Celebration of life for William "Bill" Hougland, 86, of Lawrence, will be held at 11:00 AM Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont. Private internment will be held at Memorial Park Cemetery. Bill passed away Monday, March 6, 2017 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Bill was born June 20, 1930 in Caldwell, KS to Marion and Grace (Johnson) Hougland. As a teenager, Bill worked on a farm outside of town bailing hay, harvesting crops and driving tractors. This blue collar work ethic stayed with him throughout his life, from athletics to business endeavors to stories he told his grandchildren.
At Beloit High School, Bill excelled in sports and was state champion in the high jump. He led his basketball team to the Class A championship game in 1948 and earned all-state honors.
After being recruited by several schools to play basketball, Bill chose to stay in his native Kansas to play for Coach Forrest "Phog" Allen. What impressed Bill more than Allen's coaching pedigree was the way he cared for his players and their families. After his first season when freshman were not allowed to play, Bill became the starting point guard on a team that eventually went on to win the 1952 NCAA national championship.
Bill and a handful of his teammates were selected to represent the United States in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. The team brought home a gold medal after defeating the Soviets in the championship game.
Upon returning from the Olympics, Bill served his country in the Korean War. While stationed in Japan he was also asked to compete on a basketball team at his Air Force base. He saw it as a great way to build relationships with his fellow soldiers overseas, and he took pride in his service to our country.
Bill began his professional career with Phillips Petroleum in Bartlesville, OK after returning from the Air Force. As part of his employment, he played for the National Industrial Basketball League's Phillips 66ers. He returned to the 1956 Olympic Games as team captain and won a second gold medal. Bill spent the rest of his career in Wichita. He became vice president for Koch Industries and president of Koch Oil before retiring in 1991.
Bill and Carolie retired to Lawrence where he enjoyed golfing, hunting and fly fishing trips with his children and grandchildren. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church and active in service to the University of Kansas. After a 1998 board meeting of the Kansas Hall of Fame in Abilene, Bill came home and said, "KU needs its own hall of fame." The next day he called university architect Warren Corman to discuss his idea. That set into motion a project that today allows Allen Fieldhouse visitors to experience the history of KU athletics.
Bill was a proud Jayhawk and a proud Kansan. He was especially delighted that all five of his children and several of his grandchildren graduated from KU. He was too humble to talk about his accomplishments but when pressed by his grandchildren he would delight them with stories of his work on the farm or his time in the service. He was kind to all and smiled with a twinkle in his eye.
Bill came from small town, humble, hard-working roots and carried those values throughout his life. Despite the various athletic, professional and philanthropic accolades he has received over the years, Bill's lasting legacy and what he cherished most is his family and the relationships he built along the way.
Survivors include Bill's wife of 65 years, Carolie (Miller) and their children. Nancy Simpson and husband Ward, Phoenix, AZ, Jan Hartzler and husband Jeff, Shawnee, KS, Diane Ruder and husband Greg, Lawrence, KS, Bill Hougland and wife Sue, Parker, CO, Sam Hougland and wife Stacy, Parker, CO, and Calvin and Linda Smith. Grandchildren Carrie (Josh) Fancher, Joshua (Cara) Simpson, Andrew (Brenna) Simpson, Jennifer (Zach) Allee, Julie (Alan) Heide, Arika (Chris) Sprecker, Mark (Katie) Ruder, Mikel Ruder, Matthew Ruder, Wills, Tom, Jimmy and Ryan Hougland, and Samantha Hougland and Chase Hougland. Great grandchildren Maxwell, Amelia, Stella, Avery, Kenley, Brody, Keaton, Cooper, Jaxson, Jacen, Nick, Nate, Libby, Ella, Hank and Ben.
Memorials may be made in Bill's name to First United Methodist Church (945 Vermont, Lawrence KS 66044), University of Kansas Williams Fund (1651 Naismith Dr, Lawrence KS 66045) or the Lawrence Humane Society (1805 E. 19th St. Lawrence KS 66046) or may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.
Online condolences may be posted at warrenmcelwain.com.
120 West 13th
Lawrence, KS 66044
Published in Lawrence Journal-World on Mar. 10, 2017