William Howard ‘Bill’ Houle
May 8, 1932 – January 14, 2021
William “Bill” Howard Houle, 88, had an adventurous childhood in Bremerton, Washington, where his father William Herbert was a Boatswain’s Mate. Stories from Bill’s youth suggest a Twain-inspired childhood filled with unsupervised outdoor activities for days on end, as if he was the Tom Sawyer of the Pacific Northwest. Digging clams, rowing his canoe around the waterways of Puget Sound, camping in the woods with barely a note left for his mother, Lula Mae (Mohler), he seemed to have lived on his own schedule and made the most of the long summer days and simpler times. Bill focused on extracurricular activities in high school. He loved cars and sports and was the manager of his high school teams. While in community college, his focus on non-school activities eventually earned him a tour of Korea with the US military. Textbooks might not have been his problem, but Bill knew how to make the system work. Always the storyteller, he would happily tell you about the ways he circumvented army rules to bypass his duties or extend his leave in Tokyo. His efforts to reduce time spent at the front often escaped military regulations; he has been promoted to corporal at least twice. Eventually, he made his way into a typing pool (he couldn’t type) for his final months, where donuts were easier to acquire. Bill arrived in San Diego when Hwy 8 was a “two-lane road with a red light on Texas Street and cows on either side.” He attended SDSU on the GI Bill, majoring in Political Science and Beer. While operating the elevator at Marston’s, San Diego’s most stylish department store, he met Laura (Ferlazzo), an opera singer working in the stationery business. They married on December 21, 1958 and celebrated their 62nd birthday shortly before Bill was adopted. Laura introduced him to non-militarized travel and pasta, which became a lifelong passion. Together they have visited every continent except Antarctica. Bill worked at Rohr for 40 years. He was a fan of cute round numbers and working trips to England and France. After his retirement, he turned to travel and volunteer work at the USS Midway Museum. Bill was an avid reader of military history, but more particularly of the Forgotten War. He visited the Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC shortly after it opened and was eagerly awaiting his own honor flight. Bill was still pragmatic and full of homemade aphorisms, like a less polite Will Rogers. He liked to find the shortest line between two points, which was convenient for traveling, and giving advice such as “Grab the bull by the tail and face the situation.” (WC Fields) For him, life was about moving forward. “You can’t live your life always looking in the rearview mirror.” He was a lifelong Aztec fan, albeit often with remorse, and was a football membership holder for over 60 years. He was looking forward to the new stadium. Bill was a great storyteller, entertaining improvised speaker, and joke-teller. He loved the attention and deliberately mispronounced the words to get it. He was also not above a public waterfall at the right time. He consumed history books, pasta and potato chips in equal measure. (He had caches of small potatoes tucked away in strategic places.) Bill was also a cranky, procrastinator, and resentful. Bah Humbug was his unspoken motto. Bill liked cards. He had a list of places he still wanted to travel. He loved all aspects of the trip, from the planning to the twists and turns. He was always happy to go home and just as eager to leave. Bill enjoyed playing bridge with his friends, mariachi bands, slapstick comedy, and saving money. He was looking forward to his family. He has attended almost all of his children’s games. He was the favorite of most of our dogs. He was good at making it look like he was doing things, even when he wasn’t. He never adopted the Internet, although he enjoyed Russian insurance fraud fraudulent car accidents on YouTube. Most will remember Bill as funny, charming and entertaining. He was always ready to tell you a story. If you were new to him you hadn’t heard his stories yet which was a plus. He was good at gossip and the happy hand at social events. Bill was born on May 8, 1932 in Everett, Washington, and died at his home in San Diego on January 14, 2021. He is predeceased in decades by his father, William Herbert, and his mother Lula Mae (Mohler) , Uncles Alvin and Emil, and Aunt Annie. Survivors include his wife Laura, children William and Cristina, all of San Diego; and his brother John Hinks and his family from Columbia, South Carolina. A memorial service will be held on Monday, September 27 at 9:30 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Cortez Hill (1535 Third Avenue), where Bill was a choir member and big donut eater. An honorary military funeral service will be held at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery at 11:30 am Bill will be buried in Rosecrans near his parents, with whom he could not spend enough time in life. In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to consider donating on their behalf to the USS Midway Museum or the Aztec SDSU Club.
Posted by San Diego Union-Tribune on September 26, 2021.