Bill was born in the back seat of a car racing up Commercial Drive in Vancouver heading to the hospital. At 16 he left home to make 50 cents an hour setting chokers on Vancouver Island and around the Lower Mainland. He became active in the IWA at the height of the cold war when anti-communism was rampant, but he recognized that it was the communists who fought for workers rights. He became a staunch socialist and had principles second to none in defending workers rights, peace, disarmament, and social justice.
In 1953, during a long fire season, he drove his fathers-in-law truck to his farm in Kamloops. He then settled in Kamloops with his wife Charmian (Chum) and raised their family. He continued to work as a logger, but in 1959 went to work as a labourer for the City of Kamloops. He quickly became active in the City union (NUPE) and was instrumental in the joining of the two main unions in Canada to form CUPE.
Bill was the last surviving union member from those at the 1963 founding convention of CUPE. From 1968 to 1982 he worked as a Business Agent for CUPE. He organized Units of CUPE Local 900 far and wide: down the Fraser Canyon to Hope, up the North Thompson to Blue River, over to Merritt, and Vernon. In Kamloops, the School District and University were added to the local. He loved the working class and fought for them relentlessly. In 1982 he returned to work for the City until his retirement in 1994. After retirement he continued attending union and Labour Council meetings. In 2011 CUPE National honoured him at their annual Convention with a standing ovation from the 2500 delegates as they saluted his more than 60 years of service to the union movement. He was a founding member of the Kamloops Peace Council, often a spokesperson at the annual Walk for Peace, and always a participant.
During the Vietnam war, Bill and Chum's house on West St. Paul was a safe haven for draft dodgers and deserters, helping them escape from the war. Until his last breath he kept up with world events, always with his nose in a journal, despairing at the global crisis we face. He still had hope we could make a better world for the next generation. He was an avid gardener, keeping family and neighbours fed from his bountiful crop, and loved nothing more than to help people learn how to produce their own gardens. Summer time would find him and Chum camping in their little trailer at one of our local lakes, always with a faithful dog at their side. He loved jazz, classical music and the poetry of Robert Service; still able to recite from memory The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Shooting of Dan McGrew.
Bill leaves behind the love of his life and wife of 69 years, Charmian (Chum), his sons Brian, Glenn and Jeff (Janet), daughter Kathy; grandchildren Jennifer, Sarah, Emily, Linsay, Thea, Chase and Will; great-grandchildren Juniper, Zoey, Griffin, Amelie, Silas and Sojie, and his main comrade Dave Werlin (Karen), plus many other friends. He was predeceased by his son Doug, grandsons Jim, Chris and Brandon, siblings Marjorie, Vivian, Harry, Fred and Bruce, parents Fred and Leah.
Bill left a legacy for working people, not just in Kamloops, but across this country.
Rest peacefully Bill - you've earned it.
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Published in Kamloops This Week from Feb. 23 to Mar. 23, 2021.