WILLIAM BOWKER PRESTON, IV

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“William Bowker Preston, IV,” is the name William Bowker Preston, III and his wife, Mabel Amussen Preston gave their first child who was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 20, 1913. William Shakespeare once asked: “What’s in a name?” Well, it seems there’s quite a history behind the name “William Bowker Preston, IV,” You see, the first William Bowker Preston was a prominent figure in Utah history. He was instrumental in settling southern Idaho, Preston, Idaho plus the Cache Valley Utah areas. He was the third presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So with this history in mind, it would seem highly unlikely that these young parents would break the chain of the “William Bowker Prestons.” The only problem was how to keep each William Bowker's individual identity straight? This is how it played out: the first William Bowker was known as “William.” His son, William Bowker Preston, Jr., answered to “Bowker,” and the third William Bowker took on the nickname of “Booker,” or as his wife Mabel called him "Book." So when William Bowker Preston, IV was born, he came to be known as “Bill.” This is his life story.

As an infant and toddler, Bill lived with his parents and younger brother, Richard, in Chicago where his father was attending medial school. Eventually, the family moved to Logan, Utah and two more children blessed their home: a daughter, Barbara Ann, and the baby of the family, Robert de Preston.

Bill attended grades K through 12 in Logan, Utah. During his years at Logan High, he was active in ROTC and was elected president of both the junior and senior classes. Upon high school graduation in 1931, Bill was accepted at Utah State Agricultural College. (Utah State University.) He continued his activity in ROTC at USAC and was also an active member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Bill received a degree in electrical engineering, and continued on to complete one year of graduate school in pre-med at the Logan college.

As fate would have it, Juana Peterson and her sister,Leah, from Richfield, Utah in southern Utah were in Logan attending USAC at the same time Bill was doing his studies there. Bill became acquainted with the Peterson sisters at some of the fraternity parties, and when he learned that they were renting a room in a motel while looking for a permanent place to stay, he suggested the Salisbury Apartments right next door to where he lived with his family. Bill had an ulterior motive, and his plan worked, and the sisters moved into the tiny third-floor apartment on East Center. Thus began a long association between Bill Preston and Juana Peterson. Many evenings Bill could be found at the Salisbury Apartment visiting the Peterson girls. Every night, at 10 P.M. on the dot, the phone rang, and Bill would announce: "That's my dad. Tell him I just left." He would dash out of the little apartment, race down the three flights of stairs, dart across the front lawn, and bound through the front door of his family home just as his father was hanging up the phone. For their four years at USAC Bill and Juana became very close friends.

After Bill and Juana graduated from USAC, Juana moved to Salt Lake City and worked as a secretary at Stravell Patterson. Bill continued at USAC for a year of pre-med studies, and then from July 1936 to June 1937 Bill was in Fort Warden in Washington State as a 2nd Lieutenant serving as Battery Commander in Battery E. 14th C. A. under the Thomason Act as the Mess Officer. Bill and Juana kept their friendship alive through letters during this long year of separation.

When Bill returned to Utah from Fort Warden, he and Juana started making wedding plans. It is conceivable that there was a discussion about where their temple marriage should take place. With the Preston family in Logan, and since Bill’s grandmother, Barbara Ammusen, had worked in the Logan Temple for many years, along with the Preston family lore that one of their ancestors helped build that temple, the Logan Temple seemed to be the ideal location for their wedding.

On the other hand, Juana’s father, James Martin Peterson (J.M.) was serving as a counselor to the Manti Temple president and would be able to perform the ceremony sealing his daughter to Bill. Juana’s dad was also very ill at the time, and travel to Logan for the wedding was not feasible for Mr. Peterson. So it was decided that Bill and Juana would be married in the LDS Temple in Manti, Utah with her father as the officiator. As their plans evolved, Father Peterson’s health deteriorated rapidly, and, unfortunately, on the day of their wedding, Juana’s father was too ill to participate in the marriage. Notwithstanding, the wedding took place on September 2, 1937, as planned in Manti, Utah. Following the wedding, Bill and Juana were honored at a simple family luncheon and that afternoon raced off to Salt Lake City. There they boarded a train to St. Louis, Missouri where Bill had been accepted to medical school at the University of Washington.

With World War II escalating, and med school not to his liking, Bill chose to move his career. He entered active duty as a 1st Lieutenant. He was the Battery Commander, HQ&HQ Battery 65th at Fort Barry, California.

