William “Mailman” Fentress, 95, entered into eternal rest on August 23, 2020, surrounded by the love of his family. He was born in Slayton, Montgomery County, Tennessee, on March 30, 1925, to Talton and Roxana Allen Fentress. He was the twelfth of 13 children (12 boys and one girl) and was the last living sibling of the children. He leaves a legacy of integrity, service, and love of family.
At the age of 16, William left home and joined the United States Navy. He enlisted into the U. S. Navy in June of 1941 and was honorably discharged in May 1947. Some of his duty stations included USNTS, NOB, Norfolk, VA; Scouting Squadron Five and Six; CASU Three, Kaneohe Bay, HI; Fleet Air Base One, and USN Mobile Hospital No. 5. He was awarded the American Defense Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon, Asiatic Pacific Ribbon, Good Conduct Ribbon, and Victory Medal. On February 3, 1943, William was one of three men who served and earned the “ Presidential Unit Citation” award. The Citation was for consistently outstanding performance and distinguished achievement during repeated action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific War Area. From December 7, 1941, to November 15, 1942, for the USS Enterprise and her Air Group.
From May 1-3, 2015, he took a “Tour of Honor” to Washington, DC. The veterans had a special guided tour of the World War II Memorial. During the flight, “Mail Call” was held and surprise letters were read to the veterans from family and friends. A special letter was written by his granddaughter, Elizabeth Rogers, and read by the staff on the flight.
In June of 2015, 2017, and 2018, William was invited back to Washington, DC as a Battle of Midway veteran for the “73rd, 75th, and 76th Battle of Midway Celebrations”. Each year, a Congressional Reception was held at the Senate, a trip to the U. S. Navy Memorial was taken with a Sea of White Ceremony, and William was escorted by a Pentagon guide.
William dedicated many years of his life serving the Elkdom. In 1950, he joined Clementine McDuff Lodge #598 and has held every office in the Lodge including that of Exalted Ruler. He attended his first Grand Lodge convention in 1960, Chicago, Illinois, where Grand Exalted Ruler Hobson R. Reynolds was first elected and served under him until he retired in 1982. Brother Fentress was appointed a District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler by GER Reynolds, serving until 2018, and has also served as President of the National District Deputy’s Council. Dr. Donald P. Wilson appointed PGER William Fentress Grand Master of Social Sessions in 1995, where he served until 2018. He held the rank of Lieutenant General in the National Antlered Guard Department. Some of his accomplishments in Elkdom included organizing several Lodges in Southern California (Bostour, Long Beach, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and El Centro). He was a founding member of the M. M. Sitton Foundation along with GER Dr. Donald P. Wilson, James West (CT), and Wilton Larry Wallace (NC/NY); they each donated $500.00 to establish the foundation.
William was also a 33rd degree Mason with the United Supreme Council Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Prince Hall Affiliation Southern Jurisdiction. He helped organize and was a member of Starling Hopkins Masonic Lodge #88, and was the only living founding member, served all the stations including that of Past Worshipful Master, and was an active Shriner. Other fraternal organizations for which he belonged include the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War (where he was also the only living founding member).
William is preceded in death by his loving wife, Elizabeth Fentress.
William is survived by his children, Drs. Vonda (Timothy) Rogers, Apostle George (Anngel) Pearson, and Mary Elizabeth (Kenneth) Francis. A host of special nieces to name a few include Delores Rodgers, Jane Fentress, Dione Covin, Caroyln Adkinsson, Pam Adkinsson, Michelle Dotson Dixon, Renee Dotson, and Toni Dotson Overton.
Grandchildren include Teairra Graves, Janeeka Pearson, Stedman Graves, Zenetric Fields, Mel’quisha Pearson, Darren (Devinae) Broussard Jr. , Timothy (Qhawekazi) Rogers Jr., Elizabeth Christine Rogers, and Darrius Broussard. He is also survived by four great-grandchildren and many more special nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and community members.
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