We pause to reflect and celebrate the life of William Hunrichs as one more from the greatest generation has passed [September 26, 2015]. Known as Bill or Beebe, he was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, son, brother in law, uncle, colleague and friend.
William was born on April 19, 1924 in Seesen, Germany and immigrated to America in 1925 with his parents, Oskar and Emma Hunrichs and his older brother; Gunther. They arrived at Ellis Island in New York City and with a family sponsor, settled in Eagle Rock, California, near Los Angeles. Over time their family settled into their new home but were challenged by the difficulties of a new country, language and culture on top of the grim realities of the great depression. The newly arrived Californians were determined to succeed and over time adjusted to their new home and the Hunrichs family became Americans by choice and loved the opportunities their new country offered. Growing up as a typical kid from Southern California, Bill was involved in sports, cars, friends and the beach as the high school years came and went.
Pearl Harbor Day changed Bill’s life forever. His older brother, Gunther, answered the call to defend his adopted country by enlisting in the Marine Corps while Bill finished high school. Upon completion of high school, Bill also joined the Marines with so many of his buddies from school. Rigorous training enabled him to become a Marine Raider. Before long, Bill was deployed to the South Pacific where he was involved in several battles to push back the Japanese occupation of dozens of strategic islands in the Pacific. The end of the war for Bill came on June 4, 1945 when a severe shrapnel wound to his leg during a battle on Okinawa, brought his fighting days to an end. A yearlong hospitalization allowed him to recover but with a permanently damaged leg. World War II ended during his hospitalization but also with the memory of the death of his beloved brother, Gunther, who died in a plane crash while training to return to battle as an aviation gunner with the Marines.
In 1947, while vacationing at Avalon Beach on Catalina Island with friends, Bill met the love of his life, Jacqueline Lou Hawley. Jackie entered Bill’s life and they were soon married. With his war injury limiting his career choices, Bill used the GI Bill to continue his education and prepare for his future and the future of his soon to grow family.
Bill continued his education while working at the Veterans Hospital and became interested in counseling and the field of psychology. He attended local colleges before attending Stanford University, earning his Doctorate Degree in Psychology in 1955. Along the way, the Hunrichs family grew with the birth of three sons, Paul, Richard and Kenneth. Bill and Jackie lived in student housing at Stanford and then in their first real family home in Sunnyvale, California.
Opportunity knocked when teaching job offers came to Dr. Hunrichs from a college in Florida and from San Diego State College. A new chapter in Bill’s life started with the decision to take a position at San Diego State College. With three kids in tow, Bill and Jackie left their home in Sunnyvale for their home for the past 58 years in the community of Allied Gardens near San Diego State.
Campus life suited Bill as he became involved in his new College with all the activities it offered. Years of Aztec football games attended with family and friends were the highlight of Saturday nights during the season. Jackie also was involved in campus life at San Diego State, working part time at the campus bookstore and becoming active with the faculty wives. Two sons, Paul and Ken graduated from San Diego State and the family became Aztecs for Life. Son Rick, chose the University route and ended up graduating from Humboldt State University; an honorary Aztec in the family.
While beginning his new career as a college professor, Bill developed a passion for sailing which led to joining Mission Bay Yacht Club and involvement in sailing activities for the entire family. Jackie and sons were willing crew members and developed as accomplished sailors of their own. The Bahia Hotel’s, steel hull rental sail boats, led to Sabots to Lidos, Finns and Lasers. A Coronado 25 was soon upgraded to an Ericson 29 and many summer trips to Catalina with friends and the Racing/Cruising Fleet from Mission Bay Yacht Club.
Family camping trips were interspersed with the summer sailing and a memorable cross country camping trip in 1968 sparked an interest in the comforts of a motorhome. Tent camping led to a truck camper to a Lazy Daze motorhome. Bill and Jackie were joined on camping trips by family and friends but often times set off together to explore the sights of the United States, Mexico and Canada.
As the years passed, Bill taught and advised thousands of students in the Psychology Department at San Diego State until his retirement in 1985. With a few extra years of part time teaching for good measure, Professor Hunrichs finally called it quits for good in 1990.
Free to travel from their home base in Allied Gardens after retirement, Bill and Jackie toured the West in their rolling home while still remaining active in the social life of Mission Bay Yacht Club. They traveled to visit with their son Rick and his wife Lillian with their own growing family and a career that required several inter-state moves. They loved visiting their grandkids Benjamin and Abraham in Arkansas, New Mexico and Sacramento, California.
Sons Paul and Ken were fortunate to be able to settle in the San Diego area after getting married. Ken to Marie in 1982 and Paul to Sandy in 1991. Holidays, birthday and family outings were the perfect reasons to remain close as a family. Bill and Jackie’s two grandsons Ben and Abe were growing up fast in Sacramento with their parents Rick and Lillian. Both grandkids attended college and have settled on the east coast in Massachusetts. Great-granddaughter Lupin was born to Ben and Sarah and are fortunate to be living near Abe and his partner Maddie, who are growing their own specialty food business.
The last many years of Bill’s life were spent with Jackie timeshare touring the country. These trips often turned into treasured family reunions, particularly in the beautiful landscape of Sedona, Arizona. The yacht club also served as a gathering place for the family to enjoy watching the latest generation of sailors hone their sailing skills.
Frequent breakfast or lunch gatherings were a fine way to keep in touch with friends and colleagues from San Diego State. Bill and Jackie remained active with the faculty retirement group to swap stories from the early days on campus and keep up with the latest news.
The gentle nature that we remember most about Bill was in stark contrast to his military service as a warrior for his country in one of the most honored battalions with the Marine Raiders. Like so many from his generation, Bill answered a call to duty to defend his country when his country needed him most. Like many who served, the sacrifices of so many like Bill’s are an obscure part of our history that will never be forgotten.
Bill’s military service changed the course of his life but it will be Bill’s loving and gentle side we will remember most as we say farewell to a beloved husband and father and friend.