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William A. "Bill" Behler, 88, passed away at 9:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, 2013 at Four Seasons Health Care Center in Columbus, Indiana after a lengthy illness.
Bill was born October 23, 1925, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Anthony and Adele Entner-Behler. He married Mary Schleibaum Sept. 10, 1949, in Cincinnati.
Bill graduated from Roger Bacon High School (Cincinnati) in 1942. Extremely bright and eager, he earned his diploma early at age 16 through a condensed studies program.
Six weeks after his 18th birthday and a year into his college studies, Bill was drafted into the United States Army. He served in the 398th Infantry during WWII (1943-46) in France and Germany, seeing a great deal of front-line combat. He eventually attained the rank of Corporal and was awarded the Silver Star for heroism for his bravery during action near Neckargartach, Germany. He also received the Purple Heart, two bronze stars, the Good Conduct medal, and the Distinguished Unit Badge. His experiences inside the horrors of war never deterred his faith nor his determination. His war letters, written home to his family from foxholes or barn lofts, always displayed an unwavering faith in God despite circumstances. Bill was a faithful Catholic, a dedicated soldier, an exceptional father, and a true family man and gentleman.
Bill resumed college upon his return from the war, graduating from Xavier University (Cincinnati) in 1948.
He went to work in the family automobile business, where he had spent his teen years running errands and auto parts around town on a three-wheeled motorcycle. Started by his uncle in the 1920's, Bill co-owned and operated Behler Oldsmobile ("The Oldsmo-Behlers") in Cincinnati with his brother Bob until 1974. At that time, he purchased a car dealership in Columbus, Indiana, owning and operating Behler Pontiac–Toyota-Buick-GMC Truck there until his retirement in 1990.
Over 60 years in the automobile business, Bill was known for his fairness, integrity, business acumen, and for his friendly, helpful and giving spirit.
Bill served as past President of these organizations: Meridian Kiwanis Club, the Columbus Auto Dealer’s Association, and St. Columba (now St. Bartholomew) parish council. He also served as lector and greeter at St. Bartholomew for many years. He was part of the “Wednesday Crew” with Housing Partnerships for 10 years and their 2001 "Volunteer of the Year."
Bill was a charter member of the The Poker Club, a group of six life-long high school friends who played penny-ante poker once a month for over 60 years. They never missed a game (minus the war years) until age and illness eventually disbanded the group.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary, on Aug. 14, 2005; and a grandson, Joseph R. Hudgens on Dec. 27, 2004.
He is survived by his five children, Paul (Marie-Claude) Behler of Bethesda, Md., Diane (Robert) Hudgens of Roswell, N.M., Donna (Michael) Keogh of Columbus, Jim (Pam) Behler of Erie, Colo., and Barbara (Scott) Shofner of Columbus. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, Jeremy Behler, Brigette Sobrino-Behler, Tim Keogh, Christine Ascencio, Betzi Burgos, Andy Hudgens, Brad Behler and Steve Keogh; and 10 great-grandchildren.
A funeral mass will be conducted at 10 a.m. Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church with Father Clem Davis officiating.
Calling hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at Jewell-Rittman Family Funeral Home with a Rosary service at 7 p.m. at the funeral home. There will also be calling one hour prior to the service on Wednesday at the church.
Burial will be held at Garland Brook Cemetery with military honors provided by the Bartholomew County Veterans Color Guard.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Our Hospice of South Central Indiana or Housing Partnerships, Inc.
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