Saturday, June 14, 2014

Father's Day 2014



William Vandervort Pixler

My father, William Vandervort Pixler 1924-1977

Father's Day weekend seems like a good time to share my father's story. Because he was placed for adoption, his parents and ancestors are unknown. Using DNA, I am attempting to find the identity of either his parents or their ancestors. I have found some surnames in cousin matches that I can't link to my maternal side. Whether I can definitely discover his parents only time will tell. I am sharing what is known concerning his birth parents....


      Born in 1924 in Fort Myers, Lee County Florida, his name at birth was Calvin Coolidge Lee.  His mother struggled to take care of him and his twin brother, John Davis Lee. (Their names were also the names of the Presidential candidates in 1924.) On November 14. 1925, the twins were taken to the Children’s Home Society in Jacksonville, Florida by the state of Florida.  In 1999, I received information from my Dad’s file at Children’s Home Society. The file showed his mother was 29 and his father 34 when the twins were born.  The birth parents were not married to each other and each had other children. The twins father was a farmer and allegedly a moonshiner. Their mother had two sisters who, in 1925, were married and had no children. There is no information as to why the twins weren’t placed with family members.  A month later, two days before Christmas, Walter and Margaret Pixler took them into their home for adoption. In anticipation of the adoption they were renamed William Vandervort Pixler and John Pierpoint Pixler. William was Walter Pixler’s middle name and John was Walter’s brother’s name. Their middle names were Pixler family surnames.



The twins circa 1926

     Their birth mother was very upset and both she and their birth father tried unsuccessfully to get the boys back. The state pushed for the adoption to go forward but due to Margaret’s illness and what was to become the depression, the Pixlers were unable to complete the adoption process. My dad (now called Billy) and his brother (now called Jack) remained in their home.  In 1942, my dad and his brother took the names the Pixler’s had given them and legally had them changed. 

Billy and Jack - 1936

     Graduating from high school in 1942, Bill took a course in radios before joining the Navy and becoming a telegraph operator.  Jack had joined the Navy right after Pearl Harbor instead of graduating. My Dad, Bill, was stationed in Jacksonville during the war. Jack served on several different ships around Cuba and the Caribbean. After the war, Jack got married in New York City and made his home there. Bill returned to Sanford and began working at the grocery store, Winn-Dixie.
Shortly after, he transferred to the Winn-Dixie in Eustis, Florida. He became a member of the Masonic Lodge and in 1946 became the Grand Master of the Melrose Lodge #89.  Eustis is also where he met and married Grace Conner, a cashier at the same grocery store. They were married in 1948 and lived in Eustis for several years.
     Around 1953, my parents, Bill and Grace, moved to Sanford and joined the First Baptist church. Bill was a Deacon, Sunday school teacher and Royal Ambassador leader at the church. He had been helped by the Salvation Army while growing up and thought it important to give back that help through his role at church.
     My favorite memories are my Dad playing baseball with our neighborhood team. He was a very good pitcher and we would recruit him to pitch for both sides. He did enjoy life no matter the circumstances. To sum it up, I would have to say a life well lived.
      He was taken from us too early. In 1977, he passed away only a year before his first grandchild was born.

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