1922 ~ 2013
Bill was always doing something. It was probably appropriate then, that the fall resulting in his fatal injury came while he was in his workshop 'doing stuff.' He simply was the epitome of a doer.
He was an entrepreneur, business owner, fixer, negotiator, do-it-your-selfer; a teller of tall tales with a million true-life stories; a card player, hunter, boater, gardener, world traveler, and veteran of the war in the Pacific. If there was ever a Butcher, Baker, Candlestick maker among us, it was probably Bill.
With an Irish twinkle, and a laugh full of charm and mischief, he could at once tease you, scold you, laugh with you, and just as easily, at himself. He was a remarkable teller of life stories and adventures, and constantly irritated his poker-playing buddies by bluffing them into submission. As a member of Alki UCC church, he held several positions, including Board of Directors Chair, church planner, maintenance manager and fund raiser, raising thousands of dollars for the church.
At different times he was an owner of seven successful businesses; an electrician, a butcher shop, a produce market, and a janitorial business, all in the Napa Valley. But with Bill, everything also had a story and getting to Napa was no exception - working in eastern Oregon, he decided one night it was simply too darn cold, so he and his wife, Loretta, packed up that night and left for Napa. He found work there as an electrician on the Nuclear subs at Mare Island Naval Station and later started his businesses.
In a serious car accident in his mid-30's, doctor's told Bill his broken back would never allow him to walk again. But this was Bill - in a year he had taught himself to walk and was back at work.
In Seattle, Bill was the founder of Pac Marine. PM specialized in cleaning the holds of freighters and tankers. They became the first company to invent a skimmer for cleaning up Puget Sound oil spills. Pac Marine, and Pac Marine Testing, ended up with offices up and down the West Coast.
Bill's brother-in-law had started a copper recovery smelter in Grand Forks, BC, and asked Bill to take it over. He grew the process of recovering copper from slag into an international business that is still going strong today.
After selling everything and retiring at the ripe old age of 49 in 1971, he did some traveling with his wife but, of course, got tired of doing nothing. While on an RV trip, he was offered the job of managing the park at Port Susan. In seven years he added 50 miles of paved road, 2,500 electrical meters and other infrastructure. At the same time, he bought property along the river near North Bend and built (on 5-foot stilts so it would never flood) a 3-bdrm house with indoor swimming pool and solar heating.
He and Loretta traveled extensively up and down the coast, and moved to the West Seattle waterfront. Shortly thereafter, the city bought them out for park improvements. No problem - Bill used the city money to move across the street into a new condo, where he and Loretta lived until her death in 1994.
In the fall of 1996, Bill met his current wife, Verona, on a blind date introduction by a mutual minister-friend. They were married several months later.
Bill was born to William Ryan and Ruby Grubbs in Hoquiam in 1922. Bill is survived by his wife, Verona, sister Bride Kennedy, daughters Barb Wilt and Bev Taylor, stepsons Tim and Mark Morgan, stepdaughter Morgan Brig, 2 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
Remembrances may be given to Alki UCC Memorial Fund or
A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 am, January 26 at Alki UCC, 6115 SW Hinds, Seattle.
Published in The Seattle Times from Jan. 22 to Jan. 23, 2013