William (Bill) L. Combs

October 6, 1937 ~ June 1, 2021 (age 83)


Dr. William L. (Bill) Combs died in his Worth County, MO. home on June 1, 2021. He was 83. He is survived by his wife Colleen, sons  Eric and Bryan, daughters-in-law Barbara and Julie, grandchildren Tamara, Nicole, Ross and Audrey, brothers Charley, Dick and Steve, sisters-in-law Rosie (West), Sandy (Hayden), and Vickey Dickerson, and numerous nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents Ross and Bonnie Combs and brothers Ross Allen and Marvin.

Bill was born on October 6, 1937, the third of the six sons of Ross and Bonnie Combs. He graduated from Grant City High School in 1955, then Northwest Missouri State University in 1959. He went on to earn a Master’s degree at the University of Missouri and a Ph.D from Purdue University. He taught history at Western Illinois University for 42 years, retiring as full professor in 2008. His specialty area was German History, particularly the WWII period, and his 1986 book, Das Schwarze Korps; the Voice of the SS, remains a highly respected reference. It is held in hundreds of libraries around the world, including the universities of California, Missouri, Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge and Cairo.

Bill married Raedene Eberle of Lenox, IA on January 30, 1960. To this union his sons Eric William and Bryan Andrew were born. He later married Colleen Cattrell of Moline, IL on May 27, 1977. She survives.

His hobbies included collecting antique tractors, Farmalls and Olivers in particular; riding motorcycles, often on long tours through the mountains of Colorado and Montana; and playing guitar and banjo. He and his brothers often sang together. For many years Bill was the faculty sponsor for the Western Illinois University Judo Club, where many life-long friendships were formed. He was also a formidable table tennis player.

He will be sorely missed.

There will be a Celebration of Life for family and friends from 1:00-4:00 P.M. Saturday, June 12, 2021 at the Worth Community Center in Worth, Missouri. Contributions to the Marvin D. Combs Memorial Scholarship fund that Bill established at Northwest Missouri State University would be welcomed.

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