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Billy "Bill" Garner '60 April 2, 2024 10:03 AM updated: April 2, 2024 10:15 AM

Billy Jack "Bill" Garner 

September 21, 1938 - March 30, 2024 

Billy Jack Garner, 85, of Charleston, WV passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, March 30. His steadfast wife of 59 years, Patricia “Pat” Garner, and daughters were by his side.

Bill was born on September 21, 1938, in Richards, Texas and spent his early years living in company towns along the Magnolia pipeline. In 1949, the family relocated to Baytown, Texas after his father passed away. It was easy to like the bright-eyed boy, and he found ready mentors among the Methodist Men and his Scoutmasters. His many jobs included a paper route and setting up pins in a bowling alley. To keep the family Studebaker running, he hoisted the engine out and rebuilt it. An Eagle Scout, he often talked of traveling by train to the 1953 Boy Scout Jamboree in Irvine, California.

Bill showed an early aptitude for physics and math and, in 1956, won the Bausch & Lomb Science Award at Robert E. Lee High School. With summer earnings, he proudly attended Texas A&M University and became the first in his family to graduate from college. An Aggie to the core, he majored in Chemical Engineering and was in the Corps of Cadets and Ross Volunteers. His daughters and grandchildren loved his spirited stories about setting off Bab-O bombs and flooding a rival dorm. They also marveled at his total recall of college-level material.

After graduation, he served in the US Air Force from 1961-1964. After a year at Glasgow AFB in Montana, he told his commanding officer, “Send me anywhere, as long as it’s warm!” His next post was in Tucson, where he met Patricia Ann English, an Oklahoma farm girl turned English teacher, who shared his values and was ready for adventure. They married on New Year’s Eve in 1964 and moved to Pittsburgh, where Bill got a master’s in Industrial Hygiene, and then to Texas, where he joined Union Carbide and earned a master’s in Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M.

During his 35-year career, Bill played a significant role in scaling plastics manufacturing. An early project, undertaken as he and Pat were having their third daughter, was designing an improbably large polyethylene reactor. The thrill of bringing this reactor online, which was six times larger than anything in-market, was like an Apollo rocket launch. After the family relocated to Charleston, West Virginia, Bill wrote the process design manual and traveled the world licensing the technology to international customers. During those years, his daughters would ask, “Where’s Dad?” and Pat would answer, “He’s been in Australia all week.” He led the Tech Center’s R&D Division and pilot plant with a steady hand for many years and finished his career as Project Manager for the era’s largest ethylene glycol plant in Red Deer, Alberta. He holds five patents for process innovations.

In midlife, when some people might buy a sports car, Bill bought a share in a 23-foot Westerly sailboat. He beamed when his hand was on the tiller, and Pat and the girls were along for the ride. Many a family vacation was spent plying the waters of the Chesapeake Bay aboard the Laughing Gull. Looking back, Pat reflects: “Everyone needs a little hardship in their lives, and you girls would not know hardship if not for that boat!” Later, he and Pat upgraded to a Sabre yacht, talked friends into overnight crossings to Mexico and the Bahamas, and hosted many guests during winters in Florida. After they converted to a Monk trawler, Captain Bill and First Mate Pat lived aboard for nine months while they completed the Great Loop.

A lifelong Methodist, Bill attended Christ Church United Methodist for more than 50 years. He was a Trustee for many of them and left two legacies: the stained-glass windows in the sanctuary and Pat’s Playground, a 20-year labor of love that reinforced that no one could work a problem like Bill Garner.

A proud father, Bill loved his three daughters and attended more dance and piano recitals than one could count. He believed deeply in education and funded grandchildren’s 529 plans and scholarships at Texas A&M; his chest puffed out for every person he counseled to become an engineer. He cherished his Lone Star roots and was delighted to discover that he was a fifth generation Texan. A master connector, he modeled how to make and maintain friendships over a lifetime. He gave his seven grandchildren sweet memories of tractor rides, trips to College Station, Granddad hugs, and his “sneaky smile.” A devoted husband, he and Pat were true partners on life’s journey.

Special thanks to the many people who cared for Bill over the past three years, including Drs. Jay Lohan and Ahmed Khalid at CAMC, Drs. Mustafa Raoof and Ali Zhumkhawala at City of Hope, the staff on Five South at CAMC Memorial, the staff at HospiceCare, and Visiting Angel Tiffany Moon. Ever curious and kind, he connected with caregivers through his final days.

Bill is survived by his wife, Pat Garner; daughters, Melissa Wylie (Jay), Jennifer Garner, and Susannah Carpenter (Jonathan); brother, Jerry Garner of Baytown, Texas; grandchildren, Jack, Emma, Griffin, Violet, Alex, Seraphina, and Sam; and many loving cousins, nephews, and nieces.

A memorial service with live streaming will be held at 1pm, Saturday, April 6, 2024, in the sanctuary of Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston, West Virginia, with a reception following from 2-4pm. Dr. Jay Parkins will officiate.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Building Fund at Christ Church United Methodist, 1221 Quarrier Street, Charleston, WV 25301 or online at

Condolences may be sent to the family at

Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston, WV is in charge of arrangements. 


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