On Monday night March 23rd Billy Thomas Chafin finished his favorite meal of red beans and cornbread, closed his eyes and went to sleep for the last time with his family by his side, 15 years after the expiration date of 2005 his cancer doctors had imposed upon him.
Born the youngest of 2 children in Paris, Texas on February 5, 1930, he and his family Joseph Coy Chafin, Ruth (Smith) Chafin and sister Patsy Ruth (Chafin) Braudrick moved to Hugo in 1932 and began their lifetime association here.
He met the love of his life, Margaret Ann (Knox) Chafin at the bicycle rack in junior high school and was a proud member of the Hugo High football team in the mid 1940's that won so many playoff games and played but didn’t win the big game.
On August 4, 1950 he married Margaret before reporting for duty when the Hugo National Guard was activated to deploy to Korea and his oldest son, John was born before he returned. While in Korea most combat confrontations were not North Koreans, but Chinese and they constantly left flyers and made radio broadcasts locally saying “Yanks go home”, “You don't want to be here” and “You can't win, go home”, but obviously the U.S. Didn't give up and South Korea benefitted.
After Korea he worked for Phillips Petroleum in Borger, Texas where his oldest daughter, Ann was born. In the mid-1950's Bill and Margaret went to OSU (it was A & M at the time) to finish their educations and celebrated the birth or their 3rd child, Cindy. After earning a degree in Chemical Engineering, Bill went to work for Kerr-McGee Oil in Cushing, OK. where their 4th and final child, Scott was born.
A decade with the Dow Chemical Company took the family to Tulsa, OK., Salt Lake City, UT. and East Alton, IL (part of metropolitan St. Louis) before ending up in Arlington, TX.
Bill worked for and retired from the Texas Air Control Board with a distinguished career as the author of the guidelines for acceptable pollution levels of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) businesses and industry could give off during manufacturing operations, as well as the testing standards and procedures to be followed by the State of Texas for regulating those industries. A year or two after Texas established these standards the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) adopted these same standards and procedures for Federal enforcement.
Bill was a member of the Forth and Jackson St. Church of Christ. He loved fishing, traveling in the fifth wheel RV, problem solving (both those problems in front of him as well as those he solved in his head), spending time with his grand-kids and great-grand-kids, eating catfish, crappie or bass, or his all-time favorite, red beans and cornbread and, of course football.
Bill loved and lived football for 8 decades. He never missed a game when either of his sons played in junior high or high school. He sometimes watched multiple TV stations at the same time and a few times had multiple TVs and/or radios with games going on all of them; and he was crushed, but felt very strongly when he realized he could no longer support professional football when players were allowed to so flagrantly and publicly disrespect and dishonor that symbol of his nation he had served during active duty in Korea so many decades ago.
He moved back to Hugo from Arlington because he wanted to finish his life in Hugo where he grew up and fell in love. He sometimes wrote articles published in the Hugo Daily News under the title “Ramblings of an Old Man”. Some of you may have seen some of them. He loved growing up in Hugo, and he loved living here again.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, (J. Coy Chafin, Ruth (Smith) Chafin); his brother-in-law, John Braudrick; his sister-in-law, Patsy Ruth (Knox) Payne Leonard, and her husband, Walter Leonard; Pat Leonard's oldest daughter, (Bill's niece) Judy (Payne) Bevins; and great-grandson, Austin Stratton.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret (Hugo); Son, John Chafin (Hugo); Daughter, Cindy Chafin (Hugo); Daughter, Ann (Chafin) Stratton, and Husband, Brooks Stratton (West Virginia); Son, Scott Chafin (New Mexico); sister, Patsy Ruth (Chafin) Braudrick (Hugo); nephew, Joey Braudrick (Hugo); grand-kids, Eric Stratton, and wife Kwan (West Virginia); Joshua Stratton, and wife Latasha (West Virginia, currently working in Atoka, OK); Jordan (Chafin) Hamon, and husband Ryan (Ft. Worth, TX.); Erika (Chafin) Davis, and husband Garrett (Richardson, TX); 10 great-grand kids and 1 great-great-grand daughter as well as a lifetime of good friends, neighbors and adopted family members.
Due to the unprecedented difficulties brought about by the China Virus and Social Distancing, and adding in the different restrictions from multiple states, convenient scheduling of out-of-town family members has yet to present a satisfactory conclusion. A small group of family and friends will get together at the cemetary for a short memorial and burial this weekend. Who would have thought that 68 years after the Chinese told him to “Go Home” that the Chinese would send us a virus gift making it difficult to even bury him.
Thanks to Hugo and Choctaw County for being what Billy Chafin loved to call home.
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