William Francis Lalor, Sr. of Ridgeland, Mississippi, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 87 on April 26th, 2023 with his wife Linda by his side.
Known as Willie to his siblings and Bill, Dad, and Grandpa to his family and friends in America, he was born in Dublin and grew up on the family farm known as Ballard in County Westmeath. He was the eldest child of seven, born on Sep 30th, 1935 to Thomas and Teresa (nee Kinsella) Lalor. Along with his brothers, Bill grew up working on the family farm and would tell stories about life there during World War Two. He spent much of his teenage years attending boarding school in Roscrea, County Tipperary, where he excelled at rugby on the school team – and like many rugby players had the knees to show for it in his later years. An extremely bright and hard-working student, Bill placed 1st nationwide in the Irish secondary school final exam, and again 1st in all of Ireland on his Pre Med exam at University College Dublin.
Bill’s adventure in America began with the award of a scholarship to Michigan State from the Kellogg Company. It was there that he met and in 1961 married Elizabeth Broucek of Lansing, Michigan, who pre-deceased him in 1991. Upon graduation from Michigan State, they moved back to Dublin where he began his post-graduate studies. While there Bill and Liz’s first two children, Tom and Karen were born. Following his acceptance into the doctorate program at Iowa State, he moved his family to Ames, Iowa. Along the way, their third child, Terri, was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan with the support of Liz’s family there. With his PhD in Agricultural Engineering in hand, Bill was offered a position on the faculty of Auburn University, in Auburn, Alabama. It was there that their youngest child, Billy was born.
In 1971 Bill joined the newly established International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan Nigeria, a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance crop quality and productivity, with the ultimate goals of reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. Life was very different there, and the challenges were many, but the experience opened the aperture of his entire family and filled everyone with an appreciation of how difficult life can be for so many people around the world.
In 1974 Bill moved his family to Raleigh, North Carolina where he worked at Cotton Incorporated on the cutting edge of cotton ginning technology. His travels took him all over the US, particularly to California and Texas, an included very much collaborative work with the agricultural departments at Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Throughout his career with Cotton, Bill received numerous accolades from his work. On weekends in the late 70’s to early 80’s Bill could be frequently found cheering on his son Billy who played for a select soccer club in Raleigh. He and Liz made many close lifelong friends with other parents of the club players as they followed their kids around the east coast from tournament to tournament.
In 1990 Liz developed lung cancer which she fought for 18 months before finally losing her battle in March of 1991. Throughout the ordeal Bill patiently and tenderly cared for Liz’s every need, spending countless hours by her side throughout her long struggle. He lived his promise of marriage “in sickness and in health” and loved Liz with every fiber of his heart right up to the end of her life.
After Liz passed, Bill was introduced by his brother Reverend Tom Lalor to Linda Hamilton, who herself was recently widowed. They quickly developed a bond and were married in Sep 1992. Soon after that, grandchildren started arriving on the scene, and Bill and Linda (known now as “Grandpa and Mere”) found a whole new role as grandparents to Benjamin, Caitlin, Erin, Megan, Julie, Nicola, Rachel, Elizabeth, Anna Joy, and Peter. They delighted every year in organizing week-long field trips dubbed “Camp Fun,” each with a novel theme aimed at introducing their grandkids to new places and activities around the country.
In 2001 Bill and Linda made their final move down to Jackson, Mississippi, to be near Linda’s children and grandchildren. A whole new generation of grandchildren from Linda’s kids arrived over the following years, a continuing role which delighted Bill to no end. Now empty-nesters, Bill combined his love for bicycling with his penchant for travel on organized cycling trips that he and Linda took throughout Europe most every summer.
Bill left a group of friends that treasured and respected his friendship and a wonderful loving family. He is survived by his wife Linda; his siblings Sister Mary Lalor, Margaret Murphy, Rev Tom Lalor, Pat Lalor and Gerard Lalor. He was predeceased by his brother, Rev John Lalor. He also leaves behind his four children, Thomas Lalor and his wife Kathleen, Karen Hathaway, Therese McIrvine and her husband Stuart, and William Lalor Jr and his wife Robin, along with ten grandchildren; and his three stepsons Randy Hamilton, Kevin Hamilton and his wife Joanne, and Jerry Hamilton and his wife Rhonda, and all of their children.
Bill was an extremely devoted and loving father who went to great lengths to instill his children with a sense of curiosity and love of adventure for the world around them. He loved classical music, photography, bicycling, and exploring new places around the corner and around the globe. He was remarkably mechanically inclined, and could take most anything apart and put it back together again. It was very rare to ask a question to which he did not have an answer. Those who know Bill remember him as a great friend, and someone of great integrity who would always give you the unvarnished truth as he thought it to be. He was the kind of person you could see once a week or once a year and his unwavering friendship was always the same. Bill loved his family dearly and was so proud of the adults his children had become. He adored his grandchildren and reveled in what fine adults they had all become and what those still young would one day grow to be. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
The family is grateful to Retarsiha Magee, Lakasha Young, and Leshia Moore for their compassionate care and unwavering support during Bill’s last years.
A funeral Mass in celebration of Bill’s life will be held at St Richard Catholic Church at 1242 Lynwood Dr, Jackson, Mississippi at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 3rd, Dan (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Sebrell Funeral Home in Ridgeland is the point of contact for inquiries. A Mass will also be celebrated at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church, 12333 Bayleaf Church Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina On Friday May 5th at 11:00 a.m. preceded by a visitation at 10:00 a.m., and immediately followed by an interment ceremony next to his first wife Liz at Pine Forest Memorial Gardens in Wake Forest. Heather at Renaissance Funeral Home (email@example.com) is the point of contact in Raleigh.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Bill’s name may be made to the St. Vincent DePaul Society, c/o St. Richard Church , PO Box 16547, Jackson, MS. 39236.