William K. Delaplane, Jr, 98, who spent his childhood in Carroll and Wabash counties and had life-long connections to this area, died quietly on March 22.
Bill, as he was known to all family and friends, loved people and never knew a stranger. He had a penchant for humor, always looking to share a laugh with others through often-corny jokes and silly pranks. He never lost his ability to spontaneously insert a pun or one-liner into conversations, even in his final years. He loved music and had an incredible memory for song lyrics. Throughout his life, he sang in various vocal groups, and he performed as a singer/dancer in several talent shows for seniors.
Bill was born at home on Sept. 1, 1914, in Burlington, Ind., and he was raised on a farm near Deer Creek. He attended his first two years of high school in Burlington, but graduated from Wabash High School in 1932, then Purdue University in 1938. At Purdue he was a member of the marching band and the Acacia fraternity. He looked forward to the alumni reunions to see old friends from these schools.
Bill married Nancy Noggle from Kansas City in 1940, and they moved to Urbana, Ill., where Bill eventually completed his PhD in entomology. Together they purchased Illini Pest Control (IPC), which Bill expanded to include service in east central Illinois and parts of Indiana.
In the mid 1960s, Bill spent three years as a professor at Ohio State University, after which he was a contractor for the United States Agency for International Development in India working with local farmers to improve their rice production. He returned to Illinois in the early 1970s to manage IPC, which he sold in 2008. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of insects.
Even in his old age, Bill never missed a chance to tease anyone, just ask any of his family and friends. He outlived his younger brothers, Robert and Joseph, and his younger sister, Ellyn. Though Bill was very funny, he was second fiddle to his brother Joe. A half-sister, Jackie Higgley, lives in Peru, and a step-sister, Jeannette Hipskind, lives in Wabash. His first cousin, Jim Delaplane (wife, Jo), lives near Flora.
As Bill’s health deteriorated in the last few years, he moved from Urbana to Oak Park, Ill., to be near his daughter and her family. He is survived by his second wife, Elaine, Urbana, Ill., and his daughters, Diana, Champaign, Ill., Dietra Millard, Oak Park, Ill., and Montrew Batson, Orange Beach, Ala. Two sons, William K. III, and Gary, preceded him in death. He had six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
A celebration for Bill will be held at the I Hotel in Champaign, Ill., on Saturday, July 6, at 11 a.m., with a luncheon to follow. All are welcome to come.