Bill Fluke, 60, of Crestwood, a fireworks aficionado,
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died Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. Known in Briarhill
subdivision as "Uncle Bill," he first hosted a fireworks
show for friends and family in the mid-1980s as his
neighbor "Fireman Phil" Hughes stood
by with a garden hose. By the late 90s,
a neighbor helped choreograph the
show to music and it filled Briarhill
Without his knowledge, as families
unfolded lawn chairs and spread blankets
in the park, neighbors took a collection
at dusk to offset Fluke's costs.
He always had a trick up his sleeve.
One year, as fireworks faded into the summer sky and
applause filled the park, Fluke slyly ignited a maze
of fireworks on a chain-link fence that sputtered and
popped until the letters, "WANT MORE?" burned.
The crowd roared as he launched a ground-shaking
finale from a switchboard. He had high hopes. As he
told a reporter in 2005, "You want them to leave and
say, 'I've never seen anything like that before.'"
Afterward, wearing a hard hat and T-shirt perforated
by sparks, he'd slink through the crowd to high-five
his wife, Judy, as simple confirmation that crew members
still had 10 fingers, 10 toes. He honored their
25th wedding anniversary with heart-shaped fireworks
at the show - fitting for a man who bought fireworks
on their honeymoon. Fluke studied fireworks yearround
and shopped the northeast for basketball-sized
shells he handled like newborn babies.
He concealed his fireworks budget, convincing
Judy, "Just know you don't want to know." She said
the same about her grocery expenses after feeding
their army of helpers. The event capped a week-long
celebration as family and friends packed his home for
late nights of laughter and preparation.
Fluke shined in the summertime. As president of
the River City Radio Controllers, he hosted a two-day
model aircraft show every June - Wings for Kids -
to benefit Kosair Children's Hospital.
He worked at Industrial Belting and Transmission,
rode Harleys, cheered for the Buckeyes and spent
years replacing the Lionel model train he loved as a
boy. He treated neighbors like family, meticulously
built radio-controlled model aircraft and loved to
mentor novice hobbyists.
He didn't wear jewelry, but loved to give it. For their
29th anniversary - worried he wouldn't be present for
the 30th - he gave Judy a three-stone diamond ring.
Fluke was added to the Organ Transplant Waiting
List in 2008, a registry of 115,000 adults and children
awaiting transplants. Friends and family say they are
now organ donors because of Bill.
Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Judy; his children,
Chris and Becky; and many loved ones.
Memorials to the
Kosair Children's Hospital and DonateLife.net.
Published in The Oldham Era on Jan. 10, 2013