Two months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Bill and Juana were in San Francisco where Peggy, their first daughter, was born on September 30, or October 1, 1940. (The date of Peggy’s birth is uncertain. Perhaps she began her entrance into this earthly realm two seconds before midnight on September 30 and made her final appearance a second after the strike of twelve. For years, Peggy thought she was born on Oct. 1. And maybe in the trauma of the childbirth -- Juana was in labor for three days -- Juana thought her baby was born Oct. 1). However the hospital records indicate Peggy's birth date as September 30. Go figure!)

Bill was then stationed at Fort Haan in Riverside, California. On 3 February 1942 Bill was a Commissioned Officer with the 601 CA AA Regiment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and at Fort Bliss, Texas where their second daughter, Paulette (Polly), was born.

With war escalating, it was only a matter of time before Bill would be called up for active duty. That call came while he was at Fort Bliss, and in January of 1944, Bill was on his way to the European Theater of World War II. By this time, Bill was a Major and assigned as a supply officer. From Texas he was sent to New York along with thousands of other soldiers where they awaited passage across the Atlantic.

Bill was first stationed in England where he acquired food and lodging for his company. Driving an open jeep around England in the middle of winter to procure supplies for his men, Bill, who did not have a winter overcoat, became extremely ill and ended up with pneumonia in an English hospital. Having almost died from a serious case of pneumonia just one year ago in the states, Bill did not want to worry his family back home with the fact that he was laid up in a hospital bed in England. For close to a month, his daily letters home carried news about random things that were happening in the area. Not until he was released from the hospital and on a train to join his company that had been stationed in a neighboring area, did he disclose the fact that he almost died again from his archenemy, pneumonia. The first thing Bill acquired when he rejoined his men, was a cover for his jeep and a warm, winter overcoat.

During Bill’s two-year assignment overseas, he was in France at Normandy and in Belgium at the Battle of the Bulge. He participated in the Battle at Ardennes, the European/Aftican Middle European Campaign, the Rhineland and Northern France Campaingns, and was in Germany when the Nazis surrendered. He served active duty from 8 March 1940 to 28 December 1946, a total of seven years. He received the following recognitions:

American Defense Service Ribbon

American Theater Ribbon

World War II Victory Medal

European/African Middle European Campaign Ribbon

Five Bronze Service Stars

Bill received no physical wounds in the war. He departed for ETO (European Theater Operations) on 30 January 1944, arrived in Europe on 15 February 1944. He left Europe 30 September 1945 and arrived in New York, City, USA 5 October 1945

When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, Bill was anxious to return to his little family. However, as an Evacuation Staff Officer (4010), he was responsible to make sure his men were safely on their way home before he could leave. The logistics of shipping thousands of service men back to the States was enormous and covered a timeline of several months. There was also the possibility that the service men who returned from Europe would be given a two-week leave and then redeployed to the Pacific where the fighting was still at an all-time high. Bill was content to wait out his time in Europe rather that risk the possibility of being sent into the struggles of the Pacific. It was not until the end of November in 1945 that Bill was reunited with his family in Utah.

After being gone for almost two years, Bill was home – thankfully safe and sound. Gradually, he re-established his role as father and head-of-the-household, and they began to be a family again. You can only imagine how excited Bill and "Keep your dobber up." Juana must have been to get “on” with the life of which they had dreamed. Bill threw himself into three major projects in order to securely settle his little family. They first built a new house in Midvale, Utah, and while the house was being built, Bill started his own ice cream company that he called the Blue Cottage Ice Cream -- a soda fountain store on State Street in Midvale, Utah. He also had a Blue Cottage Ice Cream store in Salt Lake that was run by his partner, Stan Lewis, a man he met while the two of them served in Europe together. However, the most important event that occurred soon after Bill returned home was the arrival of a beautiful baby boy born on September 25, 1947. And, yes, you guessed it, they named their tiny son, William Bowker Preston, V.

Every morning Bill would drive to the Blue Cottage in Salt Lake when he and Stan made the ice cream for the day. Bill would then put it in the trunk of his car and take it to the Midvale store. While the little girls were in school, Juana and Bill ran the store. Juana would wait tables, take orders, and scoop up the ice cream for cones, sundaes, and specialty ice cream treats while Bill was in the back of the store cutting potatoes for French fries, cooking burgers, battering scrimp or halibut for deep frying or cutting cabbage and onions for coleslaw. The baby, “Little Billie,” slept in a playpen in the back of the store by the office, where Bill and Juana could take care of him while running their business.

