William “Bill” Dale Bunce

Services for William “Bill” Dale Bunce, 90, will be on Saturday, April 27, 2024 at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home in Lawrence, Kansas with family visitation beginning at 10:00 a.m. and memorial service at 11:00 a.m. Bill passed peacefully in his home on April 17, 2024 with his children by his side. Born February 4, 1934 in Lawrence, KS, Bill was the son of Ralph Jay Bunce and Lillian Fern Avey Bunce.

Bill’s father worked heavy construction, which led the family to move frequently. Bill attended various schools in Lawrence, rural Lawrence, and McLouth, and he graduated from McLouth High School in 1954 where he excelled in football, basketball, and track. He then attended Pittsburg State University where he played a short stint on the football team before joining the workforce. Bill married Sandra Stevens and together they had three children: Lynn, Dale, and Kathie Bunce. Bill and Sandra later divorced.

In 1954, Bill worked as an employee of Bennett Construction—the general contractor that built Allen Fieldhouse. As a laborer, Bill poured concrete in all levels of Allen Fieldhouse except the first floor, and he was given the responsibility of working with a crew to install the original roof on Allen Fieldhouse. In December of 2022, Bill was honored at a University of Kansas men’s basketball halftime show with a standing ovation from Jayhawk fans celebrating 70 years since construction crews broke ground on Allen Fieldhouse. As one of the original laborers who helped build the greatest basketball arena in the country, this was a true honor for Bill to experience.

In 1955 Bill went to work on the construction of the Kansas Turnpike where he worked as an oiler on a crane. He then followed his father to Elkhart, Indiana where they worked together with a crew of the Western Construction Company on the Indiana turnpike. In 1958 Bill and his father started working on the new (at that time) Kansas City International airport—Bill ran a scraper while his father ran a grader. There are many roads and projects in the surrounding Lawrence area and in Kansas that Bill worked on, including the Missile Silos in Wichita, KS in 1961, the oil and gas fields for City Service in Kansas and Oklahoma, and the building of the Perry Reservoir.

Bill worked as a highly skilled heavy construction operating engineer and was a talented craftsman, a member of the Lawrence Regional Antique Auto Club Association, a skilled welder, a member of Operators Union Local 101 for 42 years, and a witty, creative, conversationalist. He was a volunteer in the Lawrence High School auto tech shop for ten years, and many former students still refer to him as “Grandpa.” Bill worked at Holiday Sand and Gravel/Lawrence Sand and Gravel for 22 years, and he finished his career working for LRM.

On August 1st, 1970 Bill married Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Skinner and created a family with Betty’s children: Connie Hadl Kamp, Patricia “Patty” Hadl, Michelle “Shelly” Miller Thornton, and Mike Miller. Together, Bill and Betty blended a family of seven children, which ultimately blessed Bill with 22 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. Bill and Betty were married for 48 years before Betty’s passing in 2019. During that time, Bill would showcase his craftsmanship every Valentine’s Day by gifting a unique, handcrafted Valentine to Betty—each year was different from the last,

some pieces were carved in wood while others were welded metal, but they all marked Bill’s love for Betty with a heart shape and “BB + BB” carved carefully within.

For approximately 12 years, Bill and Betty owned and operated Bunce Appliance in Tonganoxie, KS and were in partnership at The Home Center in Oskaloosa, KS. With a passion for antiquing and repurposing, Bill and Betty spent over 20 years selling antique treasures from their shop, Country Place Antiques, in Linwood, KS. Bill often wore his polka dotted hat and bib overalls while he enjoyed spending time in his shops, designing, welding, carving, and creating unique pieces, both for sale and as gifts for his friends and family: old bed frames turned into beautiful, ornate benches; an old lawn mower turned into a functional golf cart; an idea for a Christmas wedding turned into a full-size sleigh for his granddaughter’s wedding; wood and metal scraps turned into a base and mount for an excavated triceratops skull currently located in Martha’s Vineyard; a huge hackberry tree on his property turned into an amazing treehouse for his great-grandchildren, equipped with a full set of stairs and a pulley system and bucket for delivering snacks, rocks, leaves, or whatever other treasures they might find…Bill created thousands of one-of-a-kind, incredible structures and pieces of art. He had a wonderful ability to take worn antiques or pieces of furniture and refurnish them into new treasures—he would visualize the potential in the wood and metal and turn them into a keepsake. He was well-known for his talents and assisted many neighbors, friends, and family with whatever welding or fabrication project they needed—if people had an idea for a project, they could always count on Bill to assist.

Bill was a collector and craftsman of extraordinary talents. At any given time, Bill was surrounded by friends and family; he loved to talk antiques and projects from his shops, and he loved to share stories from his life. After celebrating his most recent birthday, Bill declared the only thing he didn’t like about being 90 was that his “tough was wearing off.” Bill was a true patriarch; he had a heart of gold, and he loved fiercely.

Bill is survived by a family that was blessed with his patience, his wisdom, his talents, and his love: Lynn and husband, Gary Heiserman, Shelly and husband, Larry Thornton, all of Lawrence; Dale and wife, Julie, of Ottawa, KS; Kathie and husband, Wayne Butler, of Temple, TX; and Mike and wife, Janice, of The Colony, TX; his 22 grandchildren; 36 of his great-grandchildren; and his two great-great-grandchildren. Bill was preceded in death by his wife Betty, his parents, brother Harold Bunce, daughters Patty Hadl and Connie Kamp, son-in-law Roy Kamp, and great-grandson William Meade.

Memorial contributions can be made to North Lawrence Christian Church, First Christian Church of Lawrence or Douglas County Visiting Nurses, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, P.O. Box 1260 Lawrence, Kansas 66044.

Messages & Condolences

From Sean Smith...

Amber and Family – Goodness, I have heard sooo much about your Grandfather over the years but your stories don’t begin to share all the things he did over his rich 90 years. What a man and what a blessing to his family, his community, and the countless people he touched through all the things he created. What a life. I hope this is a celebration of life as you remember his rich life.

From Julia (Gregg) Ingrassia...

Shelly, Mike, Dale and family, I am so deeply sorry to see this. Your dad (and grandfather) was always a gentle and kind soul. I remember when he and your mother married, how well all of you came together, your mother always had that same gentle spirit, they absolutely were a match. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you, there is never a “right time” to lose a loved one. All of you are in my heart and prayers.


Lynn & Shelly, thoughts & prayers for you & your families at the passing of your Dad, what a wonderful man he was❤️❤️

From Debbie Ione Shafer...

To Bills Family
Bill was a great person he was a good friend of my mom and dad when my husband worked as groundsmen Lawrence High Bill would stop by and help him they became great friends. Will miss seeing him on Sundays at church.
I will miss him. From Debbie S

From Ella...

I am glad Bill felt comfortable returning to his “old” church where he was an elder for many years. Happy, too, that he had a family reunion and card shower on his BD. I told him I would be up with him in 3 months. Bill will be missed.

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