Bill L. Hankins

November 7, 2020

Billy LeRoy Hankins, known to all as Bill, beloved husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, and uncle passed away on November 7, 2020 after suffering a brief illness. He died peacefully with his family by his side. He was just one week shy of his 87th birthday.

Bill was born November 16, 1933 to Arthur and Maud Hankins. He entered the world in the small town of Stamford located in the prairielands of South Dakota. He was the third of six children, the father to four girls, grandfather to eight, and great grandfather to four.

Bill’s stories of growing up in sparsely-populated areas of the American Midwest were always a hit. Some of the most memorable are those of a very different era and ranged from how they would keep soda cold before refrigeration reached Stamford (he and his father would take ice that was cut from a nearby lake and store it in a cellar for use in the summer months) to the trouble he and his brother would find while entertaining themselves as young children in a small town. These stories were sure to lead to lively conversation at any family gathering.

During his teenage years, his family left South Dakota and moved to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. As a young man, Bill was working on the Garrison Dam in North Dakota when he answered the draft to serve at home and overseas in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Following his service, he returned to Iowa and met the love of his life, Wilma Rae Hartzler (Willie). They were married in Sharon Center, Iowa in 1958 and were inseparable for the next sixty-two years. After a short time in Iowa and South Dakota, they moved to southern California where they raised their four daughters. When two daughters relocated to Matthews, North Carolina in 1997, Bill and Willie decided to move across the country to join them. Thanks to close family ties, over the following years the other daughters and their families relocated to Matthews as well. Holidays and birthdays are busy and joyful times for the Hankins family.

Bill spent the majority of his career in the aerospace industry working as a quality control engineer. He retired at age 59 and has since spent time visiting family and traveling both the United States and abroad. He enjoyed woodworking and creating everything from pens to furniture, and woodcarvings in his workshop.  If you were lucky, you received a handmade gift from Bill for Christmas or your birthday.

Bill was a kind and gentle soul—a lovable rascal with a big sense of humor. He made friends wherever he went. He loved his dachshunds, Daisy and Pebbles, and was always teaching them tricks and providing a lap for them to sit on. His endless supply of jokes, funny sayings, and expressions will be missed by all who knew him.

Bill is survived by many who dearly loved him, most of all his wife Willie Hankins. He also leaves behind his daughters and their husbands:  Shelly Neblett (Bradley), Lori Gerhard (Geoffrey), Angela Walther (Mark), and Jennifer Stoltz (Steven), all of Matthews, North Carolina. His adoring grandchildren are Nicholas Bartleet, Kyle Neblett, Chelsea Francis (née Gerhard), his namesake William “Billy” Gerhard, Nicole Hastings (née Walther), Joey Walther, Max Stoltz, and Hannah Stoltz. He is also survived by four great grandchildren:  Henry & Theo Francis and Emma & Avery Hastings.  Bill also leaves behind a sister, Nancy Hankins Standley, and brother, Jerry Hankins, as well as dozens of nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, Bill was preceded in death by his brothers, Merlyn Lee Hankins (who died in childhood), and Bobby Hankins, as well as his sister, Joyce Hankins Jones.

A private service for immediate family will be held November 22, 2020.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a public memorial service will be held at a later date.  Interment at Sharon Center Cemetery in Sharon Center, Iowa will also be at a later date.

Please share your condolences below.


Share your memories & condolences


  • Marcus and Kaye Hamilton

    From our first meeting, Bill and Willie felt like family to us. We always looked forward to spending precious time with them at McAlister’s, along with their daughters’ families.
    Bill was a gentle man filled with love for his family. He will be greatly missed, but will be forever in our hearts.

  • Julie Becker

    I grew up on Antonio St. across from the Hankins family. Bill was like another father to me when I was young. I was best of friends with his youngest daughter, Jennifer, and spent many days and nights with the Hankins family. I loved Bill’s jokes, funny impressions, the tricks he taught Pebbles, and mostly how welcome I felt in the Hankins home! Sending my deepest sympathies and love to Willie and the entire Hankins family.

  • Carol Hankins Babcock

    I remember bill coming to our house in rapid city with art and maud, and thought him to be a giant because he had to duck going through mom and dads doorways. He was 11 years older then me, after they moved from South Dakota we didn’t get too see much of each other. But the stories my dad told too. George were very interesting of their days in Stanford, so sorry for your loss, just learned of his passing yesterday from my brother Larry. So glad we have such great memories too hang onto after their gone!

  • Sharon D

    When they moved to the fun street of Antonio Bill was the first one I met. I needed to know if he had a girl that was around my age (I was seeing lots of older girls). Just my luck he went in the house and brought her out to me so we could grow up together! So many fun stories and I’m blessed to have him and the family part of my life! He was my other dad and will be truly missed. All my love to everyone! Xoxo

  • Richard Dietrick

    Bill and I used to have a lot of fun. Our trip to St. Louis (to a ball game) was a FAST trip - great fun. Remember how we covered one guy in the back seat with a blanket - must have been 90 or 100 degrees - he wasn't happy when he woke up!

  • Drusilla Blattermann

    I thought the world of Bill! I often commented to him wondering how calm and kind he was after living in a house with his wife and four girls!! All those hormones and probably fighting cover bathrooms! He would just laugh and nod. Such a patient and fun man to be with! His family, including wife, daughters, grandkids, and great grandkids, meant the world to him. Heaven is lucky to now have this great man.