There were two big furniture stores all Cedar Rapidians remember growing up. Who didn't spend hours just roaming the aisles at the legendary Smulekoff's even if you never ended up buying anything? We all remember the bittersweet anticipation of its final days, after 125 years in business, back in 2014.

The sad news today comes to us from Bills Brothers Furniture and Liquidators as they and the Cedar Rapids Gazette announce the passing of founder William F. Bills at the age of 88. In their announcement on Facebook, Bills Brothers Furniture, currently owned by Mike Bills, said:

It's with great sadness that we share the loss of William "Bill" Bills, founder of Bills' Brothers Furniture. He was 88 years old and rarely a day went by without him asking my husband Mike how the store was doing and about what new products we had gotten in the store. He started the business 50 yrs ago and was so proud of this community and our customers. We are already getting many condolences and kind messages. Thank you so much!

William F. Bills was born in Marion and went to high school there, worked at Baker's Shoes, and served in the Navy during the Korean War. He came back and worked at Allen Furniture until 1972 when, with the help of his loving family and $12,000, he opened his own shop, which came to be known as Bills Bros. Freight Salvage Furniture. The store is located in downtown Cedar Rapids at 303 8th Ave. SE and has been popular for decades with those who want a great deal on home furnishings.

Like its counterpart at Smulekoff's, Bills' Brothers recovered from the 2008 flood, after temporarily relocating to Town & Country Shopping Center, according to their website. Unlike Smulekoff's, their return was more than short-lived as they are celebrating 50 years in business in 2022.

Our condolences go out to the family and colleagues of William F. "Bill" Bills. Funeral services will be held at Cedar Memorial Chapel of Memories at 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22, where a visitation will begin at 1 p.m. until service time.

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