FAIRBURY – A Fairbury man who served his country in the Navy was honored this week by the Jefferson County Commissioners as part of an ongoing recognition effort.
Bill Cummins of Fairbury served in the US Navy from 1951 to 1955 that took him to places like Guam, Korea, and the Atlantic Ocean. Cummins’ military honors include: Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal and United Nations Service Medal. But perhaps his greatest legacy is his ability to be a great role model, mentor and friend to so many young people.
After Cummins was released from active duty he taught and was a coach at Fairbury High School .
Cummins was the Fairbury Junior High Principal from 1960 to 1984. He served as the Junior/Senior High Assistant Principal and Activities Director from 1984 until his retirement in 1994. Since his retirement Bill has served on the Cemetery Board from 2004 to 2016 and has assisted with VFW Bingo.
Cummins said he was truly honored to receive this recognition and said that his time in the military taught him how to be a better and successful person.
“The experiences in the service led me to believe, that if everybody cooperates, you can make great gains.”
Jefferson County officials honor veterans of the armed services on the first Tuesday of every month.
COMPLETE BIO: William R. Cummins
Bill Cummins of Fairbury joined the U.S. Navy upon receiving his Teaching Degree from Peru State Teachers College in Nebraska. He attended 13 weeks of “Boot Camp” at San Diego, California. His first assignment was to Guam; however, upon returning from leave he was re-assigned to the ”LSM422” ship in Korea. It took 17 days by troop ship across the Atlantic Ocean to reach his naval station at Pusan, Korea. On board the “LSM422” ship he served as a Deck Hand when docked and as Helmsman or Navigator when his ship moved to new duty locations. Upon completion of six months of duty he married his wife Imogene.
Bill’s next assignment was on board the “Yosemite,” a destroyer force in the Atlantic with a home port in Newport, Rhode Island. The Commanding Officer Admiral Arleigh Burke (aka “30 Knots Burke”), who was known for his ability to treat his men and their families well, initiated an organized activities program. Though Bill’s primary duties were in the Personnel Office maintaining records, the Athletic Officer quickly recognized Bill’s sports knowledge and abilities and much of his time was spent helping with little league baseball and being in charge of basketball for youths up to sixth grade. He also played an active role with softball, touch football, baseball, boxing and tennis. These activities provided the opportunity to meet some world class athletes. At the conclusion of his four year active duty commitment to the U.S. Navy on 24 June 1955 PN2 (E-5) Cummins was assigned an additional four year of inactive duty.
Because of Bill’s outstanding record in all aspects of life, it became known that he would be seeking a career in education upon completing his tour of active duty. Prior to release from active duty Don McClay, the then Superintendent of Fairbury High School, sent Bill a teaching contract to sign, without a formal interview, so he would have a job upon being released from active duty. Throughout his career he taught Junior High math and General Science, High School PE/Health, and General Science. His coaching activities included: track, football, basketball and tennis. He coached the 1957 and 1959 tennis teams to State Championships. In his spare time he officiated basketball and football games for 27 years.
Bill has a Masters Degree from Peru State College, a Masters Degree from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and has amassed 101 Graduate Credit Hours over the years. He was the Fairbury Junior High Principal from 1960 to 1984. He served as the Junior/Senior High Assistant Principal and Activities Director from 1984 until his retirement in 1994. All these career positions were obtained without a formal interview. Since his retirement Bill has served on the Cemetery Board from 2004 to 2016 and has assisted with VFW Bingo.
It should be noted that Bill’s military honors include: Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal and United Nations Service Medal. But perhaps his greatest legacy is his ability to be a great role model, mentor and friend to so many young people.