William (Bill) Joseph Hinkelman
December 12, 1926 – January 25, 2021
Richland, Washington – William (Bill) Joseph Hinkelman passed away peacefully of natural causes on Monday, January 25, 2021, at the age of 94 at the Guardian Angels Homes in Richland, Washington with his family by his side. He had a wonderful life and will be sorely missed by those who knew and loved him.
Bill was born on December 12, 1926, at his parents' home in Williamsport, PA. His parents were John Ward Hinkelman and Clara Ofelia Koehler. He was the third son after brothers John (Jack) W. Hinkelman Jr. and Thomas David Hinkelman.
He and his brothers attended St. Boniface Church and school through 6th grade and 7th through 9th grades at Curtin Junior High. All three were Boy Scouts, and Bill rose to the rank of Eagle Scout and became Deputy Scoutmaster in 1943 when most of the men were in the service of World War II. He attended Williamsport High School, where he played soccer and ran on the track. His mile relay team took first place at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia and second place at the State Championship meeting at State College PA. He was a two-letter man on the trail, graduating in 1944.
During the war years, Bill first worked for the Forest Service in Coeur d & # 39; Alene, ID (his duties included fighting forest fires) and then joined the Merchant Marines. Bill served aboard the Raphael Symms, but also sailed the Koloa Victory and the Chanute Victory. He sailed all over Europe, Brazil, the Panama Canal to Japan and back to the USA. He covered a total of 75,000 miles during his time at sea and while enjoying it decided it was not life for him and resigned in September 1946.
On November 11, 1946, he met Catharine (Kay) Cochran, became engaged and they later married on January 31, 1949 in Williamsport from Bill's uncle Ralph Hinkelman in the United Methodist Church. Bill attended Lycoming College in the late 40s and early 50s, but later enrolled at Penn State to study metallurgy, graduating with a BS in June 1951.
His first post-graduate job took him to Federated Metals in San Francisco. He and Kay really enjoyed living in this beautiful city, especially in Twin Peaks where they had a view of the harbor and the Bay Bridge. In June 1952, Bill was drafted into the Army and had a basic working knowledge of Fort Ord, CA. He was then transferred to the Red River Arsenal near Texarkana, TX, where Kay soon joined him. Her eldest, Sherry, was born in January 1954 in this two-state city.
Dismissed later that year, Bill soon joined US Steel at the Duquesne facility in Duquesne, PA, near Pittsburgh. Two years later he got a job at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in the Bettis Laboratory, which developed nuclear reactors for the US Navy. After a large number of moves in the Pittsburgh area, three more daughters followed: Linda in February 1955, Kathy in June 1958 and 5 years later Laurie in April 1963.
In 1972 Bill was transferred to Idaho Falls, ID, where he worked as the quality control manager for the Naval Reactors Facility. He oversaw over 30 people including 25 inspectors, 5 engineers and 2 supervisors who were involved in the training of naval personnel for the nuclear navy. In 1975 he moved to Richland, WA, where he worked for Westinghouse Hanford. While there, he led a group of inspectors, engineers and two supervisors who were involved in the design and development of a breeder reactor known as the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) for the newly renamed Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the newly created Department of Energy. Bill stayed with Westinghouse Hanford until he retired in 1988.
Bill and Kay believed in vacation, both during their girls' early years and after Bill retired. Early trips included historic sites in Gettysburg, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia in PA, Richmond and Roanoke VA, and Kitty Hawk and the Outer Banks in NC. During her stay in Idaho, she spent many vacations at the Flying B Ranch, a resort ranch on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the Idaho wilderness. Entry was by plane, raft, horse or foot! Despite its isolation, the Flying B produced its own electricity and generated electricity using water from nearby Bush Creek. Daytime activities included horseback riding, hiking, swimming, and learning to rapids on the Middle Fork. Nighttime activities included pool cards or playing cards (there was no TV, no phone, and certainly no computers or internet). Everyone slept well in "B" in rustic private cabins that contained electricity, heat and indoor toilets.
After their retirement, Kay and Bill traveled around the United States and Canada in various motorhomes. They visited each of the 48 states and found that each state had many unique offerings. During their travels, they discovered Green Valley AZ, a retirement-only community. They bought a home in 1999, and during their decade there, Bill served as president of the local homeowners' association for six years. They stayed physically active and made use of some of the 12 leisure centers in GV by hiking (Bill), line dancing (Kay), and swimming and playing bridge (both). While living at GV, Bill became a lecturer at the nearby Titan Missile Museum and gave tours of the facility.
In 2009, health issues necessitated a change of address from Green Valley back to Richland, WA to be closer to family. The next decade and beyond had its ups and downs as Kay and Bill's health slowly declined. Bill's beloved Kay passed away last year (June 2020).
In 2014 Bill wrote a chronicle of his life entitled "The First 87 Years in the Life of Bill Hinkelman". At the end of the chronicle he wrote:
"Before I close, I have a message, especially for the grandchildren. Kay and I have visited almost all of the national parks in the United States on our travels. Our four daughters have been with us on some of these trips. I think that was one of the best things that we did for our girls. I urge you to do the same for your children to help them understand what a great nation America has become. "
No services are currently planned. Both Bill and Kay were cremated and their ashes are interred in Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Bill and Kay leave behind four daughters, six grandchildren (Zachary Zoeller, Jack Thompson, Matthew Hinkelman, Nicolas Hinkelman, Kamandi Roberts and Killian Roberts) and one granddaughter (Kelsey Thompson). Donations in memory of William (Bill) Hinkelman can be sent to pbs.org or pimaair.org/get-involved/donate/ who support the Titan Missile Museum.
Published in & from February 20-21, 2021.