William Bain Handwerk was born in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, on February 18, 1921. He was the son of William Alfred Handwerk and Emma Herd.1 His father was a World War I veteran who began working as a chemist for a zinc mill after the war by 1920.2 He would maintain the same career field until at least 1940, which had many important effects on the life of his son, William Bain.
At age nineteen, William Bain Handwerk lived at home in Palmerton with his parents and two younger brothers, Robert and Harry. After graduating high school, William Bain followed the footsteps of his father, and began working alongside him at the New Jersey Zinc Company of Pennsylvania. While his father worked as a supervisor for the company, William Bain Handwerk worked as a research assistant.3 In 1940, his father made $4,800 in wages from working 40 hours a week.4 This well-paying job probably influenced William Bain’s decision to follow the same career field as his father. Comparatively, this income was well above the national median of $956 for adult males.5
When the United States joined the allied cause in World War II, William Handwerk, like many other young men, registered for the draft. He signed up for the draft in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. On March 19, 1943, William Bain Handwerk was selected for military service. His term of service was for the duration of the war, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.6 By the time Handwerk entered military service, he had completed 3 years of college.7
William Handwerk entered the U.S. Army Air Corps as a Private. 8 Although unclear where he served, from October 6, 1943 to December 5, 1945 he served overseas.9 On December 6, 1945, Handwerk returned to the United States. Just ten days later, on December 16, 1945, he was separated from active military service at Fort Knox, Kentucky as a Staff Sergeant.10
Shortly after being discharged from the U.S. Army Air Corps, William Handwerk married twenty-three-year-old Jeannette Zeal Bossard on July 27, 1946, in the Washington, D.C.11 Jeanette Bossard was born on February 24, 1923 and was the daughter of Amandus and Jennie Bossard of Palmerton, Pennsylvania. It is very likely that William Handwerk knew Jeannette Bossard before his military service. In fact, Jeannette’s father, Amandus, worked as a clerk in the research division of the New Jersey Zinc Company of Pennsylvania in 1939; this was the same company and division that William Handwerk worked for prior to his military service.
William and Jeannette Handwerk had moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, by April, 1950, as seen here in the Pennsylvania World War II Veterans Compensation Application. By then, William and Jeannette Handwerk gave birth to their first daughter, Jeanette Zell Handwerk, sometime in 1949.12 The family moved to Texas sometime in the 1950s. There, William Handwerk worked as an engineer for Crutcher Resources, an oil and gas services and pipeline equipment company based in Houston, Texas. While living in Houston, William and Jeannette Handwerk gave birth to two sons, William Christopher Handwerk in 1955, and Todd Bain Handwerk in 1961.13 The family remained in the Houston area and William Handwerk worked for Crutcher Resources until his retirement. In 1989, William and Jeannette Handwerk moved to Leesburg, Florida.
On December 17, 1996, William Handwerk died at age seventy-five in Leesburg, Florida. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church before his death. His remaining family included his wife Jeanette Handwerk, who remained in Leesburg, Florida, his daughter, Jeanette Zell Handwerk, and his two sons, William Christopher and Todd Bain Handwerk, who all remained in Texas.14 William Bain Handwerk is memorialized at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida in Section MD, Site 49.
5 Weeks, Linton. "The 1940 Census: 72-Year-Old Secrets Revealed." NPR. April 02, 2012, (accessed July 1, 2017), http://www.npr.org/2012/04/02/149575704/the-1940-census-72-year-old-secrets-revealed.
8 “Obituaries,” Orlando Sentinel, December 19, 1996, (accessed July 1, 2017), http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1996-12-19/news/9612181005_1_eustis-grandchildren-central-florida
13 “Texas, Marriage Index, 1824-2014,” database, Ancestry.com, https://www.ancestry.com (accessed July 10, 2017), entry for William Christopher Handwerk; “Texas, Marriage Index, 1824-2014,” database, Ancestry.com, https://www.ancestry.com (accessed July 10, 2017), entry for Todd Bain Handwerk.
14 “Obituaries,” Orlando Sentinel, December 19, 1996, (accessed July 1, 2017), http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1996-12-19/news/9612181005_1_eustis-grandchildren-central-florida
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