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By Jeana Anne Dishman and W. T. Block

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William Doornbos was born in Nederland, Texas, on the original Doornbos homestead near Jefferson County Airport, on July 19, 1910. He was the oldest son of Cornelus Doornbos, Sr., and May Newman Doornbos, each of whom arrived in Nederland during the town's infancy years. Cornelus Doornbos, Sr., was a native of Warfum, Groningen, The Netherlands, the son of Heino Harmanus Doornbos and Stientje Derks Bouwman. He emigrated to Chicago in 1901 and to Nederland, Texas, in 1903. May Newman, a native of England, was the daughter of Mrs. Emma Burson and step-daughter of Alanson Burson, one of Nederland's earliest businessmen.

In 1915, the C. Doornbos family moved to their new, two-story home at about 1124 Helena in order that the Doornbos children could be nearer to the Langham School on Twelfth Street and thus avoid the long, horseback ride from the airport area. William Doornbos began elementary school in 1916 (a group photo of his first grade class survives), and he graduated from the old high school that once stood at 200 South Twelfth Street and Avenue A in 1928.

In 1933 William Doornbos met his future wife, Opal Vivian Smith, the daughter of Clarence W. and Ida Smith, and they were married on September 22, 1934. On September 22, 1991, they expect to celebrate their fifty-seventh wedding anniversary. Opal Doornbos was born in Mississippi on February 18, 1911, but she moved to Nederland, Texas, at a very early age.

During the 1920s, William Doornbos joined his father in management of the Doornbos family enterprises, and following his father's death in 1954, William's business expertise was to guide the Doornbos Trust Company, now C. Doornbos Incorporated, until the infirmities of age forced him to retire in 1990 at the age of 80. Nevertheless, William Doornbos was to acquire several sizeable tracts of land as his own personal estate, one of which was the Doornbos gas field in North Port Arthur, adjacent to Memorial Highway. In 1976, William and Opal Doornbos donated the 22-acre C. Doornbos Heritage '76 Park, where the Nederland Community Center and the swimming pool are located at South 23rd Street and Avenue H.

William and Opal Doornbos are the parents of one daughter, Barbara Dell, who is married to Dr. Felix Walters. They are the grandparents of two granddaughters, Jeana Anne Dishman, born in 1963, and Dellann Elizabeth Walters, born in 1976, the daughter of Dr. Walters. Their only great grandchild, William's namesake, is William Christopher Morrison, born in 1981, the son of Jeana Anne Dishman.

William Doornbos was one of the organizers and a director for thirty years of Nederland State Bank, now NCNB Bank of Nederland. He also used his business acumen and expertise as a director on the board of the following Southeast Texas organizations and institutions, as follows: Lower Neches Valley Authority, for fourteen years; Lamar University Foundation, for fifteen years; Goodwill Industries, Human Services of Southeast Texas Incorporated; and Three Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which has honored William Doornbos with its highest and most prestigious recognition for scout leaders, the Silver Beaver Award. William is still an honorary member of that council.

William Doornbos' other civic, fraternal, and business association memberships include Nederland Lions' Club, of which he is past president and a thirty-seven year member; United Fund, Salvation Army, Texas Forestry Association, Texas Cattle Raisers' Association, National Association of Independent Businessmen, Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, Young Men's Business League, Texas Gulf Historical Society, the United States Chamber of Commerce; the Nederland Chamber of Commerce, of which he is a charter member and past president; and member and past president of the Coastal Cattlemen's Association.

William and Opal Doornbos' major philanthropies have included Lamar University (the Technical Arts park, library, and other facilities), City of Nederland (donation of C. Doornbos Park), Art Museum of Southeast Texas (the courtyard), St. Elizabeth Hospital; First United Methodist Church, of which he has been a lifelong member; Shriners' Burns Institute of Galveston, St. Mary's Hospital Foundation, Hughen School of Port Arthur, and Goodwill, Inc.

Because of his extensive philanthropies and devotion to public service, William Doornbos has won a host of honors in recognition of his many activities, not least of which have been the honors bestowed upon him by Lamar University and the Boy Scouts of America. He has also been honored as a Knight of the Neches River Festival and Commodore of the Port Arthur CavOILcade. In 1973, he was honored at Nederland's Diamond Jubilee Dinner, sponsored by the Nederland Business and Professional Women's Club, "for his long and faithful service to his community." In 1974, he won Nederland's coveted Outstanding Citizen Award. In 1976, William and Opal Doornbos donated the 22-acre C. Doornbos Heritage '76 Park to the citizens of Nederland during the Bicentennial Anniversary of the United States. In 1983, Williams Doornbos was elected "Mr. Nederland." The City of Nederland proclaimed "Bill Doornbos Day," and erected the following banner headline on a billboard on Twin City Highway -- "Let him skip his bath tonight in honor of Bill Doornbos Day!"

Despite his orientation and predisposition toward business matters, William "Bill" Doornbos was a kind and loving man whose foremost concern was the health and welfare of his family. He spent as much time as possible educating his immediate family by driving them around the family lands in Texas and Louisiana. When Bill and Opal's health permitted, they enjoyed going to church on Sunday mornings and visiting with old friends. When Bill was younger, he yearned to see the world and travelled to Mexico, Canada, Peru, Brazil, Columbia and other faraway places. Occasionally he took Opal with him. She accompanied him to The Netherlands, where they visited distant relatives, saw the old Doornbos homestead in the Province of Groningen, as well as to Hawaii.

As perhaps Nederland's best-known, native-born son, William Doornbos, now in the 81st year of his life, has given much of his time, his talents, his energy, and his substance for the benefit of his church, his family, his neighbors, and his fellow man. He did it gladly because he saw a need and wished to help fulfill that need. In response, he has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and recognitions, which testify in silence to the exalted position of trust that he occupies in the esteem and respect of his neighbors in Nederland and Southeast Texas.

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