OBITUARY: William “Bill” Lee Applegate

William “Bill” Lee Applegate passed away on January 3, 2024, after suffering from complications of an abdominal aortic aneurysm which ruptured while hunting on December 10, 2023. Bill remained in critical condition, fighting hard for three and a half weeks. Bill was surrounded by his family when he passed on the morning of January 3.

Bill lived a full life in his 63 years on earth. He was head-strong from the get go, enterprising, and an incredibly hard worker, often saying, “We’re burning daylight,” because he would work from sun up to sun down pretty much every day of his life. Bill did a lot of things in his life, among them was fence-builder, rancher, Federal Land Bank president and teacher, but his favorite was trapper. Bill fell in love with trapping as a child and did it before and after school, on weekends and well into his adult life around other jobs until he earned enough money to pay off his mortgage, allowing him the freedom to trap full time. Bill was active in various trapping associations and causes –– most notably the Texas Trappers and Fur Hunters Association, serving in various roles including president. Bill loved nature; his goal for trapping was never to eradicate a species but to promote healthy balance within the animal kingdom and preserve trapping for future generations.

Bill was born at an Air Force base in Dover, Delaware, on July 12, 1960, to Lee Roy and Lucy Applegate, but they soon moved to El Paso. His family grew to include his brother Steve and sister Leslee. Bill’s childhood was filled by helping around the house, repairing cars with his father, working on windmills with his grandfather, hunting and ranching with his uncles.

Bill graduated from Ysleta High School and then attended Sul Ross State University where he met his wife Gloria Watkins; they were married May 17, 1981. After graduating with a B.S. degree in agricultural business, Bill was hired at the Federal Land Bank where he rose up through the ranks to become president of the Marfa branch. Bill was not a natural speaker, but to improve his skills he became active in Toastmasters and listened to countless tapes about public speaking and negotiation, which he also made his daughters reluctantly listen to.

Bill and Gloria had two daughters, who were supported and loved in so many ways. Bill worked to instill life lessons and leave behind life skills for his daughters in order to make them strong and independent. While Bill was often all about the hard work, he could be silly and carefree, especially on vacations or at parties. Regardless of if he was being serious or silly, he often commanded the room with his confidence and had a mesmerizing smile.

Bill was a Christian who gave his heart to his Lord, prayed daily, giving thanks for all he had, and wanted more than anything else to eventually be united with his loved ones in Heaven. Bill may have passed on, but he is at peace, finally able to rest after a full life filled with hard work and lots of love; he now resides with his Lord and Savior.

Bill is survived by his wife, Gloria Applegate; his children Katy Applegate, Hollee Applegate, and Troy Warren; his three grandsons, William, Wyatt and Jackson Warren; his mother Lucy Applegate; his brother Steve Applegate; sister-in-law Angie; niece Michelle; nephews Steven and Michael Allen Applegate and their mother Charlene; his sister Leslee Martin; brother-in-law Cody; and nephews Michael Lee Christiansen, Shane and Norman Martin. Bill was preceded in death by his father, Lee Roy Applegate, who passed in April 2023, as well as beloved grandparents, uncles and aunts.

The funeral service will be held at the First Baptist Church in Marfa on Saturday, January 20, starting with visitation at 10 a.m. and service at 11 a.m. CST, which will be followed by lunch. Afterwards, the burial will take place at the Sierra Blanca Cemetery at 4 p.m. CST/3 p.m. MST on January 20.

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Funeral arrangements are being handled by Alpine Memorial Funeral Home.