Obituaries

Marguerite Patricia O'Donnell Eckel

Nurse

Mrs. Marguerite Patricia O'Donnell Eckel, age 80, of McDonough and formerly of Niagara Falls, N.Y. died Sunday, June 29, 2003.

Mrs. Eckel was born Dec. 12, 1922, in Lockport, N.Y. She was a LPN and most of her working career was spent at Memorial Medical Center in Niagara Falls. Her husband, Arno Robert Eckel preceded her in death in 1987.

Mrs. Eckel was cremated and a private service will be announced later.

Survivors include her children, Stanley A. and Debbie Eckel of Woodside, Calif., Patricia and Richard Zander of Oklahoma City, Mo., Jean and Kevin Plageman of McDonough, and Robert Eckel of Dawsonville, Ga.; grandchildren, Rex Plageman, Sarah Plageman, Gracie Plageman, John Plageman, and Brandi Jo Eckel; one great-grandchild.

Haisten Funeral Home, McDonough is in charge of arrangements. (770) 914-8833.

William R.

("Bill") Smith

William R. ("Bill") Smith was born, raised, lived most of his life, and died at 90 years young, all in his much-loved Henry County.

Many of his loved ones were with him when he passed away on Saturday, June 28, 2003, at Henry Medical Center. His beloved wife of 68 years, Sarah, preceded him on Sept. 29, 2001. He missed her every moment after her death.

Even to the end of his life he was dedicated to making Henry County the best possible place to live, raise children and work.

Bill was known for epitomizing many admirable characteristics – among them intelligence, integrity, industriousness, hard work, loyalty, a wonderful sense of humor, kindness and love. These qualities helped build one of Henry County's and Georgia's trademark industries: Snapper Lawnmowers (formerly McDonough Power Equipment, Inc.), where he was President and CEO through 1979. While Bill was in charge, not a single layoff occurred.

Dozens of patents and many more industrial and manufacturing technologies emanated from McDonough Power Equipment, among the innovative bug catchers, miniature Model T automobiles, and buckboards.

He led the movement to establish Henry County's first Youth Baseball League, and was known until the end of his life for contributing to the well-being of the youth of Henry County. He and Sarah established a foundation in 1995, which will continue to benefit the youth and other projects in Henry County.

Bill grew up tinkering in his father's and grandfather's machine shops. During World War II he helped design the Bell Aircraft plant (now Lockheed Martin), and ultimately the B-29 airplane. During this time he also taught engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, though he had been unable to afford a college education for himself. After the war Georgia Tech offered him a full scholarship to obtain a degree, but he had to turn it down, having "too many mouths to feed" – a wife, two children, and a mother-in-law, who was always a great "pal" to Bill.

In the early 1970s he was among the first to realize how desperately Henry County needed a hospital. He became the first chairman of the Henry Medical Center Foundation, and was responsible for locating its present site. Bill explained that the location was accessible to all of Henry County, and was land where no crops could be easily grown.

Bill and his wife Sarah purchased the Brown House on Macon Street in McDonough that was once used as the old Hotel for people traveling from Atlanta to Macon. This historic house was donated to the Henry County Genealogical Society.

In 1995 he received the Citizen of the Year Award from the Henry County Chamber of Commerce. In 200 he received the Herman Talmadge Visionary Award.

Bill was an avid fisherman and wildlife lover. He once told a dear friend, Stan Arnold, "If you ever find yourself not fishing enough, your life is out of whack and you need to rearrange your priorities."

He grew up in the First Baptist Church of McDonough and was still an active member. On Father's Day this year he receive applause for being the only great-great-grandfather (five generations) in attendance. He was also a long-time member of Christian Family Resources.

Love of family, loyalty to friends, and an appreciation for life itself were the trademarks of his life. He is quoted by Stan Arnold, "I am so glad to have lived during the time that I did, where talent and achievements were more important criteria for success than a simple educational pedigree."

Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 2 at First Baptist Church of McDonough with interment at Haisten Eastlawn Memorial Park. The Rev. Ray Collins, the Rev. Buddy Frazier, and the Rev. James Miller will officiate.

A daughter, Billie Frances Smith Belcher, preceded him and Sarah in 1979.

Survivors include his daughter, Nancy Smith of Atlanta; granddaughter, Judith Nancy Hulse; great-grandchildren, Candace Hoover, her husband, Dr. Jason Hoover, and William Christopher Hulse; great-grandson, Kellett Bryson Hoover, who was the "apple of Bill's eye." Kellett was named for Sarah's grandfather and will be two years old July 22; brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Smith; nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends who are family.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to A Friend's House, Henry Medical Center Foundation, First Baptist Church of McDonough, or the charity of your choice.

The family will receive friends from 7 to 9 p.m. today at the funeral home.

Haisten Funeral Home, McDonough is in charge of arrangements. (770) 914-8833.