William Allen Townsend was born in Jackson, MI on February 3, 1936, and passed away June 23, 2020. Bill and his wife Sue were married for 60 years. They had 3 children: Michael (Joanne) of Holland, MI., Kittie (Jim) Lynch of Lansing, MI., Scott (Cindy) of Wake Forest, NC. Brothers Clayton (Beverly) of St Johns, MI., Edward of Bath, MI., David (Jennell) of Lansing, and sister Mary Ann (George) Price of Battle Creek, MI. 10 grandchildren: Ross, Jennifer, Jason, Thomas, Jarrod, Eric, Kristyn, Collin, Caroline and Carson, and 9 great grandchildren: Isla, Anders, Flint, Luken, Axel, Henry, Caleb, Judah, Elizabeth, many nieces and nephews; sister-in-law and brother-in-law Mary Lou (B.Thomas) Smith of Sarasota, FL. Bill was pre-deceased by his parents Virgil E. and Lowine G. Townsend, sister-in-law Roberta Bobbi Townsend, nephew David Townsend, and great-granddaughter Gwendolyn “Winnie” Grace Galasso.
Bill graduated from Lansing Eastern High School in 1955 and was inducted into the Lansing Eastern High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the 1954 State Championship Wrestling Team. After high school, he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps (1956-1962), and was stationed in San Diego, CA and Iwakuni and Okinawa Japan and the Philippine Islands. After returning home, his brother Ed, who was teaching at Haslett High School, arranged for a blind date for Bill with Haslett’s librarian/ English teacher.
Bill and Sue’s first date was an indoor track meet at Jenison Field House at MSU. They were married the next year. In the early years, Bill worked at several jobs: Lansing’s Vector Control, night custodian at Horsebrook Elementary School, even cut tree limbs, but…after falling about 15 feet inside a tree…he realized he wasn’t adept at that line of work! With his growing family, he started taking classes at LCC while working at Diamond Reo and for the next 10 years, he balanced work and college studies.
After proudly graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in Secondary Education, Bill hired into the Lansing School District and taught Physical Education, Government and History and coached several seasons of Varsity Swimming and Track over the course of 25 years. Bill taught at Harry Hill High School, Gardner Junior High School and Otto Junior High School, where he eventually retired in 1998.
Throughout his 60 year marriage with Sue, running became a big part of their active life. Bill was involved in the formation of the Mid-Michigan Track Club, and ran with them for many years. Over the years, Bill, Sue and the family ran in road races all around the Greater Lansing Area, including Lake Lansing, Capital City River Run, Volkslauf, Hubbardston 10K, Carson City, Race for the Place, Walk-Wheel-Run, Lions Club, Bobby Crim 10 Mile and an all-time favorite, Mackinac Island 8 Mile Road Run.
The last 19 years you could find Bill at the Indian River Campground where he and Sue parked a camper and enjoyed day trips to Mackinaw, Petoskey or wherever they decided to wander. Their biggest joy was being with family: Bill was fortunate to have close ties to his brothers, Clayt, Ed, Dave and sister MaryAnn as well as with their extended families, breakfasts on Mondays, and Taco Tuesdays that sometimes included a grandchild or two, or a nephew or two. Pride grew in seeing grandchildren and great-grandchildren enlarge the circle of love.
Bill’s love of family was what framed his character. The hugs and smiles and “get a move on!” (yelled at any given cross country meet) were what filled him up and were returned to him ten-fold by his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, including baby Elizabeth who was born five days before he passed away.
He was a friend to all, easy-going, approachable, always a kind word to offer whoever stopped to talk. He will be missed by not only family, but to those whose lives he touched along the way through coaching, teaching or in the neighborhood.
We will miss him forever.