MERIDIAN — The end years
Thirty years of struggle and a high-flying lifestyle seemed to harden Buntin. Despite all his successes, Bosarge said it always appeared her brother was searching in vain for happiness.
“It was like he was always looking for something,” she said. “I think he thought all of the winning, the publicity, the center stage might fill that void, but it just didn’t.”
It was Bosarge perhaps who knew her brother better than anyone else. However, years of being pitted against each other by their father while children left a lasting stain on their relationship.
Bosarge would often bake her brother pies for their meetings together, hoping only for a thank you that never seemed to come.
“It would drive me crazy,” she said with a chuckle. “He would never say thank you for anything. All I wanted him to say was 'thank you,' and no matter what, he just wouldn’t say it.”
They continued to remain close, however, as Bosarge would help Buntin take care of his three children, baby sitting his newborn boy, Sean, from time to time.
On Jan. 17 1970, Buntin made his way over to his sister’s house as she promised to take care of Sean while he took his stepson Michael out to see a movie. Buntin dropped off Sean and hurried back to his car just like he had done so many times before –– only, this time was different.
After getting back to the car, Buntin turned back around and headed towards the house. Surprised to hear a knock, Bosarge opened the door and questioned if her brother had left something behind. Buntin looked directly into her eyes, smiled and said "thank you," pausing for just a moment before turning back.
“That was a gift to me,” Barbara said. “I was not expecting it at all.”
Those two words would be the last he would share with his sister. Buntin died the next day of a conduction defect in his heart, slipping out of the world he lived in just as fast as he lived it.
Buntin is now buried in Gumlog Cemetery in Bailey, next to his mother and father. Above the name William Oliver Buntin on his tombstone reads simply “Bill”, a reminder of his racing days and of the man some say few could catch and none could match.
“When I look back at his life, it’s just amazing all he accomplished in that short of time,” Farmer said. “He did more in those 30 years than most people could ever do in a whole lifetime.”