William “Bill” Joseph Pickens, 73, of Liberty passed away on Oct. 5. Bill was born on Dec. 9, 1945 in McAlester, Oklahoma. He grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, then moved to Alvin, Texas, in 1962, where he played multiple sports and excelled in all. After graduation, Bill was recruited to play football for the University of Houston. He graduated with a bachelor of science from the University of Houston and furthered his studies at Stephen F. Austin, where he obtained his master’s degree in education.
After graduation Bill was drafted into the NFL by the Baltimore Colts but ultimately decided to follow his dream of coaching instead. His coaching career began at Kansas University then transitioned to coaching high school football in several Texas towns. Bill was known to most as “Coach Pickens.” He demonstrated an unsurpassed spirit, dedication, and service to all students, schools, and athletic programs he coached with for nearly 50 years. Bill had the honor of coaching his own children at Liberty High School for the majority of his career.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, father Joseph Luther Pickens and mother Annabel Tharp Pickens; paternal grandparents, James Robert Pickens, Nita Edna Corbin, and step-grandfather Jack Doyle; maternal grandparents, Zelah Turner and Bernard Tharp; father-in-law, Richard R. Ferrino; and mother-in-law, Ruth L. Miller.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Mary Ferrino Pickens; his children, Jill Pickens and husband John Wallace Jr., Kami Jo Pickens and husband Jon Gwynn, Joseph Robert “J.R.” Pickens and wife Kaycee Gunn, and Kyle Pickens and wife Sadie King.
Grandchildren are Zachery “Zach” T. Murphy, Ty M. Davis, Kylie J. Wallace, Jonathan “J.J.” Gwynn, Dylan P. Gwynn, Payton L. Pickens, Alaina J. Pickens, Jordan R. Pickens, Adeyln E. Pickens and Preston W. Pickens; and great-granddaughter is Maddyn F. Davis.
Survived by sisters Nita G. Pickens and life partner Judy L. Tanner, and Anna Sue Pickens; nieces, Deborah Hvizdos and Jennifer M. McCarty; nephews David Lutz and Thomas “T.J.” Cobb; sister-in law Kathy A. Nielsen; and brothers-in-law Richard R. Ferrino Jr. and Michael Ferrino; along with several cousins as well as aunts and uncles.
The viewing and memorial services will be held at Cornerstone Church with Pastor Harland Strother officiating and speaker Scott Tidwell. The service is Saturday, Oct. 12, with a viewing from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. followed by the funeral service at 2 p.m. A graveside ceremony will follow at the Cook Memorial Cemetery in Liberty.
In lieu of flowers, Bill Pickens requested that donations be made to the Coach Bill Pickens Memorial Scholarship. Donations may be made via PayPal Libertytxathleticboosterclub@gmail.com as well as checks may be mailed to Liberty Athletic Booster Club, P.O. Box 862, Liberty, Texas 77575.