He was “Uncle Bill from Porterville” to those of us at Visalia Meeting, director of and guitar accompanist to our choir which met once a month after Meeting, always sure to include the George Fox song “Walk in the Light.” He encouraged our enthusiasm which far outweighed our ability to sing.
Bill gave us many magic shows for young and old, helped us decorate Easter eggs, build paper airplanes and fly kites.
When the Gulf war began, Bill told us he would stand that Sunday afternoon at a busy central Visalia intersection with a protest sign and invited others to join him. We continued to protest once a month for many years.
He organized the South Valley Peace Center. We can’t forget the night time candle lighting commemorations of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing.
Bill’s letters to the editors of at least two local newspapers were frequent, topical and always written as the scholar and teacher he was.
He wrote at least 17 volumes of poetry with various titles and self-published them under his “Poor Man’s Press.” His forward to the first volume stated his inspiration “to put it in book form” came from his wife Jeanie.
A collector and restorer of mechanical banks and the toys of our grandparents’ generation, Bill regularly shared his efforts through a holiday open house devoted to toy viewing, a major magic show and an auction of some of his collection to benefit the Heifer Project.
His vocal ministry often included “When I became a Quaker-“ and we were advised of the importance in his life of another Friends testimony.
Bill and his wife Phyllis moved to Porterville in 1989 where Phyllis taught in the Porterville schools. By then Bill was a retired French, history and aeronautics teacher. They attended and became members of the Visalia Friends Meeting. Phyllis died in 1999.
A lonely widower, Bill met Jeanie at the Visalia Meeting house when she came exploring a new spiritual path. They were married until his death.
We need to remember that our association with Bill came only in his retirement. We have not examined his work with incarcerated persons or his passion for motorcycles. Someone else will have to explore his life when it was filled with “youth and vigor.”
He will be missed by so many. Survivors in addition to his Meeting family include his wife Jeanie and two children, John Warner and Michelle Davis.