Island Cremations & Funeral Home ~ Merritt Island, Florida ~ 321-454-3331



May 5, 1930 - March 31, 2018

U.S. Veteran

Private services will be held at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery.

William Archie Gentry was born May 5th, 1930 in Alabama City, Alabama.  His mother was Lucille Smith; he had two sisters, Alligene and Betty.

Bill is survived by his sister, Betty Gentry Vaughn of Punta Gorda, Eleanor Gentry, the mother of his four children Steve, Cynthia, Mark, and David as well as his beloved friend, singer and pianist Mildred Bowman.   His eldest son Steve died in October 2012.

Bill “Runt” Gentry was a 1948 graduate of Emma Sansom High School, where he was a cheerleader and played sax and clarinet in the band.  He was also an Eagle Scout. After HS, he attended Jacksonville State Teacher College and was a big band sax player for 2 years playing in the John Long Dance Band.

While working in Dallas, Bill was drafted into the Army, 32nd Infantry and served in Korea 1951 in an Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon. The platoon did front line patrolling and observation of enemy forces movements.  Bill was awarded Korea Service Medals with 2 Bronze Campaign Stars.

In 1954, with help from the GI Bill, he received his BA degree in International Relations from Mexico City College.  All 130 Lbs. of Bill played college football as running back and defensive back.  While at college, he met the lovely Eleanor Kasica of Bristol, CT.  They went on to have four children, Steve, Cindy, Mark and David.  Bill would become proud of five BA’s and 2 masters degrees in the family.

After the Army, Bill took a job with the Social Security Administration and eventually got transferred to Florida. In Florida, he became a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel and citrus editor for the Tampa Tribune. He also wrote articles for trade magazines.

Starting in the early 70’s, Bill founded three Flower Bucket Florist and Nursery’s in Orlando. He became a pioneer in the business of putting flowers in buckets in (mostly Albertsons) supermarkets.  He serviced 65 markets in Orlando and the West Coast.

At the age of 45, Bill began competing in Masters Track and Field.  The competitions included the World Games In Rome, Italy, San Juan, PR and 19 states across the USA.  He excelled in the High Jump and Sprints. He finished 3rd(twice) in the National Decathlon Championship, retiring 15 years later due to knee injuries.

In retirement, Bill formed the Gentry Trio with good friend Midge. The band played in Nursing, Retirement homes and VA hospitals.  The trio brought musical joy to others for 11 years.

Bill passed peacefully March 31 in Vero Beach, FL.   His smile and humor will be greatly missed.   Private services will be held at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery.