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Serving for a Lifetime – Bill Fleenor

Author: David Davolt
Published on: January 14, 2021

William (Bill) Fleenor was introduced to Boise Bible College when a visiting professor taught a class at his church in Dunsmuir, CA. He had already been receiving a great education in night classes taught by church leaders Hal and Margel Bowman and Don and Ruth Jessup but decided he wanted more in-depth training. He moved to Boise and started classes in 1954. Bill graduated in 1958 with a BSL degree, alongside one other graduate, Betty (Poyer) Wickwire. They were In the 8th graduating class of Boise Bible College.

Kenny Beckman and Dale Knowles impacted him with their teaching. Thelma Serl, a graduate who had become a professor, often needed a ride. Bill had a car that most students didn’t want to ride in, but Thelma didn’t care. Often accompanied by other single ladies as well, he took her to many new churches and other engagements.

Bill describes the life of a professor back in that day as “catch as catch can.” They did what they needed to do to get by. They all had other jobs, and class schedules were sometimes staggered to accommodate them.

The dorms were made from former Army barracks, with men’s and women’s wings separated by the cafeteria. Edith Granger was the dorm parent, and a mother-daughter team did the laundry. There was a table tennis room, and Bill became the champion on campus, eventually getting kicked out of the room for spending too much time there.

Working at a bakery owned by a Mormon couple, Bill often had the opportunity to discuss and sharpen his faith. There were times when he may have been a bit too bold and needed to learn some grace in his approach. He also worked for a plumber, then a paint and glass shop, often working in Boise’s rough parts where people gave him a hard time about his faith. He was able to defend it well due to the quality of teaching he was receiving.

He also defended Thelma Serl when some of the guys wanted to change the chapel service, but she didn’t. They told her, “You’re just a woman; you can’t tell us what to do.” Bill stepped in, saying, “She is here by the authority of the elders,” and they changed their minds. He says, “I always admired that lady.”

Bill was a good student. At one point, all the professors agreed he knew as much as they did in their fields. One day in class, during a discussion of the fixtures in the tabernacle, the others couldn’t remember what the decorations on the candlesticks’ tops were. He said, “They were almond blossoms.” No one believed him. Professor Beckman said, “You asked. He said it.” They accepted that and moved on.

Bill became close friends with Professor Knowles and his family, and they remain close today. Dale would later become the minister in San Luis Obispo.

During Bill’s BBC years, Jim Brown, from Fig Street Church of Christ in Sacramento, came to speak. Bill was impressed with him, so after he graduated, he moved to Sacramento to work with and learn from him, taking a job at the post office to pay the bills.

He had been in Sacramento a few years when he took a trip to San Luis Obispo to observe the Christian school there. On the trip, he met Jerry Dillon, who recruited him to preach at the Church of Christ in Morro Bay; a few years later, he took that position.

Another motivating factor for the trip was a young lady named Louise Omholt. Bill and Louise had met at Cool Creek Bible Camp as teenagers, and she was now teaching school in San Luis Obispo.

Bill and Louise were married in 1962 and had their first two children while living in Sacramento. Lisa Divicenzo lives in Happy Valley, Oregon today, while Bruce Fleenor lives in Eagle, Idaho, after 20 years of ministry in southern California. The family then moved to Morro Bay for the ministry there, and two more children were born. Eileen Still now lives in Morro Bay, and Paul Fleenor lives in El Paso, Texas. These four children have given Bill and Louise 13 grandchildren.

As the family grew, their needs outgrew the salary the church was able to offer. Bill took a job at Atascadero State Hospital as a psychiatric technician, where he stayed until he retired. During that time, he served as a teacher and elder in various churches on California’s central coast. Bill is now 86 years old. He and Louise now attend Morro Bay Church of Christ.

Bill’s son, Bruce, shares that his father is the epitome of a humble scholar. Bill says he is still learning today, learning how to appreciate people, and learning about himself.