Revised 4 November 2019 by author Lawrence Eugene Vaughn Jr

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Cousins Sharon Sampson and Larry Vaughn 1945


  • Helen Ruth Sampson
  • Oakwood Commemorative Display
  • Ruth’s Obituary
  • William Earl Sampson
  • Virgil Lee Vaughn
  • Bonnie June Whiteside
  • William Albert Vaughn
  • Billy
  • Military Service
  • Broadcasting
  • Carolina School of Broadcasting
  • WYFM Sold
  • Bill’s Death and Burial
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William Thomas Vaughn and Jessie Beulah Phillips Vaughn had four children, three of whom married and had children who had children. My lineage flows from William Thomas Vaughn, top center, to Lawrence Eugene Vaughn, on the right side of the next level, myself on level three with my beloved wife, Lea, and my children in the bottom row. I chose not to include my grandchildren or great-grandchild in the graphic because the images were getting so small it would have not been worthwhile.

Helen Ruth Sampson

The oldest child of Grandmother and Grandfather Vaughn was my sweet Aunt Ruth, who left this earth way too early. She was born 6 Dec 1918, in Marion, Illinois, and died 1 Apr 1970 in Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri.

She was a very sweet, red-headed, soft-spoken school secretary, who had a tenderness that made her instantly appealing to children. She may have secretly been a fairy godmother. (Smile)

She made us, her nieces and nephews, feel welcome in her home when we would visit, treating us like special guests. We were quite comfortable playing downstairs in the basement while she and mother, sometimes even Grandmother, visited upstairs.

She had two daughters, Sharon Lee, born 1942, and Carol Ann, born 1947. They were interesting cousins, because they liked to play school, instead of rough and tumble boyhood games. Sharon was already a pretty good “teacher,” and older than me, so it just seemed right that she should “be in charge.” She would have some hard candy at hand, and whoever did the best drawing, or writing, or whatever the activity, they would win a piece of the candy, which she always passed out ceremoniously.

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I was 26 when Aunt Ruth passed. I was married and serving on the police force in Danville, Illinois. I had two baby boys, at the time, and was quite saddened that they were not going to get to meet her. She has been dearly missed all these many years. Her marker, shown above, is in Grandview Memorial Park, Hannibal, Marion, Missouri.

In the following collection of photos; at top left is a portrait of Aunt Ruth as I like to remember her. To the right is the front and back of a flirtatious photo she sent to her hubby, William Earl Sampson, Jr., who was serving in the U.S. Navy aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

In the next row is a family portrait of Ruth, Sharon, and Bill. In the center of the page is Bill’s official Navy photo, and to the right, in front of the trellis, is a four generation photo: from the left is grandmother Rebecca Ann Snider Vaughn holding Sharon Lee Sampson, with Reverend Lemuel Lafayette Vaughn on the right. In the back row is Helen Ruth Vaughn Sampson, and her father, Reverend William Thomas Vaughn.

The bottom row of photos include Helen Ruth Vaughn, age 3, in the middle, top, is Sharon Lee Sampson, age 5, center bottom is a 1919 photo of William Thomas Vaughn holding Helen Ruth. At bottom right is another four generation photo: Sharon Lee, in the arms of her mother, Helen Ruth. In the center is great-grandmother Rebecca Ann Snider Vaughn, and on the right is grandmother, Jessie Beulah Phillips Vaughn.

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Bill and Ruth Vaughn Sampson with their pastor

Ruth’s Obituary

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Oakwood Commemorative Display

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William Earl Sampson

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When William Earl Sampson was born on November 15, 1919, in Carrington, Round Prairie Township, Callaway County, Missouri, his father, William, Sr, was 26 and his mother, Ruby Myrtle Kemp Sampson, was 22. He had four older sisters, and three younger brothers. His father was coal mining in 1920, and an engineer at the cement plant in 1930.

