Bill was born in McPherson, KS, to Galen and Mary (Russel) Barrett on Sept. 16, 1925. He grew up on the family dairy farm, graduating from McPherson High School in 1943. He enlisted in the Navy, serving as an ensign and airplane navigator during WWII. Upon returning, he attended Kansas State University, graduating in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He then began a long career with Phillips Petroleum, first stationed at Borger, TX. He moved to Bartlesville in 1951. There, he met his future wife and love of his live, Wanda Beth Hunter, of Nowata, OK. They were married on April 9, 1955, in the bride’s hometown.
In the early 1950s, Bill took a leave of absence to attend Harvard Business School in Boston, MA, graduating with an MBA degree in 1954. Returning to Bartlesville, he continued to work for Phillips and its plastics-focused subsidiaries Sealright and Phillips Products, serving stints in Providence, RI, Fulton, NY, Overland Park, KS, Hopkinsville, KY, and Elgin, IL. He subsequently led a buy-out of Phillips Products in 1982, becoming CEO of Duraco, which manufactured mainly plastic flower pots. He led Duraco until his retirement in 1992, continuing to serve as chairman of the board until 1999. He and his wife Beth returned to Bartlesville in 1997.
Both Bill and Beth were devout Christians showing great generosity and integrity, and were dedicated servants in the Baptist church wherever they lived, especially for over 20 years at the First Baptist Church of Elgin, IL. Bill was also active in and served on the Board of Directors of Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, YMCA and United Way while in Elgin. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Bartlesville at the time of his death.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Lawrence Barrett and Russel Barrett and sisters Elizabeth Barrett and Marian (Barrett) Olson. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, his sisters Dorothy Gail (Barrett) Caflisch and Patricia (Barrett) Gibson, as well as his children: Martha (Gunn) Brown and husband Steve of Lowell, AR, and their children Allen and Sarah Easterling and husband Andrew; Bradley Barrett and wife Mary of Neodesha, KS; Kirk Barrett and wife Margaret McBrien of South Orange, NJ; and Rebecca (Barrett) Wisser and husband Rick of Conover, NC.
In addition, Bill and Beth took many foster children into their home over the decades and continued to consider many of them family, including Andre Hernandez and wife Jennifer of California. Bill is also survived by seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Bill’s family will receive friends on Wednesday, Sept. 19, from 6-8 p.m. at Davis Family Funeral Home – Walker Brown Chapel, 918-333-7665, 4201 Nowata Rd, Bartlesville. Visitation will also be held on Wednesday from 10-8 and Thursday 9-11. In lieu of flowers memorials may be given to Oklahoma Baptist Home for Children, 3800 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73112-6506 or www.obhc.org
Funeral services will be held 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, at the First Baptist Church, 405 S Cherokee Ave, Bartlesville, with Rev. Tom Cox officiating. Services are under the direction of Carter Davis and the Davis Family Funeral Home – Walker Brown Chapel. Online condolences and remembrances may be shared at www.DavisFamilyFuneralHome.com.
Reverend Tom Cox