Duncan woman raises funds in memory of a homeless veteran - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Duncan woman raises funds in memory of a homeless veteran

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) - A Duncan woman is on a mission to keep a local homeless veteran's memory alive.

Billy Earl Bradshaw, better known as "Walmart Bill,” died January 2016 after a bout of poor health. He was a fixture outside the Walmart Supercenter off Highway 81 in Duncan, where he would sit and talk with anyone who was in the mood for an uplifting conversation.

After learning of his death, Melissa Powell took to Facebook in an effort to raise money for a bench in his honor. Now, it's just a few weeks from completion. 

"He's literally made an impact on not only my life, but my kids,” said Powell.

Powell says she was drawn to him because of his positive outlook on life.

"He was always on the upside of life, never on the down," Powell explained.

Through her constant interaction with him, she learned that “Walmart Bill” was born and raised in Lawton, he joined the Marines after high school and served in Vietnam.

"He had spoke to me and my kids about some of the stories that had happened in the war,” said Powell.

Powell says when she learned of his passing in January, she wanted to do something to ensure “Walmart Bill” wouldn't be forgotten by the community he fought to protect. So, she decided that a bench with his image on it would be a fitting tribute.

She had hoped to place it at Walmart, but when the store rejected that idea, she asked the Duncan park department if the bench could be placed in Fuqua Park, where Bill also spent his time. The city approved her request, so she turned to Facebook to raise the money to create it. In only four days, she raised $400 to cover the cost of materials, and a local monument maker offered to provide the labor for free.

"I was so excited I literally started to cry, because I couldn't believe for one that it was actually going to get done, but when it did get done, I was like yes,” said Powell.

She says if she could tell the public one thing about “Walmart bill” it would be everyone deserves compassion.

"It doesn't matter what we have or don't have, everybody deserves to be shown compassion, grace and love," said Powell.

Powell said she hopes to have the bench in place in Fuqua Park by the end of March.

According to his obituary, “Walmart Bill” also completed three years of college and earned a medal for his service in the Vietnam War.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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