Bill died at 1:57 a.m. Wednesday, June 4, 2008, at Beth Haven Nursing Home in Hannibal. Services were held Friday, June 6, at Smith Funeral Home & Chapel, with the Rev. Jeff Anderson officiating. Burial, with full military rites was conducted by Emmette J. Shields Post 55, of The American Legion.

He married Helen Ruth Vaughn in Chillicothe, MO, in 1940, and she preceded him in death in 1970. He then married Mary Munger Pestell, and she preceded him in death in 1981. In 1982, he married Dorothea Willis, and she preceded him in death in 1996. In 2000, he married Charlotte Rigg Schoonover, and she preceded him in death in 2001.

Surviving were two daughters, Sharon Lee Sampson (Ron) Walley of Hannibal, and Carol Ann Sampson (Scott) Bridgeman of New London. Also surviving are seven grandchildren, Larry Tischer Jr., Dennis ( Julie) Tischer, Mark { Kirst n) Tischer, Suzie (Doug) Cox, all of Hannibal, Valerie Dodd of Kansas City, Darin Joe (Tammy) Bridgeman of Des Moines, Iowa, and M/ Sgt. Scott Bridgeman of Scott Air Force Base; 16 great -grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren; and one brother, Edward Lee (Mike) {Mary) Sampson of Hannibal. Also surviving are nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Jerry Sampson and Earl Sampson, and four sisters, Audrey Dindia, Maxine Ward, Jackie (Erna Dean) Clark, and Mary Frances Sampson in infancy.

Bill served from 1944 to 1946 in the U.S. Navy as a machinist mate third class, serving aboard an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific. In 1947, he began working at Wendt Sonis in Hannibal, and he retired in 1986 as production foreman from Hannibal Carbide Tool. He was a member of Calvary Baptist Church where he had taught the Men’s Sunday School class.

He was a 37-year member of Emmette J. Shields Post 55, The American Legion, and formerly was a member of I.0.0.F. Lodge, Elks Lodge, Moose Lodge and the V.F.W. He was a charter member and past president of the Northeast Missouri Humane Society, former member and past president of Hannibal High School Booster Club and charter member and past president of Mississippi Valley Gun Club. He graduated from Hannibal High School, with the class of 1938.

Virgil Lee Vaughn

My Uncle Virgil was one of my favorite people. He was born on April 22, 1922, in Carterville, Illinois. His father, William Thomas, was 27 and his mother, Jessie Beulah, was 26, and he had a three-and-a-half year old sister, Helen Ruth.  

He attended grade and high schools in Illinois and Missouri, graduating early, and then went to Hannibal LaGrange College. After graduation there, he attended William Jewell College, a private, four-year liberal arts college of 1,100 undergraduate students located in Liberty, Missouri. It was founded in 1849 by members of the Missouri Baptist Convention and endowed with $10,000 by William Jewell. Virgil formally entered the ministry at 16 years of age.

Bonnie June Whiteside

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He was married to Bonnie June Whiteside on September 14, 1945, in Missouri. Bonnie was born 4 June 1925, at Elsberry, Lincoln, Missouri, to Reverend Gordon Edwin Whiteside and Sudie Zelma Bowton Whiteside. Gordon Whiteside was pastor of a Baptist church in Bowling Green, Missouri.

Virgil and Bonnie had two children during their marriage, sons, Phillip and Randall.

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I always thought Aunt Bonnie was beautiful, and suspected that she might actually be an angel. She always had a big smile on her glowing face, colored her hair a golden blonde, and spoke softly. I thought she was the perfect pastor’s wife.

She always had candy sitting out, and didn’t seem to care if we children took one more than we were allowed.

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Aunt Bonnie had bibles of different sizes open to various passages throughout her home. Anywhere there was a chair to sit in, there was a bible within reach.

