William Franklin Gaines went to be with his Lord and Savior on Monday, November 6, 2023, after a short but courageous battle with COPD and congestive heart failure. He was 75 years old.
He is proceeded in death by his parents, John David Gaines, Jr., and Oris Gaines (nee Beaird), sisters, Louise Gilchrist, Marie Sherd, and Evelyn Reed, brother, Gary Gaines, granddaughter, Taylor Gaines, and great-grandson, Landen Gaines. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Linda (nee Brannon), sons William Gaines Jr., of Gilbert; Eugene Smith (Beth) of Maryville, TN; Michael Gaines (Nicole) of Mesa; daughter Kirstena Crook (William) of Mesa; and Scott Gaines (Jamie) of Chandler, sixteen grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren, with two more due next year. He is also survived by siblings, John David Gaines III, of Gilbert; Dwight Gaines (Melanie) of Tempe; Kenneth Gaines (Addie) of Cottonwood; Juanita Shannon of Phoenix, Marla Lawrence of Chandler, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Bill was born in Mesa (although he liked to say Gilbert, where he grew up) the seventh of ten children, on September 9, 1948. He attended Gilbert High School, and although he didn’t graduate, he received his GED while in the Army. He joined the Army in 1965, served in various capacities at bases in the United States, and in 1967, went to Vietnam and achieved the rank of Sergeant. He was honorably discharged in 1969.
He joined the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in 1970. He spent the majority of his career in Lake Patrol and became a diver to better serve the citizens of the county while patrolling the lakes and rivers. In his off hours, he obtained his private pilot’s license. He received many awards and commendations during his tenure as deputy and retired after almost 21 years.
He and Linda met at the Sheriff’s Office and were married on October 3, 1974, in Phoenix. Wanting to stay close to his roots, they lived in Mesa and raised their blended family.
After retirement, he and his brother, Dwight, had a small scrap metal business for a while. He also became interested in prospecting for gold, which he enjoyed doing for several years. He did some drag racing at Firebird Raceway in a 1960’s Plymouth Belvedere he named “Gold Miner.” Genealogy piqued his interest, and he spent many hours researching his immediate and extended family ancestry. He and Linda made the trek east across country every year for several years to visit family and friends. The last couple of years, when health issues required he spend more time at home, he occupied himself by working on firearms.
He was a history buff, an avid reader and collector of books, and knew all kinds of trivia. He was stubborn, opinionated, sometimes grouchy, a picky eater, funny, intelligent, a John Wayne fan, strong defender of his constitutional rights, and protector of his family. When asked how he was feeling, he’d almost always say “fair to middlin”. He loved God, his family and his country. He was greatly loved and will be greatly missed.