William Lawrence “Bill” Early died March 6, 2013, after a yearlong battle with lung cancer. He was born on November 17, 1942, the third of eight children, at his family home in Baring MO to Donald Lawrence “Bill” Early and Mary Agnes Delaney Early.
He married Linda Sue Couch (daughter of Bud and Betty Couch) on October 1, 1960. They soon had 5 children – Mary Jean (Jeanie), Linda Ann (Nena), Donald Harold (Billy), John Mac (Mac) and Elizabeth Kay (Susie). These children have also married (Jeanie – Larry Ewing; Nena – David Palmer; Billy – Connie Oldfather; Susie – Matt Thornburg) and they supplied Bill with 11 grandchildren (Carrie, John, Linda and Jean Ewing; Clarissa and Cathleen (Cat) Palmer; Melissa and Jeremy Holman; and Jake, Mac and Baker Thornburg). Before his death, several of his grandchildren have also married and had children which allowed Bill to see 10 great-grandchildren added to the family (John and Toby Durant; Landon, Andy and Ethan Davis; Madelyn, Jack and Molly Doty; Jace and James Holman).
He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, except for Linda Sue Ewing, his granddaughter, who passed away in 2000. He is also survived by his brother Mike Early, his sisters Susie Cahalan, Kay Montague and Betty Jo Early. He is also survived by several in laws – Karen Early (Mike), Ken Montague (Kay), Brad Griffith (Betty Jo), Buddy Couch, David and Mary Couch, Tim and Becky Skinner – as well as numerous nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by a sister, Peggy, who was still born, two brothers – Pat who died in childhood and Dick who died in 2004, and a very special uncle, John M. Early, who helped both Bill and his wife with their children and farm in their early marriage.
Bill graduated from Baring High School in 1960 and soon after married and began his first career as a barber. He trained at the Molar Barber College and then opened a barber shop in Edina MO. He and Linda, while raising their children, began to save money from the barbershop to buy farmland and after several years began to farm their own land and subsequently opened a farm implement dealership that they operated for over two decades in three different towns in northeast Missouri. He was also an owner in the Kirksville Livestock Market in the 1980-90’s. Originally, he and Linda had mainly a crop farm, but over the past two decades began to raise cattle as well. He was a proud member of the American Angus Association and truly loved a great Angus beef steak.
It is difficult to summarize Bill in a few paragraphs. He loved sports and games – his favorite sport was basketball and he was a great player in high school; up to his death he loved to watch local grade school, high school and college basketball. He loved to play pitch, especially when he was winning. He loved adventure – he raced stock cars, drove snowmobiles and motorcycles, and water skied at the Baring Lake. He loved that he taught all of his children to water ski and boat as well. He was a natural taught heavy equipment operator and he could see the grade of land and know how to build a levy or road without any formal measuring or assessment. He dearly loved to farm the land and often said he loved the smell of fresh earth. He had great pride in having the family farm outside of Baring continue in the Early name for over 100 years and that he has taught his children and grandchildren how to farm as well.
He was born and raised Catholic and was a member of the St. Aloysius Parish in Baring MO where he was baptized, had his first communion and was married. He was active in the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Edina and a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was a founding member of the Knox County Jaycee’s, and was an active member of the El Kadir Shrine Club, Moila Shrine Temple and the Greensburg Masonic Lodge # 414 A.F. & A.M. He loved being a part of the communities of Edina and Baring where he lived his entire life.
He had a sly grin, great laugh, and loved any gathering of family and friends. He will be missed at all future gatherings but insisted that everyone celebrate his life, not mourn his death.
His visitation was held at Hudson Rimer Funeral home from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 2013, and his funeral mass was held 11 AM Saturday, March 9, 2013, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church with burial following at the St. Aloysius Cemetery. Father Joseph Hoi conducted the services.
Masonic services were held Friday, March 8, 2013, at 8 p.m. in the Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home in Edina conducted by Greensburg Lodge # 414 A.F. & A.M.
He requested any memorials, in his name, be made to the St. Aloysius Cemetery. Memorials may be left at or mailed to Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home, P.O. Box 1, Edina, MO, 63537.