Life was good. . . until the children got sick. Diphtheria! “Little Billie” got it the worse. He should have been admitted to a hospital, but the doctor said he was fine at home and to just let him rest. Juana stayed home with the sick children while, Bill ran things at the Blue Cottage by himself. On December 15, 1949, five days after Diphtheria attacked, Bill got a phone call at the shop. It was Peggy on the other line. “Daddy!” she said hysterically. “Come home quick. Little Billie is dying.” By the time Bill drove the three minutes home, “Little Billie” had passed away despite Juana’s efforts to revive him. He was only two years old.

It was a hard time for Bill’s family. The loss of this little one was more than they could bear. After living through two years of war, worrying whether Bill would return home alive or in a box, and then to lose her baby when life was going so well, threw Juana into a state of deep depression. She sat in the living room in her robe all day long, never moving for almost an entire year. A close friend, Dr. E. G. Wright, told Bill and Juana the only way to get over “Little Billie’s” death was to get busy and have another baby. And that’s what they did. Two more baby boys blessed their home: James Booker born in 1951 and John Martin born in 1953. You may recognize the name “Booker” from the first paragraph. Naturally, Billie’s death ended the “William Bowker Preston” name, so Bill and Juana gave their next son his grandpa’s nickname of “Booker” by which he was known all his life.

For whatever reason, Bill eventually closed the Blue Cottage Ice Cream shop. He said it was because the landlord raised the rent of the building, but I believe the strain of the war compounded by “Little Billie’s” death caused Bill to give up. He just didn’t have what it took to give it his all.

Eventually, Bill found his niche as a salesman, and this was the perfect career for him. He sold insurance, beauty supplies, and cemetery plots. Bill loved his life as a supply officer in the war. He loved driving his jeep around the areas searching for housing and food for his company. As a salesman, Bill had the freedom to do what he did best during the war, and that was to take care of his “people.” You see, Bill was a "fisher of men." When anyone was in the hospital, Bill’s schedule allowed him to take time to go visit them. If he was needed to offer comfort in the face of a death, Bill could make that happen during daytime hours. When family members needed to move furniture items, or was in need of handyman skills, Bill was “Johnny on the Spot.” And in between, he sold stuff to people who became his friends. He loved being a salesman because he wasn’t tied down to a schedule. Bill also kept up his association with the service. He was active in the Army Reserves during this time and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

In 1976, Bill and Juana retired and moved back to his hometown, Logan, Utah. He built Juana her two-story dream home with four white pillars in front, blue carpeting throughout the inside, and an indoor swimming pool. The home was built on the same block where he and Juana met and fell in love. Bill loved his retirement in Logan with his apple trees, garden, and his little workshop in the garage. He had two knee replacements, but was soon stricken with Parkinson Disease.

Bill's life was filled with his love for people. He loved being with his family and friends and loved cooking for them. Melted cheese and tomato open-faced sandwiches were one of his favorite snacks. On winter evenings, he could often be found in the kitchen roasting up pine nuts that the family had gathered in the Utah mountains during the fall. Scrimp salad, Bacon wrapped filet mignon steaks, and Welch Rarebit were some of Bill's specialties. He also loved playing pool at his home with his buddy, Howard, and with his family.

Bill suffered for years with Parkinson's, but he fought his final battle against his archenemy, Pneumonia. He died on August 26, 1985. He is buried in his beloved Logan, Utah in the cemetery right next to his father, William Bowker Preston, III, and a few yards away from the resting place of his grandfather, William Bowker Preston, Jr. and his great-grandfather, the first William Bowker Preston.

Author's note: Bill's son, Booker, named his first son William Bowker Preston, VI who is known as Bill. That Bill named his first son William Bowker Preston, VII. They call him "Prince William."

Life Story Info

Author

Paulette (Polly) Preston Powell Yates

Post Date

Oct 01, 2018

Personal Info

Born

Chicogo, Illinois, United States

Died

Bennion, Utah, United States

Cause of Death

Influenza and Pneumonia

Age

72

Religion and Beliefs

Latter-day Saint

Occupation

Sales

Military Affiliation

  • Army

Veteran

  • World War II

Politics

Republican Party

Education

  • Bachelor's
    Utah State University Regional Campuses And Distance Education
  • Master's
    Washington University
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