Bowling Green centenarian is a living legacy, community fixture

Approaching the short driveway on a late summer day in the rural town of Bowling Green, Missouri, one will likely find William Mallory out back reaping the harvest of his tomato plants in the garden.

“Though he is nearing the young age of 100 years-old, there is not much that can slow him down,” said Shana Sipple, retail manager at Feeders Grain of Bowling Green. “Each spring I can expect to see him two to three days a week buying just one more bag of garden seed, but I know I will see him for some more in a day or two.”

The healthy crop he produces in his backyard is not what he is most known for. Mallory served as a Tail Gunner in the U.S. Army Air Force where he flew on a B24 Liberator. During his time of service, he flew 16 missions from December 1943 to November 1945.

When he returned home, he began teaching as the Vocational Agriculture Instructor and FFA Advisor for the Bowling Green FFA Chapter. This is where he left a legacy and big shoes to fill, according to community members.

“My first impression of Mr. Mallory was between my eighth-grade and freshman years, before I was even in high school,” said Jerry Gamm, 1966 graduate of BGHS. “I remember the field I was in and the tractor I was driving when he pulled off the road to stop and talk to me. He had hopes to recruit me for his program.”

Mallory is known for his sage advice.

“One memorable thing that he would always say was, ‘You know, for some people 80 percent of their life is just showing up. You need to do more than just show up.’” Gamm said. After knowing Mallory for over 56 years, Gamm struggled to summarize his character, finally describing his high school ag teacher as full of honesty, integrity and humility.

His impact has lived beyond his years spent in the classroom.

“Although I never had the privilege to sit in one of Mr. Mallory’s Ag classes, the lessons I have learned from his legacy and random stops at the ag building are irreplaceable,” said Alicia Flowers, BGHS alum and past president of the Bowling Green FFA Chapter. “It always put a smile on my face when I saw his old beat-up pickup truck sitting by the greenhouse.”

Her classes were always eager to sit back and listen to Mallory because they knew they were up for a story and eager to learn something along the way.

“A staple in our community would be putting it lightly,” Sipple said, “Mr. Mallory is a familiar face to most and receives utmost respect from all.”