Again. For the second time in a week I come back from a funeral for a dear relative. This time, it was for my cousin. Second cousin to be exact. But he was much more than that. Growing up, even though his family and our lived in the same town, we were not extremely close. My closest knowledge or contact with him in my younger years is when he, as the area guidance counselor for all the elementary schools, would come through my grade school and prepare us for the upcoming levels of school we would be attending such as high school. He also was responsible for some of the state testing that would be done. I always remember the thrill of him coming and he would single me out and recognize me in front of my peers. They were always impressed that I had a bond with this authoritative figure from outside the school. I also remember how much every kid enjoyed his presence. Never, ever did he talk "down" to any kid. You always felt important.
My first adult recollection of Bill was at the funeral of a grandmother 27 years ago. Bill was there and my father and him did some reconnecting. It was at this time that Bill mentioned to my father about us joining their hunting party. We said "Sure, we'll try it for a season." 27 years later we're still hunting with the same group of guys, in the same location.
Perhaps, my fondest memory, is when I went away to college I found myself with a roommate that was intolerable. Not just intolerable, but mean. He was a few years older than me and was not making my life any easier. During hunting season, I found myself standing by the fire with Bill just talking about the situation. Of course, the roommate's name came up and Bill looks at me and says, "Pat such and such from such and such town?" I said, "Yeah, how did you know?" He said, "Well, I used to coach him in basketball. I know him very well. You want to stop the torture? Well, here's how you do it." I went back to school and without going into details, the torture stopped quickly. This just shows the reach he had.
Bill definitely lived life to the fullest and his teaching did not stop in the classroom. He taught 4 sons, a nephew, a niece, college friends brought up to experience the hunting season, grandchildren. and some cousins(like me) so much through his stories around the campfire.
He touched alot of people and influenced many young people's lives. I, and many others, will not forget him.