Thirty Who Dared to Serve Gratiot County in the World War, Part 26: William Lee Shippey of St. Louis, “I was One of the Few Who had Children”

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Above: William Shippey’s Registration Card; Shippey’s marker in Oak Grove Cemetery.

        William Lee Shippey was born December 13, 1896, in St. Louis, Michigan to Fred and Kittie (Bell) Shippey. He was the older of two sons; however, the 1910 census listed a daughter in the family. Other references state that there was also another son.

       William worked as a lineman and that he was a theatrical employee for the Frances Kelly Stock Company. He also worked for the State of Michigan. Shippey entered the service in 1916 and went to Camp Grayling. However, on his registration card in 1917, it said that he had been rejected for service. It is unclear why or for what reasons this happened, yet Shippey answered the call for the draft and ended up at Camp Custer on March 29, 1918.

       During his training, he became a Sergeant M.S.T. 414, M.T.C. 442.  Shippey then trained at Camp Johnston, Florida where he received a promotion to Corporal before moving to the 85th Division, 310th Engineers. After the Armistice took place, he transferred to the 7th Army Corps.

     While with the Army of Occupation in Germany, William Shippey contracted pneumonia during the influenza epidemic and died on February 6, 1919. Unfortunately, his body would not be sent home until early September 1920. When it happened, a notice in the Gratiot County Herald stated that his funeral services would be held at the St. Louis Methodist Church and that burial took place in Oak Grove Cemetery.

       William Shippey’s death was different from most of the other veterans from Gratiot County. In his case, he left behind two sons, in addition to his wife, parents, brothers and a sister. William’s son, Norman, became a doctor and his other son, known as “Bill,” became a well-known educator and coach in Lansing, Michigan. Today, the Dean Shippey Capital Diamond Classic, a well known high school baseball tournament, is named in Bill’s honor.

          When William Lee Shippey died in 1919, he was only twenty-three years old.

Copyright 2018 James M Goodspeed

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