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BILL DOENGES: The Flow of My Life

Thursday, October 21, 2021
BILL DOENGES: The Flow of My Life
BILL DOENGES: The Flow of My Life

September 25, 2021

William “Bill” Soland Doenges entered the flow of life February 9, 1938 and left it September 25, 2021. The 83 year old was born at the nearest hospital to Tonkawa, Oklahoma to the most proud of parents, William Conrad Doenges and Elizabeth C. Shannon Doenges.

Bill was the oldest of four children. His younger siblings are: Robert Shannon “Bob,” born 1940, James Davis “Buddy,” 1948-2016 and Rebecca “Becky” Doenges Dillon, 1950-2010.

In 1960, Bill married his high school sweetheart, Mary Elizabeth, “Betsy” Burgess, and the couple welcomed three sons into the world together, were married for 28 years and remained close friends throughout his life time.

Bill is survived by his brother Bob, his three children; William Bradley (Kimberly), Robert Gary (Wanda), and James Bruce (Angela); five grandchildren: William Ward Doenges, Boden King Doenges, Emily Catherine Doenges, Jacob Soland Doenges, Caleb Michael James Doenges; three step grandchildren: Elisabeth Barton, Chase Blackard and Reed Blackard; great grandson Levi Nicholas Blackard, and many nieces and nephews.

Bill and Betsy hosted two exchange students in the 1970s who are still today woven into the fabric of the Doenges family: Wouter Bering and Wolfgang Richter.

Bill also felt it one of life’s great honors to be there as the children of his former wife, Linda grew into adulthood. Her children are B.R. (Kamaren) Ritzhaupt and Catherine (Brian) Ritzhaupt McCrea. Their children are: Rex, Hank and Daisy Ritzhaupt, and Molly and Jackson McCrea. Bill and Linda were married for 18 years until 2012, and remained friends throughout his life.

As a career, Bill touted the partnership of he and his brother, Bob for successfully building on their father’s Ford dealerships and expanded businesses. He also obtained a law degree from the University of Tulsa, and did not shy away from community governance. Under his advocacy, Oklahoma became a national leader in child abuse prevention and early childhood education, and together Bill and Betsy helped lead the charge to peacefully desegregate Tulsa Public Schools.

When life handed him leadership, Bill says the experience of 4-H taught him to embrace it. So whether being inducted into the Oklahoma 4-H Hall of Fame or as a Boys State Gubernatorial candidate in his youth… to the multiple roles within the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce or as a dealer representative to the national Ford company in adulthood, people thrust leadership upon him thanks to his unassuming, whole-hearted nature of enjoying the process of leadership not for its power but how its positive navigation can provide better tomorrows for family and community, and loving the people he’d meet along the way.

When Bill sold Eddie Sutton his first family car, he created a returning client throughout the career of this Oklahoma Sports Hall of Famer. When his family discovered the joy of running, he helped bring Tulsa Run to town. When the city invited Gold Medalist Frank Shorter to promote the race, the Olympian befriended Bill.

When art spoke to him he listened. When mystics whispered he heard. And when travel beckoned, he took it.

“The flow of the river is how I’ve visualized my life; as a relatively fast stream, weaving through and flowing over the rocks in my path. So, when I think back on my life I can’t have regrets…I can only stand in awe at the wonder of it all.”

In lieu of flowers, the family would be honored by a memorial donation placed in his name to either of the following:

Oklahoma 4-H Foundation Ira Holler Scholarship Fund www. donate, 205 4-H Youth Development Building, Stillwater, OK 74078-6063

Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness ,, 421 NW 13th St, Suite 270, Oklahoma City, OK 73103

A life celebration for Bill will be held November 4th, 2021 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Grange at Tulsa Botanic Garden, 3900 Tulsa Botanic Garden Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74127. Casual attire is welcome. Please wear a mask.