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William H. Houghton, Jr. Jan. 16, 1943 - Aug. 31, 2018

William H. Houghton, Jr., 75, a retired business owner, investor, adventurer, humanitarian and father died Aug. 31, 2018, in Fort Wayne after a period of chronic illness. He was a champion all the way to finish line.

He was born on Jan. 16, 1943, to Jean and William H. Houghton, Sr., in the base hospital on Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas, where his father, Bill Sr., was stationed during World War II.

He grew up in Huntington where he was a member of the Huntington YMCA national champion swimming team under coach Glen Hummer and a member of DeMolay, the fraternal organization for young men that is associated with Masonry. His love of swimming led to a long life of passion towards the water, ocean and scuba diving with his daughter.

In his youth he attended the First Presbyterian Church. Later in life he reconnected with his faith in the Lord, sparked by the Cuban Church in the city of Holguin, Cuba, and continued his pursuit of Jesus alongside Broadway Christian Church of Fort Wayne, where he was re-baptized jointly by Cuban Pastor Rubierdo Ajo and Senior Pastor Ryan Cochran. He continued to give back to the people of Cuba, including initiating one of the first evangelical church building projects to begin construction since 1959 in Eastern Cuba. Bill was the ultimate secret philanthropist. He was a visionary.

After graduating in 1961 from Huntington High School, where his activities included participating in the cheer leading squad and booster club, he enrolled in Indiana University at Bloomington, where he joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. He subsequently spent time in Hawaii before returning to Huntington and joining his father in the retail business.

Bill was a man of contradictions. He bucked tradition yet his sentimental soul loved to build from it and create new ones. The younger Houghton played a key role in growing Lehman Electric & Plumbing, using his vision and creativity to pursue a greater focus on consumer electronics and expanding the business beyond its base in Huntington, eventually founding what became the flagship store in Fort Wayne, Lehman Electronics Wizards. He led a team of 30 at Lehman’s, mentoring many and investing in deep friendships and respect that most would describe as a work setting that felt more like family. He loved strategy and history – he was a triumphant underdog and sewed loyalty with his team. During this expansion he assumed leadership positions in a buying group for independent retailers known as MARTA, or the Metropolitan Appliance Radio and Television Association. He was the president of the trade group known as NARDA, or the North American Retail Dealers Association where he counseled many small and medium sized business owners around the country on how to succeed, including the founder of the giant Best Buy national chain.

Though he was known for his vision and grit, he often got behind others who had a dream. He was generous. He was brave at taking risks, encouraging others and helping them achieve their hopes and goals. He was a great storyteller with a fun sense of humor. He was a thinker – becoming a top student much later in life in Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne’s philosophy courses.

He poured the best of himself into his only daughter, Amy Houghton Warren – frequently planning adventures, travel and life lessons – going out of his way to introduce her to unique women making a difference in their fields. He fervently believed you can do anything you set your mind to, and to find your calling you should take what you’re good at and combine it with what you love. He encouraged his daughter to write a book about scuba in Cuba, and then he jumped in to help. He felt his most favorite years of adventure were those together in Cuba. He later named and helped her launch her company AW Futures, LLC – Cuba Scuba. He was a co-founder, putting his fingerprint and vision into it before later selling his shares back to her. His core belief in fatherhood was, “If you’re going to mess up – do it by loving too much.” He made a bond with his daughter that will last for eternity.

As a grandfather he desired to leave a good legacy to Asher and Anderson and was always looking toward their future. His greatest hope was that they would grow to be strong men of God who carry good character and a good name to his ancestors. He liked to engage in history, chess, goal-setting, boating, swimming, dirty hearts card games and many fun stories with his grandchildren. He will be dearly missed by all.

His father preceded him in death in 2013. He is survived by his mother, Jean Houghton of Warren. He also is survived by his daughter, Amy Houghton Warren (Andrew), and two grandsons, Asher and Anderson, of Fort Wayne; his sister, Janet Bendall (Ted) of Warren; brother Howard Houghton of Santa Fe, New Mexico; former wife Jeannie Houghton (Palmer) of Fort Wayne; and second wife Natasha Houghton of Fort Wayne, and her two daughters, Maria Dervyashkina of Fort Wayne and Lana Dervyashkina of Birmingham, Alabama. He is also survived by his loving caregiver, Renée Wixom.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made for the Cuban Church building project to finish what Bill helped launch. Donations to this project in his memory can be made online at www.broadwaychristian.org/give. Before submitting, be sure to write special instructions for your donation “For the Cuban Church – Love Bill.” Checks with this same memo can also be mailed to Broadway Christian Church, 910 Broadway, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 46802.

Private family services will be held at a later date.