Bill C. Presnal
April 26, 1932 ~ February 10, 2023
Resided in: Bryan, Texas
The Honorable Billy Charles (Bill) Presnal—Dairy Farmer, Educator, and Public Servant
April 26, 1932 – February 10, 2023
The Brazos Valley lost an iconic state legislator, a beloved husband, devoted father and grandfather, great grandfather, and man of faith, the Honorable Bill Presnal, 90, of Bryan, Texas. A private service was held Friday, February 17th at Alexander United Methodist Church, with Pastors Sam Cutrone, Jr. and Jacob Biswell presiding. Burial with military honors followed at Alexander Cemetery.
Billy Charles Presnal was born April 26, 1932, in Bryan, Texas, to parents Will and Marjorie Marquart Presnal. Their family included Will’s son Robert, and their children together: James K., Allister, Bill, Henry (Sonny), Annie Laurie, and Danny. Each grew up with a great work ethic, a firm foundation in the Christian faith, and an understanding of the importance of education to secure their futures. Bill and his siblings were educated in Bryan schools.
The Presnals were all farmers in the Tabor community of Bryan, and the family worshiped at Alexander Methodist Church, founded in 1856. As the oldest church in the Brazos Valley, it’s poignant that the sanctuary that stands today is the same building as when the Presnals first joined.
In the sixth grade, Bill approached his pastor to go fishing. The two of them sat on the riverbank that day, the pastor skillfully shared his faith in the answers he gave. Bill left that day as a devoted Christian who would ultimately become a tremendous example of faith to his family and the community he served.
As a child, Bill loved being among the cows and performed his daily chores before and after school. Being outdoors in nature’s beauty brought him peace and joy. In high school, he was very active in the 4H program at Stephen F. Austin High School prior to graduation.
it was natural, then, that he’d continue his agriculture studies at Texas A&M, and he entered as a freshman in the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of 1953. When Bill was not studying hard in classes, he was a devoted, highly committed Texas Aggie football fan, and remained so throughout his lifetime. The young man from the country quickly adapted to a large university of young men of similar backgrounds. Hard work was a normal way of life; time management was expected, and Bill’s ability to get along with people from all walks of life flourished in school.
He applied to teach at West Texas State in Canyon, Texas where Bill developed a curriculum for their dairy courses and spent time beginning the operation of the college dairy farm. It was while he was at West Texas State he met his future wife, Mickey McCoy. They were engaged on the second date and married 5 months later on June 6, 1954.
Soon after they married, Bill was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force, and the couple spent two years in Panama City, Florida. After their first year, oldest son James Scott (Scotty) was born. Upon his discharge in June 1956, he returned to A&M for his Master’s Degree in Agriculture. Two more children followed: son, Stephen, and daughter DeAnna.
Bill’s personality gave him the ability to cross over between the farming community with equal comfort among businesspersons. His family noted that he always saw the best in people, that he gave the other person the benefit of the doubt consistently, and he was a kind person.
Because of his excellent understanding of what it cost to own and operate a successful agricultural operation, Presnal was tapped to run for the Texas state legislature. Although his older brother, James K. Presnal, had served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1948–1952, Bill’s talents and future legislative skills were more likely launched as his colleagues saw he could bring people of vastly different opinions together using strategy and gentle encouragement.
Unsurprisingly then, he was elected to represent Brazos, Grimes, and Madison Counties in the Texas House of Representatives for 8 consecutive Legislative terms, beginning January 1969–1971 (61st Legislature)-and through January 1984 (2nd called session, 68th Legislature), after which he resigned.
For eight terms, Bill served as a lawmaker and chaired the key Committee on Appropriations from 1975–1983. Although it was entirely unexpected for freshmen legislators to introduce any bills, in Bill’s first session he introduced 10 bills. He then set a new record as 5 of those 10 bills passed the House and Senate and went forward to the Governor. Two more bills he introduced passed the House. Bill’s public service found him on the most powerful committees throughout his tenure.
Among his legislative accomplishments, he impacted the state of Texas in matters of ethics, constitutional amendments, health, welfare, education, government efficiency, and issues in agriculture, higher education, and water district reform. Bill introduced the first bill in Texas History limiting expenditures for political campaigns. He co-sponsored an amendment creating a State Ethics Commission as well as an ethics code for elected public officials.
