William Wade Shipley was born in Boonville, Missouri on July 12, 1925, to William Wade and Grace Odneal Shipley. Both were teachers. He died at Eagle Estates, Independence, KS on November 2, 2021 at age 96.
Wade’s father died at age 35 of typhoid fever on August 4, 1926 while attending Columbia University in NYC where he had been pursuing a doctoral degree. His mother remarried on June 7,1930 to William Ray Ferguson who became Wade’s Dad. Grace and Ray eked out a living in Missouri until they decided to follow the pipeline to New Mexico where Ray was a welder. Wade spent his elementary school years with his grandmother back in Missouri.
He spent his college years at the University of Oklahoma through the V-12 Navy College Training Program. While there, he played the cornet in the Navy band and did “gigs” with a group for extra spending money. He earned his degree in Electrical Engineering then served as an Ensign on the Pascagoula in the South Pacific. He was honorably discharged from active duty in the U.S. Navy on August 30 1946.
He married Ruth Nadine Ross April 7, 1947 in Artesia, New Mexico. To this union, two children were born, Sharon Olivia (Sherry) Blackard of Independence, KS and William Wade (Bill) Shipley V (Julie) of Dallas, TX. They later divorced.
Wade and his dad, Ray, started a pipeline construction business in Eunice, New Mexico in 1948. Grace had wanted Wade to be a doctor, but he told his mother he would be happier working alongside “Daddy”, so she relented. Ferguson Construction Company grew to be one of the biggest employers in Lea County, New Mexico.
Wade married Betty Wieser in 1972. They traveled the world together touching every continent on the globe. They rode an icebreaker to the Arctic and traveled the wild seas through Drake’s Passage to Antarctica. They safaried through Africa, fished in the Amazon, danced in Bali, snorkeled in the Truk Lagoon, walked the Great Barrier Reef and dined in China. One country they didn’t see was Nepal. Wade always regretted he didn’t get to go there. Their marriage ended in the waning years of their lives, but oh what adventures they had!
Besides traveling, Wade loved playing golf, hunting, fishing, arrowhead hunting and collecting pre-statehood New Mexico postmarks. Wade was always outspoken. Nobody ever had to wonder what he was thinking.
Wade was preceded in death by his mother Grace, his father Wade and his stepfather Ray. He leaves behind to cherish his memory his two children Bill & Sherry, 5 grandchildren, Sam Blackard (Mindy) of Independence, Ks., Roxanne Hoad (Russ ) of Phillip Bay, NSW, Australia, Corinne Shipley of Revelstoke, B. C. Canada, Victoria Byrd (Andrew) of Springfield, Virginia, Blair Hart (Meredith) of Austin, Texas and 11 great grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by all of them
Wade’s ashes will be buried in Lovington, New Mexico.
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