William E. Wallace Jr., 89, passed away on June 25th, 2017, surrounded by his family.
Bill grew up in a tenement house on Newbury Street in Boston, MA, back when you walked to get where you were going, or took a trolley; when a nickel bought you a chocolate bar, a train ride, and a ticket to the movies. (They were called “talking pictures” then.)
In 1941, Bill was at a Bruins Hockey game with his father when play was suddenly stopped to announce that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. As soon as he met the minimum age requirement, Bill joined the army, and was sent to the Philippines at the tail end of World War II as a member of the U.S. Army Military Police. Ever since, he never missed an opportunity to thank a soldier, active or veteran, for their service to their country. After the war, he followed in his father’s footsteps and pursued a career in the funeral business. He graduated from the former Boston School of Anatomy and Embalming in 1950, which is presently part of Mount Ida College in Newton, MA.
In 1955, he scraped together all the money he had and established the Wallace Funeral Home in Auburn, MA – a business he ran until 1988. But Bill was never one to sit still, and while some see retirement as a welcome reprieve from decades of strenuous work, he dove headfirst into a series of new careers and endeavors.
He became associated with Joyce B. O’Connor Real Estate and was a Justice of the Peace for 14 years. He served as a member of the Board of Deacons and Board of Trustees of the First Congregational Church in Auburn. He was a volunteer with the American Red Cross, Central Mass Chapter, as a member of their Disaster Response Team, and was an instructor in community disaster education.
Bill was a member of the Auburn Board of Health for 13 years (Chairman for 12 years) and was appointed by Governor Edward King to serve on the Hazardous Waste Site Safety Committee and the Town of Auburn Solid Waste Advisory Committee. He was a former Town Meeting Member, Past President of the Auburn District Nursing Association, and Past President and Charter Member of the Auburn Kiwanis Club. He was an incorporator and President of the former Auburn Business Men’s Association, which is now the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Massachusetts Justice of the Peace Association and served on its Executive Board for 7 years. He remained a member of the National Funeral Directors Association as well as the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association.
Bill was a recipient of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce Humanitarian Award in 1984, and the Volunteer of the Year award from the American Red Cross, Central Mass Chapter in 1997.
He married Norma H. Ring in 1967, and they built a wonderful life together during their 43 years of marriage. He is survived by three sons, William E. Wallace III of Killeen, TX, Robert J. Wallace Sr. of Nicholson, PA, Christopher J. Sommerhoff of Deerfield Beach, FL, one daughter, Karin Graves of Auburn, MA, as well as nine grandchildren, and several great grandchildren. He is pre-deceased by his wife, Norma R. Wallace, and his son, Donald B. Wallace.
“I have had the privilege of knowing many wonderful people throughout my career. For that, I am forever grateful. And I have been blessed with a wonderful family.”
The family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the staff at Rose Monahan Hospice Home for the exceptional care and compassion they provided Bill in his final weeks.
Relatives and friends are invited to visit with Bill’s family on Friday June 30, 2017 from 1:30-2:30 pm at Britton-Wallace Funeral Home, 91 Central Street, Auburn. A service honoring his life will begin at 2:30pm concluding with military honors. Burial will be held privately in Hillside Cemetery, Auburn. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Shriners Hospital on 516 Carew Street in Springfield, MA.