Born in east Tennessee, he was a bonafide hillbilly. A rough and rowdy biker in his oat sowing days, he answered the call and went to Viet Nam.
I never heard him speak of those days. Little wonder. He and his brothers in arms were met with protests, jeers and spittle when they returned home. I suspect he never heard “thanks for your service”.
I met him later in life. We worked for the same company, but I cannot recall that our paths crossed there. Yet we knew many of the same people and shared some common experiences. I had at one time hailed from the same town in east Tennessee that had given us Bill.
After his corporate years he became a fly-fishing guide. eventually moving to a house on the river.
I cannot recall the first time I met him. As I discovered what I consider my home waters, he was just always there, either by reputation or in person.
By the time I do remember working with him on our local Trout Unlimited chapter, he was dealing with life after a stroke. It had stolen some of his and dexterity, but none of his humor.
He was most often the butt of his own jokes. Like the time he finished a guide trip, walked into his home with his waders on and laid on the living room floor to get them off. Failing in the attempts free himself, he had to call a guide friend for help. The friend found him flat on his back , like a turtle who couldn’t right himself. I should mention that it was Christmas time, and he was found under the tree from his attempts to wiggle out of the waders. If I only had a picture.
Then there was the time he gave his burly brother in law a ride on the back of his Harley. Once. Apparently drivers on the road winked at them thinking they were a couple. Be thankful that I don’t have a picture of that.
I do have some pics of Bill that are worth sharing…
Perhaps the measure of a person’s impact isn’t so much their list of accomplishments, but rather how long they are remembered and why.
Although we lost Bill just over eight years ago, there isn’t a time I am on the river I don’t think of him, and wish he was still here. Last night in a little restaurant, “Bill stories” ,as we call them, were shared with new river stewards who never met him. I think Bill probably gets a kick out of that.