PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
Bill was born November 16, 1921 in Stuart, Oklahoma to Jessie and
Donnie Biggers. The second of seven siblings, Bill
was the only boy among six sisters; Leone, June, Elnora, Pauline, Rose Marie
and Nancy. The family moved from Stuart to Southern California in 1923. His
father was hired by the C.J. Appling and Doctor Hollensworth
Ranches a year later, and the family moved to Biola,
California. Bill enrolled as a 1st grader in Barstow Colony School in
September, 1927, but one month later his father accepted a position as
foreman on the large J.E. Simon Ranch located in Orange Cove, California.
Bill transferred to Orange Cove Elementary, graduating in 1935. He completed
his education at Orosi High School where he
received his diploma in the spring of 1939.
After graduation Bill went to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad
located in Alhambra, California, hoping to become a machinist. Southern
Pacific had a training program where Bill could go to school in the evening
for free after working his day shifts. Upon completion, he was classified as
a machinist’s helper.
Bill married Maureen McDaniel in Reno, Nevada on November 17, 1940, the
day before her birthday. The couple soon tired of living in Los Angeles and
returned to the Simon Ranch where Bill had grown up. He took a position as a
mechanic, truck driver, tractor driver and various other positions. They were
furnished a nice home on the ranch where their son Ronald was born on March
15, 1943. Soon after they bought a home and moved to Dinuba, California.
On January 1, 1945 Bill entered the United States Army and went through
basic training at Camp Roberts before being shipped to Manila, Luzon in the
Philippine Islands. On his first combat mission, Bill was sent to locate a
break away Japanese Unit that (unlike their main unit) had escaped capture.
The mission consisted of Bill and 14 other men, along with the 1st
Sergeant and a truck driver. When they were
about 80 kilometers into the hills from Manila, they came under enemy fire
lasting about 20 hours with no American casualties and no prisoners taken.
When they returned to base, they found they had been listed as AWOL. The
first sergeant had listed the mission but failed to list the names of those
assigned. It was eventually cleared up but they were not issued combat duty
as the first sergeant was a basket case and was sent home. During his time on
Luzon Bill thought he was possibly assigned to the 1st
Calvary Unit, but later found his assigned
unit; Company “D” 21st
Unit on the island of Mindanao.
After the war ended, Bill was transferred to a Headquarters Unit and
promoted to T5. His Regimental Combat Team was sent to Japan, following the
Infantry Unit. They were stationed at
Okayama, Japan, and in March of 1946, were transferred about 20 miles south
of Nagasaki where the second atomic bomb had been dropped. Bill received
orders to be transferred stateside in August 1946, and was mustered out of
the military in December, 1946.
Maureen had sold their Dinuba home while Bill was in the service, and
purchased a home in Los Angles to be near Bill’s mother and sisters. Bill was
offered a position with the United States Navy in Long Beach, but refused as
his father had retired from the ranch, and Bill was offered a job as foreman.
It included a good salary, a brand new home on the ranch and a new Ford
pickup. Bill stayed from November 1946 until December 1952. Competent ranch
help was impossible to find, and the ranch owner’s son, Ralph Simon and Bill
were doing all the heavy work. Tractor drivers would not show up for work and
during the spring the tractors had to run 24-7. That left Ralph or Bill to
work 6:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. driving tractor, plus their other duties.
At this point Bill took the Fresno Police Examination and was hired on
February 1, 1953. The family relocated to Fresno, and Bill began his career
as the Major Accident Investigator, then walked the beat and drove a patrol
car. He then went to Police Headquarters to learn the inner workings of the
dispatcher, switch board operator and the records division. He was assigned
as Patrol Training Officer (crime prevention) and finally as a motorcycle
officer where he remained for 8 years. Bill then became a detective; working
all major crimes (burglary, robbery and homicide etc.) on the midnight to
eight shift. For 3 years Bill worked the forgery and worthless documents,
ending his career as a Homicide Investigator.
Beginning in November 1974 until February
1983 Bill worked for the Alpha Beta Markets as an investigator for 24 of
their stores located from Sacramento to Porterville. After 8 years, 4 new
cars and thousands of miles of travel Bill decided it was time to retire. As
it turned out it was a foolish thought Bill says. Just 2 weeks later
Sacramento called, and he was hired to work
part-time for the California Horse Racing Board, where he worked 5 more years.
Soon after leaving the CHRB the Fresno Police Department called asking him to
be a background investigator for new police hires. He finally decided it was
time to retire after 13 more years as an investigator.
Bill is still on the Fresno Police Officers
Association Board of Directors after 17 years and has continued to attend all
meetings, and is still on their Budget and Finance Committee as well as the
Bill states he enjoyed his military
service but says his two best decisions was to marry his lovely wife Maureen
on November 17, 1940; a marriage lasting over 70 years until her death on
November 22, 2010. The second was taking the advice of Mike Harris and
joining the Veterans Memorial Museum staff.