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William George "Bill" Oberst Sr.


William George "Bill" Oberst, Sr., longtime Panama City newsman, joined Inga, his wife of 43 years, in heaven on Saturday, February 23, 2013.

Bill passed away at his home on Panama City Beach. Born November 23, 1943, in Birmingham, Ala., to William Andrew and Frances Oberst, Bill grew up in Owensboro and Russelville, KY. Part of a devout Catholic family, Bill attended the Seminary as a young man and considered a life in the priesthood. After leaving the seminary, Bill attended the University of Western Kentucky at Bowling Green, where he studied journalism and was a member of the Naval Reserves.

After college, he served his country on the destroyer escort U.S.S. McNair and the U.S.S. Pocono, which was admiral McCain's flagship. Honorably discharged in 1967, Bill began a long and distinguished career as a journalist. He served as a reporter at the Panama City News Herald, before joining the Associated Press (AP) as a reporter and editor at the Mobile, Birmingham and Atlanta bureaus. He had the opportunity to interview some of the world's most influential people. He announced Jimmy Carter's bid for presidency to the world; interviewed Wernher Von Braun, who helped develop the American Space Program; spoke with Martin Luther King, Jr., just days before his assassination; met with President Ronald Reagan and interviewed him multiple times; and covered the University of Alabama football team from the sidelines, getting to know Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant personally.

Bill and Inga relocated to Panama City in 1975 to raise their children Inga Leigh and Billy. They opened Billy Boy's Bait and Tackle, which was located on Thomas Drive. At the same time, Bill worked as a radio newsman at WDLP, WPCF and WPFM, before joining WJHG Channel 7 as a reporter. He later served as publisher of the Jennings Daily News in Jennings, La, before returning to Panama City Beach and WJHG, as assignment editor and reporter. He opened weekly newspaper Metro in the early 90s, prior to joining the staff at Gulf Coast Community College as news director of the NPR station WKGC-FM, where he worked for more than a decade. He also authored a children's book called The Last Christmas Tree, as well as an unpublished novel.

Upon his retirement from WKGC, the Bay County Commission dedicated a day to Bill for his contributions to the community.Bill loved fishing, watching NASCAR races and his family.

He is preceded in death by his devoted wife Inga, who passed away at the end of November.

He is survived by children Inga Leigh Oberst (Edward Chao) of Port Orchard, Wash., and William George "Bill" Oberst, Jr. (Stephenie Marlowe) of Panama City; grandchildren Trent and Will Oberst of Panama City and Spencer and Kate Chao of Port Orchard, Wash.; sister Diane Steiner (Robert) of Panama City Beach; Great Aunts Georgia " Dago" Kohlhagen of Panama City, Clara Mae Oberst Masley of Delaware, and Helene Oberst of Atlanta, Ga.; Nephew and God Son Rick Steiner (Jessica) of Panama City, Great Nephew Kassidy Steiner of Panama City; cousins Chuck Kohlhagen of Tallahassee and G.G.(Linda) Kohlhagen of Laguna Nigel, Ca., Graham (Lindsey) and Maverick Kohlhagen of Panama City Beach, and Cody Kohlhagen of Colorado.

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, March 2, 2013, at St. Bernadette Catholic with Fr. Ted Sosnowski officiating. Entombment will follow at Forest Lawn Cemetery. The family will receive friends at Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home Friday, March 1, 2013 from 6:00 until 8:00 PM.

Kent-Forest Lawn
Funeral Home
2403 Harrison Ave.
Panama City, Fla. 32405
850-763-4694
www.kentforestlawn.com

Published in Panama City News Herald from Feb. 27 to Feb. 28, 2013
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