could sit and listen to the stories that he would tell for hours and hours and hours. But he was going to treat you like you treated him.”

Surrounded by her close-knit family, Bessie Logue was dressed in fuchsia for her husband’s funeral and said she’s sure he would have liked it. “He liked to see everybody,” she said.

Because of ongoing concerns about the spread of coronavirus, Logue was not able to be celebrated by a traditional military honor guard salute; those have been suspended during the pandemic. Pandemic safety guidelines also meant it was difficult for many family members to spend time with Logue during his final weeks.

“That’s your family. That’s a whole month we’ll never get back,” said his granddaughter Melissa Padgett-Logue.

Logue is survived by Bessie, their sons Billy and Rhett, four grandchildren, eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Walking from the front porch of the church past the crowd of car-bound mourners behind them, Logue’s family gathered Thursday morning at the graveside around his casket, draped with an American flag, for a private final farewell to Papa Bill.

©2020 The State (Columbia, S.C.)
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