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Obituary: William “Willie” Floerke

William “Willie” Floerke (1928-2021) passed away in Corpus Christi on August 25, 2021.

According to Toni Padilla, “Willie was the patriarch of the Corpus Christi Deaf community.” He suffered from “corvid pneumonia” but stood strong while hospitals were filled up with pandemic victims in ICUs in Corpus Christi. As longtime TAD members since the 1940s, Willie and his late wife Mary “Evelyn” Floerke (1925-2019) were movers and shakers, volunteers and benefactors who were instrumental in the founding of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center of Corpus Christi that serves 23 country areas from 1978 to present.

Note: Information courtesy of Dr. Steve Baldwin and Toni Padilla. The photo was sent to Dr. Baldwin on Floerkes’ 50th wedding anniversary on September 27, 1997.

Note: TAD stand for Texas Association of the Deaf

Official Obituary:

William August Floerke
April 18, 1928 ~ August 26, 2021 (age 93)

William August (“Willie”) Floerke was born on April 18, 1928 to Joseph and Mary Edith (Lewis) Floerke in Taft, Texas.

Willie Floerke is known to some as a farmer, raising cotton and grain crops until his retirement in 1989, while to others he and his wife Evelyn are known as philanthropists, devoting their lives to serving the deaf community of South Texas. In 1961, he helped establish the Coastal Bend Silent Club. In 1978, he helped establish the Corpus Christi Area Council for the Deaf. His commitment and dedication to these organizations made a difference in the lives of many. From 1982 to 1988, Willie served as a commissioner for the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing after receiving appointment from then governor Bill Clements. He also served as chairman of the Commission from October 1984 to August 1986.

In 1983, the town of Taft, TX proclaimed the 8th day of October to be “William and Evelyn Floerke” day, in honor of their service to the Deaf Community of South Texas. In the same year, the Pilot Club of Portland, TX named Willie and Evelyn Handicapped Citizens of the Year. Willie and Evelyn were honored for their generous contributions to the American Foundation for the Elderly Deaf in September 1999. In 2004 Willie and Evelyn were inducted into the Texas School for the Deaf Alumni Association’s Hall of Fame. Willie and Evelyn were passionate about the deaf community and were deeply honored to be recognized for their service.

William is preceded in death by his loving wife, Mary Evelyn (Fitch) Floerke, and his son, William August (“Billy”) Floerke, Jr.

He is survived by his sister, Wanita Lou Hanna, two grandchildren, Casey Floerke and Benjamin Joseph Floerke, and great-grandchild Penelope Floerke.

In lieu of flowers a donation may be made to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center of Corpus Christi.

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 AM Saturday, September 4, 2021 at Winsteads’ Funeral Home in Portland with interment to follow at The Palms Memorial Gardens.

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