William Joshua Seamans (Billie J. Seamans), 97, of McGehee, died on September 16, 2018 in Dermott.
He was born on May 22, 1921 in Dermott to the late Pinckney Samuel and Zura Mae Brannon Seamans, of McGehee, one of their seven children.
Mr. Seamans was a devoted husband to his wife, Dorothy Louise Barrett Seamans, who he met in 1944 following his return from the war and was married two weeks later. He was a good father to his three sons, grandfather to his 11 grandchildren, and great grandfather to his 15 great-grandchildren.
Mr. Seamans loved nature and loved children, to which he devoted much of his professional photography. He was one of the men who were instrumental in establishing the first Pee Wee football league in McGehee. He was member of the First Baptist Church of McGehee and was a member of the Desha Lodge 643 FAM.
After setting his mind on photography as a young man, Mr. Seamans took advantage of an opportunity in World War II to become a bombing raid photographer, flying 50 missions in the 301st Bomb Group from North Africa and Italy. After his first 13 missions as the B17 Ball Turret Gunner, he volunteered to become a photographer for the remaining missions.
When Mr. Seamans returned home in 1944, he began establishing a photography career that began with family portraits and pictures of McGehee, and developed into freelance agriculture photography for International Harvester Company for 20 years, traveling throughout the Southern U.S. and was involved with the development of the Cotton Picker for the company. When the company went out of business in the late 60s, he restarted his local business as a studio photographer and worked until retirement at the age of 87.
Mr. Seamans won numerous photography awards, including a National Award in 1985 recognizing his outstanding service to professional photography, and the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2013. He also served as president of the Arkansas Professional Photographer’s Association in 1977.
Mr. Seamans is survived by his wife of 74 years, Dorothy; children, Jerry Lee (Gail) Seamans of Lake Village, Harry Don (Maria) Seamans of McGehee, and Billie Glen (Jane) Seamans of Laurinburg, North Carolina; and one brother, Harry Earnest (Priscilla) Seamans, Mountain Home.
His brothers, Jack Brannon Seamans and Glen Guy Seamans, and his sisters, Brooksie Mae Seamans Hays, Ena Grace Seamans Birch, and Carolyn Ruth Seamans Ryals preceded him in death.
Visitation will be held on Friday, September 21, 2018 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Griffin Culpepper Funeral Service in McGehee.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 22 at 10 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of McGehee. Burial will be at the McGehee Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the McGehee Boy’s and Girl’s Club Pee Wee Football League at P.O. Box 495, McGehee, AR 71654 or to the First Baptist Church of McGehee at P.O. Box 133, McGehee, AR 71654.