William Lewis Corporon was a man of strong faith. His father was a Christian minister, and so was his grandfather.
The 69-year-old Corporon also was a skilled hunter, and he may have been carrying his own firearm when he and his grandson were fatally shot shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday in a parking lot at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park. Corporon had taken Reat Underwood, 14, there to audition for a singing competition.
Authorities arrested Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., 73, in the killings of Corporon, Reat and Terri LaManno, 53, who was shot to death a short time later at the Village Shalom senior living facility. Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, is being held at the Johnson County jail. Will Corporon, 48 — son of William Corporon and uncle of Reat — said he knows that had his father been given the opportunity, he would not have hesitated to sacrifice his life for his grandson’s. “He would have stood there and said, ‘Take me now,’ but he didn’t get a chance,” Corporon said.
“My dad, too, is an avid hunter, an outdoorsman. He loves to shoot. He has legally been concealing and carrying for years. I have no doubt that if this guy hadn’t ambushed him, he would have done just fine. This coward, this chicken (expletive) with a shotgun, didn’t even give him a chance to defend himself.”
Will Corporon, who lives in Arkansas, also spoke Monday at a news conference with his sister, Mindy Corporon, Reat’s mother, at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, where Mindy Corporon and her family are members.
Mindy Corporon, 45, showed the same measure of kind strength and brave comportment that she demonstrated Sunday when she spoke, only hours after her son’s and father’s deaths, at a vigil at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Overland Park.
“We want something good to come out of this,” Mindy Corporon said Monday. “We don’t know what that’s going to be.”
Reat, a Boy Scout in Troop 92 who had 22 merit badges and was working to become an Eagle Scout, was a bright and enthusiastic student who loved to sing and act. He competed in seven debate tournaments in the first semester of his freshman year at Blue Valley High School.
“He was very proud of that,” his mother said.
Mindy Corporon said she already had made the difficult decision to offer her son’s tissues and organs for donation if they’re deemed viable. She said Reat had recently gotten his driver’s permit, and he had indicated he had wanted to be a donor.
Will Corporon said that his father — who was still working full-time as a physician and had planned to retire over the next several months — died doing what he loved to do most: spending time with one of his 10 grandchildren, ranging in age from 23 months to 23 years.
Reat and his grandfather often went camping and hunting together. The grandfather had taken Reat to the audition because Mindy Corporon was at a lacrosse game with her younger son.
“Family first. Family, community, faith. That’s how we were all raised and brought up,” Will Corporon said. “My dad, or my mom, they were always taking the kids somewhere.”
William Lewis Corporon and his wife, Melinda, moved from Oklahoma to the Kansas City area in 2003 to be closer to their daughter, Mindy, and her two children, as well as to their other son, Anthony Corporon, a lawyer who on Monday turned 36 and who also has two children.
Will Corporon said that his father met his mother when both were young. “They were high-school sweethearts,” he said. Wedded in 1965, they were were married 49 years.
Corporon said his mother was bearing up. “I think she is going well under the circumstances,” he said.
He agrees with others that his sister, Mindy, was showing extraordinary composure. Mindy Corporon is the chief executive officer of Boyer Corporon, an Overland Park-based wealth management firm with 15 employees that she co-founded seven years ago with Richard Boyer, 59, who is chief investment officer.
Boyer said that he has known Corporon and her family for 20 years. He was with the family at the hospital soon after the shooting.
“You know, she is torn up inside,” Boyer said, “and I’m sure she would like to collapse if she could. And maybe she will. But I think what kind of kept her going and keeps her going is that she knows people are counting on her. She has another son who needs her to be strong. She knows how to do that.”
Will Corporon echoed the sentiment.
“She has always been very strong,” he said. “She is very faithful and she is very grounded.”
Corporon on Monday said it was unclear to him how or why his sister showed up at the vigil Sunday night.
“I’m not exactly sure how she wound up there,” he said. “I don’t know if she went there on purpose. Someone said that she and her friend were in that area and just showed up.
“But I have no doubts in my mind that God gave her the strength to stand up there and be be a beacon of light and hope for this family and to be a reflection and a way to say — regardless of the body blows we’ve been dealt — we will get through this.
“That was not just Mindy. That was Mindy with my father and my nephew standing right there beside her, holding her hand.”
Funeral services for William Lewis Corporon and Reat Underwood will be at 3 p.m. Friday in the Church of the Resurrection sanctuary at 13720 Roe Ave. in Leawood.
The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.