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Billy Don Gramlich

Billy Don Gramlich of Marietta, Ga., died Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. He was born in Charleston on Nov. 19, 1938, to his late parents, Joseph Franklin Gramlich and Flora Anice Gramlich. Billy Don attended Belle Grove Elementary School and graduated from Fort Smith High School in 1956. A captain of the 1956 Grizzlies, he was recruited by coach Jack Mitchell. Billy Don wore number 54 playing linebacker and center for the Razorbacks. In those years, players played both offense and defense. The other linebacker-centers at the time were Barry Switzer, number 53, and Wayne Harris, number 55. All were on the Southwest Conference championship teams of 1959 and 1960 coached by Frank Broyles. Billy Don was the snapper on the fourth-quarter field goal by Mickey Cissell that won the 1960 Texas game, 24-23.

On June 7, 1959, Billy Don married Carol Sue McKinney of Fort Smith. The couple recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. Billy Don is survived by his loving wife; his daughter, Gaye Rhyne and husband Jay; his son, Grant Gramlich and wife Angela Chan; his granddaughter, Brittney Frye and husband Ben; his grandson, Kevin Bothwell; and his great-grandson, Bennett Frye

While growing up in Fort Smith, Billy Don had a fine academic record in public schools, where he participated in athletics. At the Fort Smith Boys Club, where he worked in his youth, his sports were football, basketball, baseball and boxing and his coaches included Wayne Kistler, Maurice Katzer, Jack Crane and Bobby Prince.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas in 1960 and newly married, Billy Don went to work for Retail Credit Corp. and remained with the company for 30 years, becoming an executive vice-president of the company, which changed its name to Equifax in 1975.

Since his retirement in 1991, Billy Don and Carol Sue resided in Georgia, coming to Fort Smith to visit his relatives and friends several times a year and to attend Razorback reunions with his former teammates, Joe Paul Alberty, Thomas Bach, Harold Horton and Jarrell Williams.

Billy Don’s joy and hobbies included spending time with children and grandchildren and caring for his family’s beloved dogs.

A memorial was held in Marietta following cremation. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club or to the Humane Society.

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