I got to hear Uncle Virgil preach a couple of times. He lived in the St. Louis area for many years, serving in various pastorates. When he came to Hannibal, he usually was a guest preacher at Immanuel Baptist Church, where my family attended services. He had a different preaching style than Grandfather.

Rather than fire and brimstone, he was more of a teacher, and encouraged us to take notes and follow along in our bible so we could do more study during the week. Virgil had that deep, bassy, voice that let him easily project throughout the sanctuary without having to resort to shouting. That’s where I developed the habit of journaling sermons, but I have to say, you didn’t run across many pastors who teach during a sermon.

Virgil had tried to enlist in the Army Expeditionary forces during World War Two, while still a student at William Jewell college. However, the draft board exempted him because he was already pastor of a small church. They said that ministering the gospel was going to be very important here at home in the coming months.  

In November 1942, Virgil (left) read the wedding ceremony of my parents. In February 1964 he performed the wedding of their oldest son.

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Left to Right: Virgil, Lawrence Eugene “Gene” Vaughn and Marjorie Gwendolyn White, Helen Ruth Vaughn Sampson. In the second photo, flower girl is Kathryn Ellen Tate, sister of the bride, Betty Lou Majors Leffert, aunt of the bride as Matron of Honor, the bride, Leona Marie Tate, facing the camera is Reverend Virgil Vaughn, the groom, Lawrence “Larry” Eugene Vaughn, Jr, and Best Man, Eddie Foxall.

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Reverend Virgil Vaughn, left, master of ceremonies, conducts the Renewal of Vows on the 40th anniversary of Lawrence Eugene Vaughn and Marjorie Gwendolyn White wedding. In the background, behind Virgil, is David Kent Vaughn, Lawrence (Larry) Eugene Vaughn, Jr., Gene and Marge, Jean Ann Vaughn Seabourn, and Pamela Sue Vaughn Barnum Watkins. Chillicothe, Missouri 1982.


William A “Bill” Vaughn, Virgil Lee Vaughn, Beulah Vaughn, Bill’s adopted brother, Paul, Charlotte, NC

Virgil died on January 9, 1989, at the age of 66, and was buried in Bonne Terre, Missouri at the Saint Francois Memorial Park. Bonnie rests at his side. R.I.P.

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Bonnie June Whiteside Birth 4 June 1925, Elsberry, Lincoln, Missouri. Death 5 Jan 2012, Ironton, MO

Virgil Lee Vaughn Born 22 Apr 1922, Carterville, Williamson, Illinois. Death 09 Jan 1989, St Louis, St Louis, MO

William Albert Vaughn

When William Alfred Vaughn was born on June 28, 1925, in Tunnel Hill, Illinois, his father, William, was 30, and his mother, Jessie Beulah, was 29. He had two brothers and one sister. He died in June 1990 in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the age of 65.

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William Alfred Vaughn and Lawrence Eugene Vaughn, circa 1929


My father, Billy’s brother, Gene, said that “Billy” was always too “delicate” to do chores, and was so meticulous he didn’t get anything done quickly. He didn’t care for the roughhousing his brothers did, and spent his time pursuing his interests alone. He took piano and singing lessons, because he wanted to be of help around the church. He later sang in the boy’s choir, and occasionally accompanied the children and adult choirs on the piano.  

He started first grade a year early, at age 5, and graduated from high school in the same class with his older brother, “Gene.”

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William Alfred Vaughn High School Senior Pictures 1942. In the picture at left, he is standing in front of Levering Hospital, across the street from their apartment over John DeLaporte’s shoe store. Eugene Field Grade and Junior High School, Hannibal, Missouri,  is behind him.

Military Service

Billy enlisted into the U.S. Army about a year after graduation, and was immediately shipped overseas, assigned to a headquarters support company as a technician. He handled administrative chores, including documenting the actions of his battalion.

