William Randle made thousands, make that millions, yield to his right of way on the streets of South Florida.
Randle Eastern Ambulance Service, co-founded in Miami in 1955 by the Randle brothers, William and Robert, was a force. At the time of its sale in 1993 to a Boston-based ambulance firm, American Medical Response, the company operated 45 ambulances, employed more than 100 people and had $15 million in revenues.
“Bill was a very modest man but he was so authentic with a kind heart. My daughter thought of him as a gentle giant,” said his wife Gwen Randle.
In the industry, Randle, who died at 88 on March 17, was, indeed, quite large. He developed national standardization in ambulance criteria.
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“The ‘orange and white’ came from Dad. The high-top roofs instead of using old Cadillacs. Something larger and more usable — that was him,” said his son Kenneth, who became Randle Eastern’s vice president.
The fiberglass-molded top, developed by Randle in 1971, became the model for other manufacturers. In 1960, Randle implemented the first system to record incoming telephone calls to a private ambulance service.
For these initiatives, Randle, who retired in 1993, was honored at the National Ambulance Association meeting in 1991.
Randle was born June 6, 1926, in Litchfield, Ill. As a teenager he enlisted in the Navy during World War II.
His career began in Los Angeles at Schaefer Ambulance Service. One of his first patient transports: the reclusive Howard Hughes who, in 1946, crashed into a Beverly Hills neighborhood while piloting a prototype U.S. Army Air Forces reconnaissance aircraft, the XF-11. Hughes survived.
“Bill had such a generous heart and in his eulogy he had so many friends who spoke…of the kindness,” said his wife. Randle, who lived in Coconut Grove, was a president of the Miami Rod and Reel Club and a member of Coral Reef Yacht Club, Key Largo Angler’s Club and Lake Toxaway Country Club in North Carolina.
He loved to sing, too. A personal favorite: Kenny Rogers’ 1978 smash, The Gambler. A spirited rendition of the tune, sung by friends and family, was a hit at Randle’s memorial service Tuesday at Stanfill Funeral Home.
“That was one of his fun ones,” his wife said, “and everybody loved to sing with him.”
In addition to his wife and son, Randle is survived by his children Martin and Lynn Markell, grandchildren Todd, Sean, Ashlee, Steven and Carrie Davis, and great-grandson Jaxson William Randle.
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