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Historian remembered

by | Dec 21, 2022 | Latest

Wylie lost one of its beloved citizens and historians last week.

Billy “Bill” Lewis died Sunday, Dec. 11, at the age of 87 following a brief battle with cancer.

Perhaps most known for his role as the Executive Director of the F.O. Birmingham Memorial Land Trust, Lewis was much more to those who loved and knew him.

He was a former all district high school football player, lifeguard and swim instructor, Army veteran, and high school football coach before venturing into the financial industry.

Born in Fort Worth and raised in Dallas, Bill’s introduction to Wylie came after meeting Donna Click, the woman who later became his wife. She was also the daughter of Wylie landowner and businessman D.W. Click.

After a brief stint in West Texas, the couple raised their two children in Garland and Bill worked in downtown Dallas for two decades. The Lewis’ later moved to Bennett Road in Wylie where they built an 1880s style home and have lived for the past 30 years on their farm.

His passion, other than his wife of 63 years, children and grandchildren, was his love of history.

In his spare time, Bill spent an infinite amount of time collecting and researching the history of Wylie.

“I love the town,” Bill said. “My biggest claim is I married a Wylie girl.”

Through conversations with his father-in-law and his wife, Bill learned of the close association between the Click and Birmingham families.

In 2017, Bill was interviewed by former Library Director Rachel Orozco for an oral history project. In the interview Bill spoke about how he learned, and later became involved with, the Birmingham Trust.

The trust, which provides funds to Wylie Independent School District for mechanical trades (CTE programs), history and various enrichment programs, was created in 1940 as a memorial to Franklin Ovid Birmingham, the son of T.F. and Hattie Birmingham.

“I was in the security business and then I read in the Wylie newspaper that they were selling the Birmingham Trust land,” Bill said. “I found out that they sold it and had some money, so I came out and called on two or three people that were trustees to see if I could help them invest their money.”

For the full story, see the Dec. 21 issue of The Wylie News.

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