Bill Brantley

Resident, Edgewater 

Bill and his wife, Helen, were the first residents of Edgewater, moving in on Aug. 10, 2009. Bill grew up on a livestock farm near Princeton, Missouri — the same farm where he was born. After high school, he spent five years at the University of Missouri - Columbia, where he received a B.S. in agricultural journalism and an M.A. in journalism.

Helen and Bill married after his first year of college. He was on active duty in the Army artillery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, from 1958 to 1960, then served in the Army Reserve until 1965 when he was discharged as a Captain.

They moved to West Des Moines in 1960. Bill was an editor at Successful Farming magazine for over six years, then worked in specialized publishing for 14 more years.

In 1980, he entered the financial services field and still is licensed to serve clients in life insurance and retirement income planning.

Bill and Helen have been active in the West Des Moines United Methodist Church since 1960. For 40 years they led a troupe of disciples who performed 385 performances of a living dramatization of da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper. The drama was presented in three states besides Iowa, including The Upper Room Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee. They have two daughters and two granddaughters.


Read the Transcript of Bill's Devotional:

Listening to experiences of others is one reason my wife and I live at Edgewater. We first heard of WesleyLife from church friends who had moved here years ago after retirement. One day in a church meeting, the marketing director from Wesley Acres was asked a question, “Do any people ever regret moving to Wesley Acres?” Her comment was, “The only thing they ever regret is that they didn’t move here five or 10 years earlier, so that they could be there when they were healthier and better enjoy the amenities the community has to offer.”

Reflections bring many memories of how we benefit from others. For example, in the summer of 1969, I was one of five men from our church in West Des Moines who went to the Methodist men’s conference at Purdue University. What an awesome experience; imagine worshiping and singing hymns with several thousand other men in the same auditorium.

What happened that impressed us most was the reverend and his cast from Arlington, Virginia, who presented a living dramatization of da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper. We were so impressed that when the service ended, we got in the car for the long drive home and quickly realized we had witnessed something that had to be shared with others. On the route home, we practically organized cast and crew for the drama, and presented it in our church for the first time on Maundy Thursday of 1970.

For 40 years, my wife and I were involved with the drama. It was a mountaintop experience that gave hope and inspiration to thousands of people in four states. It was a great joy to those of us who were involved with it. We presented it wherever we were invited, in locations ranging from missions and small rural churches to the Upper Room Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee, and even CY Stephens Auditorium in Ames, Iowa.

Our church still presents the drama, and it’s been presented several times in WesleyLife facilities, so you may have seen it. Today, this worship-inspired event has enjoyed 423 performances over 48 years. Thousands of wonderful relationships have resulted. What a blessing it was to us that the reverend and his cast brought the drama and shared it with us at the conference at Purdue University. How appropriate that we should remember each day to thank God for our blessings and recall the benefits we enjoy as a result of those who have gone before us.