James William "Bill" Fortenberry was born on October 19th, 1921 in Cherokee Community near Woodville, Texas and passed away peacefully on October 4th, 2011 in Natchitoches, Louisiana. He was preceded in death by his wife, of 56 years Vera Mae Kelsoe "Kay" Fortenberry. His parents, Faye and Hill Fortenberry, mother-in-law and father-in law, Horace and Ozelle "Lessie" Kelsoe and son-in-law H.Ernest "Butch" Dumke,Jr.
Bill is survived by his daughter, Mary K."Micki" Dumke, his granddaughter, Kelli M Dumke Meyer and husband Chris and their two children,Wesley and Claira Meyer. He is also survived by his brother, Bobby Joe Fortenberry and wife Jean Marie. Their children Karen Henderson and husband John, Barbara Mason and husband Butch, Wyolene Davis and Robin Fortenberry. Great- Nieces include Kristi Henderson and her two daughters, Taylor and Tiffany; Katy Westcott and husband Bobby and their two sons, Ryan and Logan. Also are Great-Nephew Jeremy Gibbons and daughter, Great-Niece Ashley Dufresne and husband Matt, and their daughters Reese and Lilian.
He is also survived and would not have made it as far as it did without the help of his beloved friend Frank Colbert.
Bill inherited his infectious sense of humor from his father, Hill and shared it with his little brother Bobby. He graduated from Kirbyville High School in Woodville, Texas in 1938 at the age of 16. He served in the Army Air Corp. from 1942- 45, first as a teacher on the B-24 bomber then as a pilot over- seas. He was shot down over Italy and for 17 months he was in a P.O.W. Camp in Barth, Germany. Upon his return home, he married the love of his life, Kay, and carried out his promise to never leave her side until her passing in 2004. Shortly before Bill graduated from the Loyola University of the South, in New Orleans as a pharmacist, Kay gave birth to their daughter Mary K. Bill, Kay and Mary K. then later moved to Natchitoches in 1950.
He owned the old Levy Drug, located on Front Street, then the Gibson Pharmacy on Keyser Avenue, where he took on a partner Avery East. The Fortenberry - East Gibson's pharmacy was the freestanding pharmacy on the corner of Bienville and East 5th Street. After retirement, Bill enjoyed golfing, fishing, daily crosswords as well as coin collecting. He was a life-long member of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, a member of the American Legion, Veteran's of Foreign War and Disabled Veterans.
Viewing will be at Blanchard-St. Denis funeral home on Friday, October 7th from 5 to 7 in the evening with a rosary service beginning at 7 PM. Services are at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Church on Saturday, October 8th, 2011 at 11 AM. Burial will be at the Catholic Cemetery in a mausoleum next to his beloved Kay. Flowers are a generous gift, but a more generous gift would be a donation to the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception or a charity of your choice.
The family would like to thank Dr. Otis Barnum, M.D., Meg Fitzhugh, P.A., Hospice of Natchitoches, and the nursing staff at Courtyard of Natchitoches for all of their loving care and help.