William Bryan Bivens, Jr. of Bluffton, SC, passed away peacefully on September 27, 2019, at the age of 66. His wife, Heidi, and daughter, Jessica, were by his side. Master Chief (Retired) Bivens was the son of William B. Bivens, a career Army Special Forces NCO, and Jackie Lou Bivens of Salem, Alabama. He was born on September 26, 1953, in Wiltshire, England, one of his father's many active duty postings. He attended Baker High School in Columbus, Georgia, where he lettered in wrestling and enjoyed working on his Mustang. He married Heidi Ann Kirkpatrick, his high school sweetheart, on December 30, 1972.
Master Chief Navy Counselor William B. Bivens enlisted in the Navy January 18, 1972. He attended basic training at Recruit Training Center, Orlando, Florida. From March 1972 through May 1972 he attended Aviation Fundamentals Training at NAS Memphis, Tennessee, he was then assigned to USS GUADACANAL (LPH-7), homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, deploying to the Mediterranean Sea for two deployments and to the Caribbean. After completing Enlisted Navy Recruiting Orientation in Orlando, Florida, he reported to Navy Recruiting District Atlanta, Georgia, in September 1975. It was there that he was chosen for the Career Recruiter Force and then transferred to the recruiter Mobile Training Team home based in Orlando, Florida. After serving two years he transferred to Navy Recruiting District, Jacksonville, Florida, reporting in the summer of 1983. He spent four years in the Central Florida area and then transferred to Navy Recruiting District, lselin, New Jersey. He assumed duties as Command Career Counselor of Precommissioning Unit ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72) in August 1988. After commissioning of USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN in November 1989, Master Chief Bivens continued to serve as the ship's Command Career Counselor as it made its maiden deployment to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. During his service in the Navy he completed his Bachelor's Degree and began course work on a Master's Degree. Master Chief Bivens retired from the Navy in January 1992.
Bill was rightfully proud of his military service and of having achieved the highest enlisted rank of E-9 in 20 years of service, but even more noteworthy and characteristic of his capabilities were the successes he achieved in his professional career after the Navy.
Before retirement from the Navy, Bill began searching for his second career. He successfully interviewed with and was accepted for an entry-level position with Crawford & Company, one of the world's largest independent claims management companies serving the risk management and insurance industries with offices handling casualty and workers' compensation claims for all major insurance carriers and many large self-insured entities.
Working out of the Norfolk, Virginia, office, Bill quickly put his organizational and leadership skills to work. His potential was quickly recognized by senior management and within six months of employment he was offered the opportunity to be the Branch Manager of a Crawford office in Charlotte, North Carolina. Over the next 15 years Bill systematically and successfully grew the Charlotte office's business, rising to become one of the top producing Branch Managers in Crawford nationwide. He left Crawford in 2007 and joined a startup company in the same claims management industry in a senior executive position. During this period Bill and Heidi researched and visited locations for their final retirement home and settled on The Crescent in Bluffton, South Carolina, where they moved in December 2010. In 2015 he subsequently moved on to another executive position in the claims management industry joining Wright Rehabilitation Services in Roswell, Georgia. He commuted weekly to Atlanta until the Fall of 2017 when he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer that had already metastasized to his lungs. Taking short-term leave from the company, over the next six months, Bill underwent radiation and chemotherapy. He returned to work for four months, finally retiring in 2018.
Bill and Heidi enjoyed 46 years of a happy and rewarding marriage. Being a military wife can challenge the strongest of marriages. Between extended works hours, long periods of separation during deployments, and the constant anxiety of the unknown, a military spouse develops an independence and toughness not experienced in the civilian world. Heidi was Bill's rock when he was away; raising a beautiful daughter while holding down nursing jobs as they moved to Bill's various postings. And Bill was her rock when home. Heidi said it best when she said that he made her laugh every single day.
After Bill's retirement from the Navy in 1992, and during his second career in worker's compensation administration, Heidi and Bill enjoyed international travel especially cruises of which they made no fewer than 40. During a break in his treatments in June of this year, Bill and Heidi completed a 10-day cruise with friends to the Greek Isles with extra time spent in Venice and Rome. Although physically demanding on Bill he called upon his Navy Master Chiefs toughness to improvise, adapt and overcome, making the trip one of the best ever.
Bill also enjoyed weekends on the beach with Heidi followed by drinks or dinner. They frequently went crabbing on the May River in their Craig Cat. Bill was also a 5-year volunteer for the annual Heritage golf tournament, serving as a Hospitality Ambassador at the 16th sky boxes. He also enjoyed a weekly golf round with his neighbors.
In The Crescent community Bill will be remembered for shouting "Roll Tide" at First Wednesday cocktail hours, at the pool, and at many of the other gatherings of his close friends. In return he put up with having buckeyes and other rival team emblems put on his car, mailbox, etc. The instigators of these pranks knew to watch their backs because payback from Bill was sure to follow.
Bill Bivens was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He was a friend to all. Always ready with a joke, good counsel, or a sympathetic ear.
Bill Bivens was a loving husband, father, grandfather, & friend to all. Bill is survived by his wife, Heidi, daughter, Jessica, son-in-law, Mike, & grandson, Sawyer. The family will receive friends from 5:00 pm—7:00 pm, October 16, 2019 at Sauls Funeral Home, 90 Simmonsville Rd, Bluffton. Burial with Full Military Honors will be held on October 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm in Beaufort National Cemetery. All are welcome to attend & celebrate a life well-lived by one of the good guys.
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