On 6 May, 1945, orders came down from higher headquarters to ceasefire and halt all forward movement. For the 2nd Battalion, 242nd Infantry. the battle of Germany was over at last. Bill co-authored a report of these actions in a 66-page booklet entitled “Mission Accomplished.” It is reproduced and attached to this material as Volume II, Chapter 44 – Mission Accomplished.


After discharge, Bill found it difficult to find a type work that suited him. There were tens of thousands of returning soldiers, all vying for available jobs. He decided to put his musical talents to work and sought employment at a St. Joseph, Missouri radio station. There was little or no recording equipment for local broadcasters, so almost every commercial was performed live.

Many commercials included singing and background music, which Bill proficiently demonstrated during his interview. He worked there for a few years learning the broadcasting business. He was living with his parents in an upstairs apartment on Krug Street when his father passed away in 1953. His mother was working at the Sears store, and he felt it was time to move on and look for the next step up in the business.

There was a new television station being built in Columbia, Missouri, and they were seeking talent of all types. Bill worked as an announcer and piano accompanist for the live commercials. His mother soon joined him in Columbia, and they enjoyed the work and the community for quite some time. Then,  the University of Missouri took over the television station to create a new college course in broadcasting. Bill didn’t like the terms of conditions for staying on during the conversion. He felt that the station was taking a step backwards, using students rather than professional talent.

He talked to other broadcasters and found that construction for a new TV station was underway in Joplin, Missouri. He applied, and was hired as announcer, piano accompanist, and program manager. The station had begun some testing, so Bill and his mother, Beulah, stored their belongings and moved Beulah to Maryville, Missouri to live with Reverend Virgil Vaughn’s family until they could get settled. Maryville was about 100 miles north of Kansas City, and Joplin is about 100 miles south.

Bill stayed “where he could” during the week, and drove to Maryville for laundry and family time before driving back to Joplin. He enjoyed the work in television broadcasting, and began to do some “fill in” work producing commercials, which he particularly enjoyed. When a position for a full time producer at WGEM-TV, Quincy, Illinois, became available, he jumped at the opportunity, and was hired right away.

He spent several years at WGEM as a producer, did some directing, and became an important cog in the station management team. The station signed on for the first time on July 5, 1953. WGEM has always been an NBC affiliate. It is one of the few and longest operating television stations in the country that has had the same call letters, owner, channel number, and primary network affiliation throughout its history.

Carolina School of Broadcasting

In the 1950s Bill decided that he might pursue a couple of his passions by striking out on his own. He learned that there was a market open for an FM radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina. He applied for the license with the call letters Where You Find Music (WYFM). When the license was approved, he pulled up stakes and moved to the Queen City.

There he established the Carolina School of Broadcasting, which taught technical, professional and management skills for radio broadcasting, and used WYFM as the primary platform for students to learn, test and improve their skills. He established relationships with other area broadcasters, and would place students on their staffs as interns during their training. Many went on to stellar careers on radio and television. He sold the FM station call letters and license, but operated the school with a reduced curriculum until his retirement.

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WYFM, Charlotte, NC, flagship broadcast station of the Carolina School of Broadcasting, 1962. Equipment included a Gates Control Board, Ampex and Roberts reel to reel tape recorder/players, reels of tape recorded commercials in the rack to the right, and edge of 45/33 ⅓ RPM turntable at bottom right. A second turntable was positioned out of the frame at bottom left. The radio station format was classical music, and music was played from vinyl 33 1/3 records.

Lawrence Eugene Vaughn, Jr. attended the school 1962-63, shown above reading an announcement on WYFM. After completing school he returned to Missouri and went to work for KWRT, Boonville, Missouri as mid-day staff announcer and news director, and later for WDAN AM/FM, Danville, Illinois, and KCHI, Chillicothe, Missouri.


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Death and Burial

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Bill’s ashes are interred at Grandview Cemetery, Hannibal, Marion, Missouri

Paul is interred next to Bill with a matching marker on his grave.

Next Chapter: Lawrence Eugene Vaughn (Sr)


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