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Martin William Bill Guilfoil – Kansas City Cremation Center

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Martin William Bill Guilfoil, was born in Hillsboro, Kansas on November 18, 1922 to Dr. William George Guilfoil and Mary Horan Guilfoil, and died on November 12, 2021 at St. Lukes Hospice House, surrounded by immediate family.

With a twinkle, a wink and a story, Bill Guilfoil made you feel welcome and loved. Bill was considered the original Kansas City tennis pro and known as a tireless tennis and table tennis promoter. A legend in Kansas City and beyond, both for his prowess on the field and his uncanny ability to turn strangers into friends,
Bill loved nothing more than interacting with people and connecting people. Whether at Guilfoil Sporting Goods on Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City Kansas, in France during World War II, at Glenwood Manor tennis courts, at an international table tennis game in Ireland, or most recently at Hi Hat Coffee on State Line, Bill is never a stranger. His family and friends are the source from which he nourished his soul and from which he nourished others.

Raised in the Strawberry Hill area of ​​Kansas City Kansas, Bill grew up in the Blessed Sacrament and St. Rose of Lima parishes and attended Bishop Ward High School. His love for sports and competition and the relationships he developed with them started in earnest at the age of 13 when he received a table tennis table as a Christmas present and immediately found a passion for life. In the same year, he began playing tennis on public tennis courts, including the rock-dust courts at The Country Club Plaza. From then on, he devoted himself to honing his tennis and table tennis skills, promoting both sports, earning titles and confusing opponents for decades with his signature trick services and crazy spins. A two-sport phenomenon, Bill took part in tennis over the course of his life against top professionals such as Pancho Gonzalez and Pancho Segura, and in table tennis against world champions Richard Bergman and George Hendry. During the Second World War, education and the budding tennis and table tennis careers came to a halt for a while. He enlisted in the military in 1943 at the age of 18, and when Copper discovered his table tennis talent, he was initially sent to play table tennis exhibitions at bases from La Jolla to Camp Shanks in New York. He was eventually deployed to the front line with the 331st Company, 83rd Division, 94th Infantry, where he saw combat in France, Germany and Belgium. He was temporarily blinded in battle, but thankfully his sight returned within a few weeks. Gathered after three years in 1946, he rarely, if ever, spoke of his time fighting for our country, and we’ve learned of late how traumatic it was and how much it shaped his life. After the war, Bill returned to his beloved Kansas City and attended Rockhurst College. A true entrepreneur, he started Sporting Goods in Kansas City Kansas with his mother Guilfoil and later grew his various tennis businesses in Overland Park, Kansas. Under Bills’ leadership, Glenwood Manor became a tennis mecca, with major tournaments bringing champions like Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Alex Olmedo, Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Connors to Kansas City. Bill was also instrumental in the formation and growth of the Overland Park Racquet Club, where he taught into his 90s. In his lifelong effort to make sport accessible to everyone, he also founded numerous tennis, table tennis and even racket stringing associations. In addition to his time on the court and in sporting goods, he was constantly developing new business ideas and ventures, mostly around tennis and table football.
tennis. Even after being hospitalized for the last time, he spawned plans for multiple ventures that would spread his love of sports to others.

A true ambassador of all racket sports, he was known all over the world among the tennis and table tennis communities. In 2001, in honor of a lifetime of contributions, he was inducted into the Heart of America Tennis Association Hall of Fame and was similarly recognized by numerous others.
honorary organizations. Bill was intellectually curious, a lifelong learner who was constantly reading
to expand his knowledge, especially in the fields of finance and health and fitness. I consider myself a Doctor of Neuology, he said in recent years. I am always interested in learning. For example, he closely followed research that showed how racket sports can combat Alzheimer’s disease. He said: My ambition is to make people think better so that they can flexibly get up and do something. He practiced and studied these passions, constantly investing and following strict fitness routines and dietary measures that included organic foods and sometimes unusual drink concoctions. His healthy lifestyle enabled him to
continued to compete throughout his life, and at the age of 93 he traveled to North Carolina to participate in the Olympic Table Tennis Trials. Age just didn’t matter to Bill; he loved competition
for health, social and mental aspects. Most important to Bill was his faith and his family. A lifelong member of St. Agnes in Roeland Park, Kansas, he could often be heard speaking mass
choruses and prayers in Latin. However, his deep faith did not stop him from wearing his tennis outfit under his Sunday suit so that he could hit the court as soon as possible after services. In the mid-1950s, Bill went on a blind date with a beautiful young nurse named Agatha Gray Priebe, and found something he loved more than tennis and table tennis. Bill and Gray married in 1957 and she was his partner in the business and in every passion he had, and tennis became a family affair. Together they raised four tennis-playing daughters Bridget, Shawna, Maureen and Eileen, to whom he was unconditionally devoted.

He leaves behind three daughters and their families: Bridget Fitzwater (Montgomery) of Westphalia, Kansas; Maureen Young (Frank) of Leawood, Kansas; and Eileen Noonan (Timothy Troupe) of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; 13 grandchildren: Sara, Ian, Fallon, Leah, Shawna, Rem, Will, and Ella Fitzwater; Frank Jr., Maggie and Casey Young; and Tommy and Patrick Noonan; and five great-grandchildren; his cousins ​​Gloria Murray; Chuck Arnold; Patty Stilley; Joan Horan; Tom Horan; Kathy Komatz; Annie Belinger, as well as many special friends. He was predeceased by his parents, his brother Eugene, who died as a toddler, his wife Agatha Gray Priebe Guilfoil, and daughter Shawna Guilfoil Froeschl.

The family would like to thank Bills many friends for their recent prayers, well wishes and visits in Bills last days, and would like to convey our heartfelt grief that the reality of the pandemic has forced hospitals and hospice to limit Bills visitors to immediate family. Bill knew you cared about him, and that brought him a lot of peace on his last journey. We would also like to thank the St. Lukes Hospice House for their extraordinary love and compassionate care.

Services include a rosary and reception held at St. Agnes Catholic Church on Saturday, December 11 at 9:00 AM. Everyone is welcome to participate in the meditative prayer, music and celebration of Bill’s life.

Donations in the name of Bill Guilfoils can be made to the Bill Guilfoil Tennis and Table Tennis Legacy Fund at the Stephanie Waterman Foundation at PO Box 10776, Kansas City, Missouri 64188. This fund will be used to promote racquet sports to underserved communities, after school programs and other initiatives.

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