Bill was born on Feb. 13, 1921, in Mount Carmel, the son of Milton and Jennie (Wood) Risley. He married Virginia Ball on Nov. 25, 1950, in Foosland, the coldest day on record for that date.
During World War II, Bill was drafted into military service on Oct. 8, 1942, and honorably served in the U.S. Army Air Forces, 8th Air Force, 96th Bomb Group, 413th Bomb Squadron, based at Snetterton Heath, England.
He attained the rank of technical sergeant as radio operator-mechanic and gunner on Boeing's B-17 (flying fortress). He completed 26 missions in a tour of combat duty against German forces, flying over Germany, France, and Norway.
He was awarded the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Presidential Unit Citation.
He returned to the United States in April 1944 to serve as an instructor at Scott Air Force Base, Air Training Division. He was honorably discharged at Scott Field on Oct. 11, 1945.
Upon discharge, he attained his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His career began at Sangamo Electric in Springfield, where he worked for 14 years.
He then moved to the UI to continue his career in instrumentation and measurements, retiring as head of the Measurements Department after 22 years of service.
Bill was a longtime member of University Place Christian Church in Champaign, serving as an elder, and was active in many service organizations.
He was a scout master for the Boy Scouts of America, a longtime Rotarian in Urbana, a 50-year Master Mason in the St. Joseph Masonic Lodge, a recipient of The Order of The Red Cross of Constantine, and an Ansar Shriner.
Bill was an avid outdoorsman who loved fishing, hunting, shooting, outdoor photography and lapidary. He was a proud lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and former president of the Illinois Rifle Association.
He is survived by his wife; their four sons, David (Eileen) of Rochester, Martin (Candice) of Long Beach, Calif., James (Angela) of Mahomet and John (Gayle) of Belvidere; 11 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and one sister, Elizabeth Boze of Midland, Texas.
Bill was preceded in death by one granddaughter, Robin Davis.
There will be visitation from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Owens Funeral Home, 101 N. Elm St., Champaign.
The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at University Place Christian Church, 403 S. Wright, Champaign. Burial will be in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield. Military rites will be accorded.
In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 11454, Alexandria, VA 22312, or by donating online at www.diabetes.org.
Condolences may be offered at www.owensfuneralhomes.com.