Bill Kuhns of
Chesterton is celebrating his 100th birthday on June 9.
Bill was born near
Casey, IL, into a farm family that endured many difficult years during his
childhood. The familyís economic challenges forced him to drop out of high
school after his junior year to help out at home. He ventured out on his own
at age 18 and supported himself with a variety of odd jobs, primarily
helping out as a farmhand during the Depression years.
In 1938 Bill met
the love of his life, Dorothy, while they were both working for the same
family. Their relationship developed as WWII approached, and they decided to
postpone marriage until he returned from WWII. Bill joined the Army in 1942,
trained in Utah and shipped out to the European Theater. Once in England,
his abilities were recognized and he was quickly reassigned to the Army Air
Corps, forerunner of todayís Air Force. Bill saw considerable action in the
war and flew 17 missions on B -17 bombers over various targets in Germany,
primarily as a tail gunner. He was also heavily involved in D-Day action and
in the Battle of the Bulge.
Bill returned to
the U.S. after the war and married Dorothy early in 1946. They relocated to
Gary and began raising their three sons in their new home, moving to 12th
street in Chesterton in 1955. Bill was active in the Porter branch of the
VFW, serving as the local Commander for a few years. He was also involved
with the Masons, and participated in many of his sonsí various activities
over the years.
Bill worked at U.S.
Steel in Gary for 36 years, retiring in 1982. He and Dorothy then headed to
sunnier climes in Florida and spent over 20 years enjoying the retirement
life there. They loved driving all over the country, and were fortunate to
be able to visit nearly all 50 states. They dearly enjoyed venturing down
every interesting-looking road they encountered. They relocated back to
Chesterton in 2006 to be closer to family. He and Dorothy were inseparable
until her passing in 2017. Bill continues to enjoy spending time with his
family, especially his many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even a
great-great granddaughter and great-great grandson.
Bill has survived
the successes and shenanigans of 18 U.S. Presidents, beginning with Woodrow
Wilson. He hopes to vote for a few more – an even 20 seems like a nice goal.
Bill remains feisty, alert, informed, humorous and often argumentative.
Although frequently wrong about things, Bill is never in doubt. He even
possesses a valid driverís license – not much of an endorsement of the
license bureausí standards. Fortunately, his sons and daughters-in-law are
also alert and capable of disabling his beloved Chrysler so he doesnít
decide to go on a nighttime cruise around the Port one of these evenings.
His sonsí problem-free conduct in their younger years and many achievements
as adults over the decades have fueled Billís continuing zest for life and
sense of adventure.
Bill is very proud
of the Quilt of Valor that was presented to him on his 98th birthday by the
Chesterton United Methodist Church and the ale ďThe TailgunnerĒ created in
recognition of his service by the Chesterton Brewery. He and the rest of the
family are very fortunate to have his granddaughter, Rhonda Miller, living
with him and providing loving care on an around-the-clock basis.
The family is proud
to celebrate a very long life, very well-lived.