Freethought Today · September 2016

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

In Memoriam: Bill Teague

Bill Teague, who designed and carved FFRF's first "Atheists in Foxholes" monument, died at the age of 90 on July 9 at Bill Nichols Veterans hospital in Alexander City, Ala. He donated his body to Anatomical Research at the University of Alabama–Birmingham.

Bill carved the monument that resides in the piney woods next to FFRF's southern Freethought Hall near Munford, Ala., which is overseen by its chapter, the Alabama Freethought Society. A second "Atheists in Foxholes" monument was later carved and now sits outside Freethought Hall, the FFRF office in Madison, Wis.

The tribute to nonreligious servicemen and women was suggested by FFRF's principal founder Anne Nicol Gaylor, and also expresses the hope that "humankind may learn to avoid all war." As a veteran, Bill took special interest in making the monument a reality.

Bill was born in Montgomery, Ala., on Sept. 5, 1925, to Arthur Clyde and Mary Evelyn Bible Teague. He was a veteran of World War II, joining the service in February 1943. He served on four ships that participated in support of five invasions in the Pacific, beginning at the Solomon Islands and ending at Okinawa. After his discharge, he continued a life at sea, sailing on more than 30 merchant ships into almost every port in the world.

Bill received his chief engineer license, which qualified him to sail ships of any horsepower or tonnage. After retiring, he operated his infamous "Hobby Shop." He built anything from the tiniest objects to the massive concrete monument in Panther Park that replicates the state of Alabama. Bill and his wife Betty were contributors to the Abe Brown scholarship fund, mostly by donations from recipients of repair work performed by Bill. They also funded individual scholarships. Bill performed assistance to the city of Eclectic, Ala., with minor to major repairs. Most notable are the star shaped signs welcoming visitors to the city and the monuments and improvements to Panther Park. They were lifetime members of the Elmore County Humane Society and members of the Capri Community Film Society of Montgomery.

The Teague family came to Eclectic in 1947 and started Teague's soft drink business. Several years after the business was closed, Bill donated the building and hobby shop to the city with the intent for it to be used as the city library. Bill is survived by his wife, a brother, a sister, a sister-in-law, two stepdaughters and a brother-in-law.

"Bill was secular 'salt of the Earth,' a stalwart of the Alabama FFRF chapter and remarkably talented, hardworking and kind," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "He will be greatly missed."

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