William John Faulkner was born on June 9, 1917 at his parents’ home, 77 Prospect Street, in Lodi, NJ. Bill, or Billy as he was called at that time, was the 4th child born to James and Theresa (Pricken) Faulkner.
He spent the majority of his childhood in his parents’ home on Prospect Street, but the family experienced a major tragedy on November 29, 1930. Bill’s father (my great grandfather), James Joseph Faulkner, using a ruler, placed the butt of his shotgun against the wall, aimed the barrel at his heart and used the ruler to fire the weapon into his chest, thus taking his own life. He was 46. Theresa discovered her husband’s body a short time later when she found him in his office, dead, and surrounded by a pool of blood. My grandfather, being 13 at the time arrived home a short time later to learn of his father’s self-inflicted gunshot wound and subsequent death. As can be expected, I’m told he was heartbroken as he (my grandfather) was “the apple of his father’s eye”, more so than the other children.
With James’ death, Theresa was left with a house of 6 children, ranging from ages 18 (James Jr.) to 2 (John, AKA Jack). James Jr. (AKA Jim) “took over his father’s chair” according to Uncle Jack, while Uncle Joe, the 2nd of the children, had just entered the priesthood earlier in the year. With Jim already being 18 and working, and Joe in the priesthood, that left my grandfather as the only other son who could help provide for the family. He did for a short time but he had also decided to enter the military, which did not sit well with the family and caused somewhat of a riff for years to come. That said, the family remained the house for some time after James’ suicide and at some point relocated to another home in Lodi. It should be noted that the Prospect Street was quite a large home, even by today’s standards, and with James gone, it likely became a financial burden for the family to be able to afford it.
Fast forward to 1941, Bill married Emily Marion Paul (my grandmother), who went be the nickname, “Lee”. They married at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Paterson on June 14, 1941, which also happened to be Lee’s parent’s 25th wedding anniversary (My great grandparents, Fred and Hazel Paul). About 18 months later, Lee became pregnant and on December 31, 1943, my Uncle Bill (William Frederick Faulkner) was born. It was at that same time that my grandfather was in military training and not present when his son was born. There were many letters he sent, which are in my possession, that explain how badly he wanted to be home and how boring his training was.
Bill and Lee went on to have 3 more children: Ron, Diane and Karen, all living. Their marriage, however, began to fail, though they never separated or divorced. My grandmother supposedly had an affair and at one point, my grandparents were going to separate, but then she faked a suicide attempt to win him back (real mentally abusive stuff). My grandfather was devoted to his wife, regardless of her behavior and the reason I mention it is because it speaks to his character and loyalty, regardless of what may have been the better--or easier--thing to do.
They raised their family in Wayne, NJ in several homes on Ella Lane, Chestnut Drive and even a home on Route 23 South, all while my grandfather was running his typewriter repair business. Ultimately, it was the introduction of the electronic typewriter that put him out of business and at that time he went to work for Sears in the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne. Though not happy about it, that move was a blessing because it wasn’t long after that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Thanks to his benefits through Sears, he was covered. In the mid-1960s they moved to Butler and purchased their home on High Street (#37), where the family remained until both Bill and Lee’s’ deaths.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 1976 and battled for 13 months before ultimately succumbing to the disease at 10:55 pm on August 7, 1977. He was buried in my grandmother’s family plot in Cedar Lawn Cemetery where she was also interred, just 14 months after him.
Currently, he has 3 living children, 5 grandsons, 2 great grandsons and 2 great granddaughters. His oldest child, my Uncle Bill, passed away in 1998 from esophageal cancer at the age of 54. Had I had the opportunity to meet my grandfather, I’m told we would get along incredibly well. I believe my grandfather was a kind-hearted man who tried to see the good in all situations, like I do.