Billie Frank Rider, 85, passed from this life to the next Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, at his home, surrounded by family. Funeral services were held Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, at Central Church of Christ in Cedar Rapids, with Ministers Darren Johnson and Terry Seufferlein presiding. A private burial followed the service.
Bill was born on a farm June 5, 1936, in Strawberry Township in Lawrence County, Ark., son of Edgar Lee Rider and Vera Lavinia Guthrie Rider. He grew up mostly on farms in northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri, picking and hoeing cotton was a common activity as he was growing up. Bill graduated from Clover Bend high school in 1954, where he met his high school sweetheart and future wife, Silva Nell (Nelliva) Brumley. Bill joined the US Navy in 1954 to qualify for the GI Bill for college. Bill served as a communications electrician for most of four years on the USS Melvin R Nawman DE416 and was discharged in 1958 as a First-Class Petty Officer.
Bill and Nell married in 1956. They lived in the Boston area until his discharge. While in the Navy, Bill taught himself algebra to improve his qualifications for engineering college. Bill graduated BSEE with honors from the University of Arkansas, winning election to honor societies in math, engineering and electrical engineering. He also won one of two National Defense Education Act (NDEA) graduate fellowships awarded at University of Arkansas in 1961, completing his Masters in Electrical Engineering.
Bill joined Collins Radio in 1963, where he spent his entire working career, finally retiring in 2001. Bill loved his engineering career at Collins, retiring as a Senior Principal Engineer. He was awarded nine US Patents for flight control instruments used in aircraft and missiles. He was named Engineer of the Year in 1975 for his work in mathematical modeling and design of flight control gyros. His reputation as a problem solver was built on application of math and physics to technical problems. For many years he was active in the leadership of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) at all levels, finally serving on IEEE’s national and international boards of directors. He was elected a Fellow of and awarded a Centennial Medal for service to IEEE.
Throughout his life, Bill was a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, and he and Nell became faithful members of Central Church of Christ when they arrived in Cedar Rapids. Bill served the church, teaching Bible classes and leading small group studies. He was active in leadership of the church, serving various committees as deacon, then 21 years as an elder. Bill and Nell were involved in short-term mission trips to Ukraine, Honduras and Kenya, and in the early development of Made in the Streets (MITS), a school for street children in Nairobi. They served at MITS on four trips, where Bill taught woodworking and agriculture. On each trip to Kenya, they also enjoyed wildlife safaris. Bill served on the Board of Directors for MITS.
Bill and Nell enjoyed international travel for many years, visiting many Western European countries, plus Russia, China, Mexico, Egypt, Israel, Peru, Greece, Turkey, Tibet, Myanmar, Laos, India, Spain, Portugal and others. For many years, they traveled to NW Ontario for fishing two or three times each year.
Woodworking was a long-term hobby for Bill. He taught himself furniture making and produced dozens of furniture items for the family over the years. He also used his carpentry skills to lead teams of volunteers in constructing wheelchair ramps in support of a local aging services agency.
Bill and Nell moved to an acreage near Mount Vernon in 1993, where they enjoyed gardening and landscaping and a well-equipped woodworking shop. The acreage was great for mentoring their grandchildren. Bill got involved in the Mount Vernon Rotary Club and helped to foster connections between Rotary Clubs and MITS.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents and two half-siblings, Verdell Rider and Wanda Rider Hammons. He is survived by Nell, his wife of over 65 years and brothers, Tom of Paragould, Ark., Carl of Pocahontas, Ark., and Jerry of Little Rock, Ark.; children, Billie Rider of Nevada, Diane Bradford (Richard) and John Rider of Central City; grandchildren, Caitlin Bradford (Daniel Lempia), John Bradford (Mandy), James Bradford (Emily), David Bradford (Paige Zebuhr), and Paul Bradford (Ally) and his treasured great-grandson, Oliver James Bradford.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed to madeinthestreets.org.
The family wishes to express appreciation to John and Mandy Bradford for the round-the-clock in-home care they provided to Bill over the last months of his life. Their loving, comforting presence was a precious gift during this time.