William L. Claiborn Profile Photo
1922 William 2023

William L. Claiborn

July 13, 1922 — February 16, 2023

Twin Falls


William L. Claiborn

13 July 1922 – 16 February, 2023

William Claiborn was born July 13, 1922 to Jack D. Claiborn and Emily Wall Claiborn in Twin Falls, Idaho.  He was the second of four children.  Bill grew up in the family home that was built in 1906 east of Kimberly by his grandfather, Edward Claiborn.  That home still stands on Claiborn Road.  He spent his youth helping on the family farm, and he graduated from Kimberly High School in 1940.  He attended the University of Idaho- Southern Branch in Pocatello, now known as ISU, for one year.

Bill enlisted in the Army Air Corps in September 1942, and graduated from pilots’ school in 1944.  He received his wings and commission at Douglas, Arizona.  His subsequent flight training took him to New Mexico and California.  Bill flew single and multi-engine aircraft, including the B-17, B-24, and B-29.  He always said that he had the best job in the war, which was to pilot a Beechcraft AT-11 as bombardiers and aerial gunners were being trained in their respective jobs.  Had the war continued six more weeks, Bill would have been shipped off to the Mariana Islands in the Pacific Theatre.  The war ended, but he remained in the service in what would become the US Air Force Reserves.  His last assignment was serving as Admission Counselor for the Air Force Academy, and he retired as a lieutenant colonel.

Bill met and married Merlaine Hartzell in 1945 during his time in California.  Together they had four children: Kirk, Randy, Scott, and Laurel.  They were divorced in 1964.  In 1965, he married Bonnie Jo Nelson, and added her four children to his family: Kris, Scot, Kimberly, and Kari.  The blended family all resided in the home of his youth.  Bonnie Jo passed in 1975.

In 1976, Bill married Sondra Cedarholm Lee, and added her daughter and son, Terry and Kelly, to his family. 

Bill farmed row crops with his father and brother, Jack, on farms in Kimberly, Hansen, and Murtaugh.  Later on, he was joined by Kirk and Randy in the venture.  During his limited spare time, he was a member of Blue lakes Country Club and Twin Falls Toastmasters.  He joined the Twin Falls Flyers and continued to log a few hours in their single engine aircraft.  He served on the advisory board of the Twin Falls-Sun Valley Regional Airport.  Bill was active in the Twin Falls Hangar of the Quiet Birdman, and he was a member of the Magic Valley Model Railroaders where he served as president.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Elaine Burkey, and both brothers, Jack and Ed.  He also outlived his two spouses, Merlaine and Bonnie Jo, as well as one son, Randy.  He was also predeceased by a son-in-law, Buck Coe.

He is survived by his loving wife of forty six years, Sondra.  He is also survived by sons Kirk (Bev), Scott (Deb), Scot Nelson (Janet Murphy), and Kelly Lee (Shirley).  He is survived by his daughters Lori Claiborn, Kris Schinbine, Kimberly Nelson (Rick), Kari Coe, and Terry Smith.  He had 10 grandchildren:  Kent Claiborn (Janan), Kendra Lockwood (Ron), Jamie Claiborn (Nichole), Branson Claiborn, Coleman Claiborn (Jessica), Stacey Nelson-Kumar (Raju), Kali Kuck, Andrew Nelson (Katie), Lindsey Herrick (Adam), and Kyle Smith (Jessica).  He was blessed to have seventeen great-grandchildren.

Bill outlived all of his friends, and when he started to outlive his children’s friends, then he knew that it was time for him to go.

William will be interred with military honors at the Snake River Canyon National Cemetery, Buhl, Idaho, in July.    His family would like to sincerely thank Hospice Visions and Rosenau Funeral Home for their compassion and professionalism.   Contributions may be made in his memory to People for Pets/Twin Falls Animal Shelter.

 “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”    Hunter S. Thompson


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Friday, July 14, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

Snake River Canyon National Cemetery

1585 E Elm St, Buhl, ID 83316


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