WWII vet dies with no family
KANKAKEE — Described as a low-key, lifelong Kankakee resident, William “Bill” Langman was known for his love of golf and walking.
But there was another part of him that he didn’t talk about much — his two years of service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
On May 2, Langman died at age 94 at Riverside Miller Rehabilitation in Kankakee. Friends said he had no local family.
His attorney, Deanna Carlson Webb, spread the word of Langman’s death and helped arranged his funeral. She ran a message regarding Langman on the Facebook page for the Aroma Park American Legion Post 1019.
The message was shared about 300 times, an unusually high number, with many praising Langman for his service.
The attorney asked people to attend Langman’s burial on May 8 at Kankakee Memorial Gardens.
“This week has been a sad and interesting week. I know a man and have been lucky to know him for about five years now,” she wrote. “He was born and raised here in Kankakee and lived, from all appearances, a great life for 94 years.”
Among those contacted about Langman was the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Office.
“They asked us if we could send some people to show up,” Sheriff Mike Downey said in an interview. “Our guys showed up and ended up being pallbearers for him. It was a credit to our guys. They’re not just guys in uniform, but humans who care about the community.”
According to information compiled by Webb’s office, Langman was born in 1924, graduated from Kankakee High School in 1943 and then went into the Navy. He was an aviation storekeeper, 3rd Class, and was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for his World War II service.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy in 1946, he returned to Kankakee, where he worked for four decades as a yard clerk for Conrail Railroad, according to Webb’s information.
Langman loved golf, but his preference for walking kept him from golf carts. His hobbies included making rugs, woodworking and cooking.
His parents, brother and sister-in-law all preceded him in death.
Listed in his obituary were two “wonderful friends,” Ken and Katherine Mary Schugart, of Kankakee County.
In an interview, Schugart, 83, said he met Langman about 20 years ago while he was trying to learn how to golf at Kankakee Community College’s three-hole course. Langman had been playing for a long time at that point.
“He never offered me one bit of advice on golf,” Schugart said. “He would come by and pick me up, and we’d go to the golf course, playing in the morning. He’d bring me home, and my wife would have a little lunch fixed.”
As for Langman’s Navy experience, Schugart said, “He never told me much about his experience. Some things he was closemouthed about. Anything you got out of him you had to pry. I pried a little at times.”
“He was low-key. He would always give to charity, and he loved to read. He loved to walk, walk, walk. He was slim and trim, never had an ounce of fat on him,” Schugart said.
As Langman entered his late 80s and became more frail, he stopped driving. Golfing also went by the wayside.
“I got to worry about him falling,” Schugart said.
And he did fall a few times in his last years, worsening his condition.
But the two friends still had breakfast once per month.
“He loved to get out and get a ride in a car,” Schugart said.
When his friend died, he heard attorney Webb was organizing a funeral.
“I didn’t see much use to having a funeral. All his friends were gone,” he said.
But Schugart was glad a military-style graveside ceremony was held.
“I was extremely pleased and surprised,” he said.