A Birthday Wish to an Old BC Soldier
Thanks for Coming Our Way: A Birthday Wish to an Old BC Soldier
July 14, 2014
Dear Bluefield College:
World War II soldier Bill Stevens, 1944.
Bill's wife, Betty, 1947.
Bill (right) with BC's Steve Spangler in 2008.
Many years after graduation from BC in 1948, and looking back, Bill – William Albert Stevens, Jr. of Strasburg, Virginia, born September 26, 1924 and my husband of 65 years – realized what Bluefield College had done for him. He was at a very difficult crossroad when he first arrived, the turning point of his struggling life, he recalls:
“Standing in line for the registrar, I lost my nerve. The registrar responded, ‘How is that Bill?’ My head shook, my whole body shook. I was physically and mentally dragging around what was left of me as a drafted World War II soldier, a combat-wounded, Purple Heart veteran. ‘I don’t think I feel up to it,’ I told him. He responded: ‘Thanks for coming our way, Bill. Give us a chance. Let’s see what we can do.’”
A few months later, Bill said he was seeing the light on his way. Miracles were being performed at BC, as they wrapped their arms and hearts around all the veterans. Even before the war, Bill tells us of how he had pushed himself to the limit to help his family survive The Great Depression. Then, living in foxholes in Europe in the coldest weather in 100 years and surviving the landing at Normandy and five operations on his wounded leg, hit by a machine gun. So many blessings! And blessed again at Bluefield College. After BC, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee before beginning a wonderful 30-year career with the U.S. Public Health Service.
He has had a great life, as a husband of 65 years, a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather. He feels good about his service in the greatest of wars. He will readily tell you he gave much of himself, but he feels good about helping innocent people who could not help themselves. I can tell you for a fact that old soldiers do cry; they never forget the horrors of war or the loss of buddies.
Now, together, we see our part as a family and BC’s part in saving his “sinking” ship. Bill thanks each of us for coming his way. We welcome the chance to join him to return the sentiment the BC registrar gave him – remarks that Bill says touched him deeply, turned him around, and inspired and stirred his soul with strength and hope. We, as a family, invite the Bluefield College family to join us in wishing our old soldier a happy 90th birthday (September 26, 2014).
Bill Stevens, one of BC’s oldest living alums, will turn 90 on September 26, 2014. Send birthday greetings to William A. Stevens, Jr., 20 Ruth Court, Strasburg, VA 22657, or post your greetings in the comments section below.