William Flournoy; loved carpentry

William Flournoy
William Flournoy
Posted: January 11, 2014

William Flournoy, 96, of Southwest Philadelphia, a carpenter and former drawbridge operator on the Schuylkill, died of heart failure Thursday, Jan. 2, at his home.

Mr. Flournoy retired in 1981 after 25 years with the city as a drawbridge operator, first for the Grays Ferry Bridge, and starting in 1976, for the University Avenue Bridge.

"Carpentry was his real love. The bridge work, with its down time, gave him enough energy to do his carpentry after work," said his daughter Anita Flournoy Nicholson.

She said her father's job, four blocks from home, fascinated the three Flournoy children. In the summer, they would take a blanket, go down the stone steps and sit on the cool river bank beneath the bridge.

Born in Benton, La., Mr. Flournoy served in the Navy from 1937 to 1947, including duty in World War II.

In 1942, he met Ausie Woodall from Macon, Ga., at a picnic in Philadelphia. The two eloped to Elkton, Md., and married on April 27, 1943. They were together for 70 years.

Known to his neighbors as Mr. Fix-it, Mr. Flournoy liked to repair youngsters' bikes, scooters, and Rollerblades. And as block captain, he would open the fire hydrant in summer heat so children could run though the cool spray.

Mr. Flournoy trained in the art of making neon signs at the Neon Institute of Philadelphia, and attended the Philadelphia Woodwork Institute of Carpentry.

He was a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Southwest Philadelphia for 65 years, and served as a trustee starting in 1950.

"He was a strong Christian man who brought us up in the church," his daughter said. "He was always kind and giving."

Surviving, besides his wife and daughter Anita, are another daughter, Joyce Flournoy Wade; a son, William III; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A viewing will be held starting at 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10, at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1411 S. 50th St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19143. A funeral service will follow at 11. Burial is at Woodlands Cemetery, 4000 Woodland Ave.




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