William Frank (Bill) O'Doniel was born on January 6, 1924, in Lakeland, Florida. He was the fifth of seven children born to John Arthur and Carrie O'Doniel. He attended Lakeland High School, where he met the love of his life and future wife, Helen Claire Buran, and they were married 66 years. They both attended First Baptist Church from early childhood and returned to active membership after Bill retired from the military. Bill was an ordained deacon and became deacon emeritus.
Bill left high school to join the Army National Guard, with his older brother, and was stationed at Camp Blanding until the fall of 1941 when the Army sent all underage soldiers back home. Six weeks later, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and all age restrictions were lifted so Bill and his three best high school friends signed up for the Navy where he became a flight engineer and served from 1941-1957. From 1957-1962 he served in the Air Force in Charleston, SC. He retired from the military in 1962 after years of flying the DEW line, the US air defense detection system before satellites, and military transport where he flew throughout Europe and South America. He was due to retire in 1961 but was delayed by the invasion of the Bay of Pigs. He was then asked to fly on Air Force One, but he declined so he could retire and come home with his family to Lakeland.
After returning to Lakeland, he worked for a few years with his younger brother, then started a new career in the engineering department at Lakeland Regional Hospital. Because of his security clearance, he was able to become a locksmith and added that to his services at the hospital. He finally retired in 1989 and began traveling with Helen throughout the US, visiting family and old friends that they had not seen for years.
Bill was not only a flight engineer and locksmith, but was a master cabinet maker (aka, an excellent designer and carpenter). He built the family's first home in Lexington Park, Maryland, brick by brick. He built furniture for his family and their families, grandfather clocks for each of his daughters, and a fully furnished elaborate colonial doll house for his granddaughters, in addition to installing innumerable enhancements and additions to his home and those of his children. He worked on various projects at the First Baptist Church on North Florida Avenue and The Church at the Mall, including the design and building of the original church library. He built wheelchair ramps for several disabled Lakeland residents. And in 2000 he went on the church mission trip to renovate and build a facility at Hungry Horse, Montana.
In addition to the talents God gave him for all types of construction and service, he was filled with God's love. Love for his Savior, for his family, for his country, and for all people. Bill knew of the blessings he was given and never failed to give back. He gave of his time, his talents, his love, and his compassion. He was accepting of everyone, didn't know a stranger, made everyone he met feel instantly welcomed, and loved to make people laugh and smile. He lived life to the fullest and was truly admired and loved by all who knew him.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, all of his siblings, his wife Helen, and his daughter Robin Lynn. He is survived by his daughters, Sharlene Wall of Tampa, FL, Yvonne O'Doniel-Davis (Martin) of Winter Garden, FL, and Marla Quattrochi (Ben) of San Antonio, TX, four grandchildren, five great grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews, and their families.