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Garthoeffner, William C.

garth jpegMay 8, 2020


William C. (Bill) Garthoeffner, aged 93, passed away peacefully May 8, 2020 with his beloved wife by his side. When asked to describe Bill, in one word, his family and friends were quick to respond with; stable, balanced, calm, thoughtful, intelligent, welcoming, curious, kind and a dear and loving husband. Bill’s Grandson Joe said, “Grandpa always took his time to open any gifts he was given so carefully with his pocket knife. Christmas Eves’ were always spent with Grandpa and Grandma. Bill was such a patient, even tempered individual. He was a great grandfather and he was a great example of love, patience, and kindness”.

Bill was born December 2, 1926 to William C. Garthoeffner, Sr. and Mary Shively Garthoeffner. He was preceded in death by his parents and his much loved step-son Robert Gresham and dear grandson Benjamin Gresham.

Bill enlisted in the United States Navy when he was 17, serving in “the Battle of Norman, Oklahoma” studying electrical engineering in a Navy program at O.U.

Following the war, Bill decided to become a Roman Catholic priest, attending seminaries in Denver, CO, and Catholic University in Washington D.C. He was ordained in 1953. He later studied Canon Law for 3 years at the American College in Rome.

Whilst in Rome, Bill was witness to the beginning of a new era in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, initiated by Saint John XXIII, I whose openness to change was shown especially in his convoking of the Second Vatican Council. Bill had the opportunity to witness historic daily Council activities and events. This new beginning in the church had a profound influence on him and his later direction in life.

Returning to Oklahoma City, he served the Church as Chancellor of the Oklahoma City Diocese and as a parish priest. In 1973 he received a Master of Social Work Degree from O.U. and was appointed Director of Catholic Social Ministries during a transformative time in that agency’s history. One of his proudest accomplishments was initiating a program which eventually resettled thousands of Vietnamese families and other Southeast Asian refugees to Oklahoma City following the fall of Saigon in 1975.

In 1977 Bill resigned from the priesthood and married his former social work classmate and love of his life Jane. We were blessed by the kindness, love and commitment Bill brought into our family. He continued his service to the community through various social service agencies and in Mental Health Administration.

Bill was an avid Ham Radio Operator. License W5QMP. Philip, Bill’s eldest grandson, wrote “an amateur radio operator who mentors someone is called an Elmer, and aside from being my grandpa, Bill was just that. My earliest memories of him are of going into his “ham shack” and watching him talking all around the world on shortwave. In the fall of 1999 when I was twelve years old, I went to ham radio license classes with him in the Edmond City Hall, and though I barely knew long division, he helped me learn about electronics, radio waves, and Morse code. For years after he would often whistle Morse code messages to me for me to decode. He inspired me to be ever curious about technology and the world, to never stop learning, and to always strive to live the most interesting life I can.”

Jane commented, whilst we were reminiscing about Bill’s life, that unlike many husbands Bill never gave advice, unless you directly asked for it. Bill could be called a renaissance-man. He gave selflessly to all, but knowing him was his greatest gift to us. His survivors are: his beloved wife Jane Garthoeffner, stepsons Peter and Sam, daughters-in-law Amy and Lyn, grandchildren Philip and partner Colleen; Daniel, Molly, Joe and partner Jessica; Mollie and husband Sean; Billy and partner Reilly and his great grandchildren, Oliver, Skye and Ari who made his eyes sparkle and his smile brighten. “It is not length of life, but depth of life”. (Emerson Ralph Waldo).

Rest in Peace Bill,
Your Loving Family

The family would like to suggest any memorial donations in Bill’s name, be made to the Dorothy Day Food Bank at St Charles Borromeo , 5024 N. Grove, OKC 73122