His legislative service was distinguished by special commendations, with an official resolution congratulating on his 41st birthday, which noted that he was a “great favorite with both old and freshmen members of the 63rd Legislature. A second resolution was presented on his 51st birthday, which noted that, in all his various roles “through the 16 years of his public service, on the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Audit Committee, and the Legislative Reference Library Committee, he also was active in the Southern Legislative Conference and past Chair of the Science and Technology Committee of the National Conference on State Legislatures.”
Through each act of public service, he “served the people of his district and of the entire state with utmost integrity and dedication; his presence and leadership in the house have earned him the respect, friendship, and admiration of each member.” Texas A&M University leaders noted that throughout the years of Bill’s service to Texas, the flagship university and its sister colleges experienced the greatest periods of growth.
He co-sponsored legislation creating a Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, as well as permitting Texas A&M to construct medical facilities, legislation that improved the Texas Teacher Retirement System, legislation that permitted using Permanent University Funds proceeds to be used for agricultural research and extension facilities. He co-sponsored a bill giving Prairie View College University status, a bill authorizing the TAMU College of Marine Science, and co-sponsored an equal rights amendment.
Locally, he served as president of the Brazos County Farm Bureau, President of the Area Young Farmers, director of the Brazos County Producers Co-op, and President of the Brazos County Dairy Herd Improvement Association. He served Alexander Methodist Church as lay leader, Sunday School teacher, and he even delivered sermons on selected Sunday morning opportunities.
As good as Bill was in his work, his family at home meant the world to him and he cherished the addition of each grandchild that he and Mickey were given by their children. Hearing his name called—“Papa”—was magical to him. Annual family vacations were well planned and joyfully anticipated. Always one to keep in touch with his extensive family, he regularly joined the men on their fishing trips. He also found time to serve as an active member of the College Station Rotary Club.
Bill was happy simply spending time outside with his cows, where peace could be found. Nature was his home, and his world was filled with people he loved and for whom he lived. His moral compass was strong. He was never heard to utter an unkind word about anyone, even his most contentious adversaries. A giving and kind person, Bill knew the names of everyone he worked with from entry-level worker to CEO. The once-shy teenager grew and flourished as a leader among his peers.
Armed with faith in God, boosted by the love of all his family, and possessing a strong ability to focus on the best in people, Bill Presnal left a legacy of service to his city, state, and country, to all who knew him. His earthly journey is now complete, as he entered Heaven on Friday, February 10, 2023.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Will and Marjorie; his brothers, Robert, James K., Allister, and Danny; his oldest son, James Scott (Scotty); his grandson, Jackson Cochran; brother-in-law, Lee Richards; and sisters-in-law, Marguerite, Ruthie, Claudell, and Lou. He is survived by his wife, Mickey; his son Stephen and wife Lynn, of College Station, TX, and their children, Cierra, Elora, and Max; his daughter, DeAnna Cochran and husband Stacey, and their son, Christian, of Milton, GA; children of Scott, grandchildren Shawna and husband Paul Kristynik, of Bryan, TX; grandson, Will, of Bryan, TX; widow of Scott, Leslie, and son, Peyton; and 3 great-grandchildren, Patrick, Jameson, and Cullen. Additionally, he is survived by his brother, Dr. Henry (Sonny) Presnal, of Bryan, TX; his sister, Annie Laurie Richards, of Harlingen, TX; sister-in-law, Donna Presnal, of Bryan, TX; and sister-in-law, Jean Presnal, of Bryan, TX.
The family also wishes to thank Bill’s team at Caring Companions, especially caregivers Monique, Sunny, Gwen, LaVotny, and Teresa for their daily grace and tenderness.
As an added honor, on Wednesday February 15th, Texas State Representative John Raney adjourned the 88th Texas Legislature in memory of the Honorable Bill Presnal.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that anyone who wishes to remember Bill with a contribution, consider:
Wallace Kimbrough ’40 4-H Club Scholarship (Acct. #33577)
Mail to:The Texas A&M Foundation
401 George Bush Drive
College Station, TX 77840-2811
Please express condolences at CallawayJones.com.