KAPOLEI, HAWAII — Billie Joe “Bill” Erwin, 76, of 92-4997 Limukele St., Kapolei, Hawaii, passed away in his home on December 14, 2020, after a long struggle with cancer. Born in Florence, AL on July 25, 1944, Erwin was well known in the Shoals area as a local news reporter and military veteran, eventually relocating to Hawaii and serving as a civilian Public Affairs officer at multiple military bases.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Barbara Johnson Erwin of Tuscumbia, AL; their children, Christi Donnan (Christopher) of Pasadena, CA and Andrew Erwin (Katie) of Madison, AL; three grandchildren, William Erwin (10), Hanna Donnan (6), Elleanor Donnan (3) and stepgrandchild, Addie Fuller (13); his younger sister, Andrea Coats (Tommy) of Florence and sister-in-law, Sonja Jones, of Tuscumbia and nieces and nephews, Panthea Hodges, Renee Hallmark, Michelle Jones, Michael Coats (Hillary), Scott Coats (Misty) and Ashley Ray (Jesse), all of Florence; Stephen Bradford, of Auburn, AL, and Leilani Nowak, of Ewa Beach, Hawaii. He was preceded in death by his parents, Woodrow and Onetta Erwin and older sister, Faye Jones, also of Florence.
Funeral services will be at Nuuanu Memorial Park and Mortuary (2233 Nuuanu Avenue, Honolulu) today, January 12, 12 p.m. The burial will follow in Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery (45-349 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe) at 2 p.m.
Erwin graduated from Lexington High School, residing much of his adult life in Muscle Shoals, AL, where he was well known as a TV and radio news reporter and journalist working for WLAY and WVNA radio stations and serving as the Shoals News Bureau Chief for WHNT-TV (CBS - Huntsville) for over 20 years. He also wrote for the Birmingham News and various other publications in the region. He attended the University of North Alabama later in his career and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and went on to obtain his Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Alabama. He was named the Alumni of the Year in 2013 from the University of North Alabama and taught journalism and editing classes at the school. Erwin was also active in the U.S. Army and National Guard and served over 30 years before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He participated in several active duty assignments including time in Panama, Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Kuwait and Operation Joint Endeavor with the U.S. Army Europe in Heidelberg, Germany.
In 1998, he and his wife relocated to Kapolei, Hawaii (O’ahu) where he was the civilian Public Affairs Officer for Naval Air Station Barber’s Point. After the base closure, he continued to serve in several different Department of Defense civilian positions for military bases in Hawaii including Public Affairs support for the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and posts at U.S. Army Fort Shafter where he retired as the Chief of Public Affairs.
Erwin was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend to many and spent much of his free time capturing and editing photos and video of his family and friends. He was always the one behind the camera, documenting family events, moments, vacations and sometimes just the everyday life of his loved ones. He had a knack for being tech savvy and was an early adopter when it came to technology, using it as a way to keep in touch. He was also known as a teacher and mentor for many in the area of communications.
The family wishes to give special thanks to Dr. Jonathan Kim and Dr. Jared Acoba, as well as Reverend Chuck Lynde.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society.