Graveside services for Franklin C. Bidinger, 84, Clinton, will be at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Clinton Cemetery, with the Rev. Steve Bubna officiating, and Dr. Dan Neuenswander, vocalist.
Mr. Bidinger died Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011, at his home.
He was born June 1, 1926, in Stull, Kan., the son of Frank A. and Edith Gibler Bidinger. He graduated from Liberty Memorial High School.
Mr. Bidinger began working at a young age as a farmer and a body man for Winter Chevrolet, specializing in renovating totaled cars. He was a welder and machinist. He worked for the American Walnut Company, cutting and shipping logs to Kentucky and Louisiana. He traveled as a demonstrator for Dale Babbitt Electric Welding Alloys. He spent 20 years, including serving as supervisor, in the inside shop at the City of Lawrence Water Dept, followed by 12 years as Shop Foreman and Supervisor of Steam at the University of Kansas.
He began playing fast pitch softball at the age of 12. He had a sneaky fast ball and a dazzling knuckler. With him pitching and his father catching, they formed the rare father-son battery combination. The Clinton teams played in state tournament play for four years, ending in 1958. In 1955, the team won fourth place in the state competition. He later played competitively for numerous sponsored teams, including the Metzger’s, who made a bid for a national title in 1968 in Clearwater, Fla. He had a myriad of hobbies over the years, none of which he invested in lightly. Some of his hobbies include coon hunting, breeding angel fish, raising and selling minks, gardening, and encouraging the environmental use of purple martins. He was known as the Bird Man, and established the Purple Martin Sanctuary in Clinton with his wife, Betty. During his best year of housing martins, he counted over 300 pairs of martins, many of which returned the next year.
He married June Tate in 1953. They later divorced. He married Bethany Louise “Betty” Neuenswander on Dec. 27, 1978, in Colony, Kan. She survives of the home
Other survivors include a son, Kit Bidinger, Topeka; six step sons, John Oehlert and wife DeVonna, Paul Oehlert and wife Kris, and Luke Oehlert and wife Sheri, all of Lawrence, Mike Oehlert and wife Robbye, Round Rock, Tex., William Oehlert and wife Paula, La Porte, Tex., and Dan Oehlert, Eudora; four step daughters, Janie Landau and husband Rex, Lawrence, Mary Oehlert, Kansas City, Kan., Beth Sherman and husband Roy, McPherson, and Pat Oehlert, Hutchinson; a sister, Rita Harrison, Clinton; two grandchildren, Misty Stofer and Leslee Kennedy; 22 step grandchildren, two great grandchildren, 20 step-great grandchildren, two nephews, Dana and Curt, and three nieces, Tina, Denise, and Diana.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and a son, Michael in 2009.
Friends may call from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, where the family will receive them from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. A procession to the cemetery will follow the visitation.
The family suggests memorial contributions to the Clinton Historical Society, for the establishment of a bird aviary in Mr. Bidinger’s memory, in care of the funeral home, 601 Ind., Lawrence, KS, 66044.
Messages & Condolences
Dear Betty, Jane and family, I am so sad to hear of your loss. Your Dad and husband was a great humanitarian and person! He will live in all our hearts forever. My prayers are with you and the family. I love you all. Mary Hacker.
Dear Betty and family,
Franklin’s smile seemed to always be a part of his face and was so sincere! I remember the tour we got some years ago in Clinton of the purple martin complex in the back yard. I thought of that as I was reading the obituary today.
I’m so glad we got to see him again in May when we came for the Gill family reunion! I’m so very happy that dear Mary got us all to come to Lawrence in 2010! We all needed to come and be together as a family again. We should continue to do that in the years to come!
We give you our love and deepest sympathy along with our prayers! The Lord be with you always!
Anne and John and family
Dearest Betty and Family,
I must admit, that we didn’t know Franklin very well, we only met him on a handful of occasions, but he always treated us as long lost family members and made us feel truly welcome.
I know this will be a hard loss for everyone and wanted you to know our thoughts and prayers will be with you.
Keep your face to the sun and memories close to your hearts.
Love, Bill and Linda
Franklin, was my stepfather and friend. He taught me so much about being a man and life.
I will miss his storytelling the most. He was the most naturally gifted storyteller there ever was. Bye Franklin…you are loved and will be missed.
Franklin was a “big deal” in our family’s life. He was a nature lover and knew about every single bird. This is the time of year his purple martins would be returning to Clinton. I used to start calling about this time every year to see if the first bird had made it yet. We loved Franklin and Betty. Franklin lost his oldest son a year ago. This was incredibly hard for Franklin to endure. Now he and Mike are together again!
Dear Betty, I was sorry to hear of Franklin’s death. He was such an example of joy and lovingkindness. Just know that from Newark, Ohio, my prayers are with you. You are much loved. David Hallenbeck
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