William Flanders

Obituary of William A. Flanders

William "Bill" Flanders passed away on October 18, 2023, at 100 years of age, in his home at Hunt Lea Condominiums near Chautauqua. Despite his failing health over the past two months, he remained active and engaged with his friends and family, winning his last game of Mexican Train dominoes five days ago. Bill was born near Stow, Chautauqua County, New York, on December 15, 1922, to Irene and Fay Flanders. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Virginia Patchen, and his wife of over fifty years, Carol (Erwin) Flanders. He is survived by his daughter, Chris Flanders, and her partner, Peaches Wagner, his son, Bob Flanders, and his wife, Annie. His grandchildren are Nick Robinson (Kristen) of Delaware, Ohio, James Robinson (Shana) of Raymond, Ohio, Andrew Flanders of Baltimore, and Matthew Flanders of Houston. His great-grandchildren are Alden Robinson, Lucy Robinson, and Greta Robinson, all of Delaware, Ohio. His great- great-grandson is Theo Robinson of Delaware, Ohio. He is also survived by his companion of many years, Caroline Bissell of Scottsdale, Arizona. Bill graduated from Chautauqua Central School and attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in mechanical engineering. His education was interrupted by WW II. After his service, he completed his degree. His first job was with Proctor & Gamble, where he was to set up new factories across the country. He decided he would not put his family through such an unsettled life and returned to build and design homes with his father under the name of Fay Flanders & Son in Chautauqua County. He is well known for the over 100 homes he has built or retrofitted inside the Chautauqua Institution. He was active, with his wife Carol, for 30 years in the American Field Service program, placing foreign students in the local Western New York area. He became a shoulder to lean on for many homesick teenagers. He was brought into AFS by his close friend, Florence Norton. He later developed a teacher exchange program that was very successful. During the 1960s, Bill partnered with his friend Wayne Vergith to purchase the Turner Lumber and Hardware Store in Mayville, New York. This was an asset to the community, supplying building supplies throughout the Mayville and Chautauqua area. Bill's greatest joy was providing summer and part-time work to young college students with whom he has developed life-long friendships. He designed and made possible, with partners, the Hunt Lea Condominiums across from the Turner School. It provided housing and a community for those who wanted to downsize but stay close to Chautauqua. He was instrumental in starting the Chautauqua Playreaders, headed by his friend Bob McClure. He was a frequent participant, often playing an old curmudgeon or a very outspoken man. He co-authored a Postcard Chautauqua Institution History with John Schmitz of the Chautauqua Archives. He was the archive's go-to person, identifying many old photos and postcards. He always said that you are never too old to try something new. On his 100th birthday last December, he gave 150 of his friends a PowerPoint presentation. His presentation is available as Bill Flanders's 100 Years and Counting on YouTube. He lived young for over 100 years. He will be missed but well remembered. Lind Funeral Home is taking care of arrangements for us. There will be no funeral and sadness now but a Memorial Service to honor him with happiness next June.
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