MORTIMER, Bill Gene 1/6/1939 - 9/7/2018 Son, Husband, Father, Cowboy, Rodeo Clown, Disc Jockey, News Anchor, Racecar Driver, Army Sgt, Artist, Poet, Copy Writer, Author, 2016 Arizona Broadcast Hall of Famer, Animal Lover, Genius Wit, Velvet Voice Bill was born in Tucson at the Storks Nest and grew up on Historic Canoa Ranch in Amado where his grandfather was foreman. Bill's career and varied sidelines include 60 years as a radio air personality, clowning rodeos, announcing motor racing events as well as participating in them, from super-modifieds at Tucson Speedway to racing karts while in the U.S. Army and stationed in Tokyo Japan. During his time in the Military he worked as a part-time disc jockey on AFRTS. He has announced drag racing, Greyhound and circle track events as well as the Tucson Rodeo Parade and Rodeo event. He served on the Tucson Rodeo Committee for 11 years and belonged to the Society of Southwestern Authors. His personal stories of ranch life have been published in national magazines and in newspapers. Bill's radio career began in Tucson on KAIR located in the Santa Rita Hotel and where he met a friend for life Gary Raffanelli. When that station changed hands Bill went to KMOP another country music station. After three years he moved to KCUB when they were located in the KVOA building and playing MOR. A sale re-located the station to downtown Tucson and changed formats to Country. Bill did remote broadcasts and even a hot air balloon race with Ed Alexander that crash landed in a Marana cotton field. In 1978 Bill moved to New Mexico, running a county music station in Carlsbad, then to Albuquerque, and Farmington where he was on-air with Don Wallace. Bill returned to Tucson as a single father in 1980 raising Matt his toddler son. Mentor Jim Slone hired him at KCUB but an offer from KCEE and Foss Tucker lured Bill into rock 'n roll, where he developed his alter-ego 'Chef Morte' giving ingredients over the air and making his own kitchen sound effects for "Whats Cooking" a midday call in show. Bill enjoyed five successful years at KCEE also as morning-drive air personality teamed with Alan Michaels, hosting events at Sea World and even getting minister certified to marry a couple on a flight to Los Vegas and at a Ball Game where the San Diego Chicken was witness. After a short stint at KIIM he returned to KCUB/KTUC as PD where he produced Noon Time Reflections and the Outwest Show. In 2002 Bill was hired by Jack Parris at KUAZ/KUAT (NPR) as news anchor/producer alongside co-workers Bill Buckmaster, Robert Rappaport and Nelson Warnell. Over the years Bill has done voice-overs, production and hosted live interviews with authors, politicians and entertainers. He was on stage in 2000 as MC for the Western Music Association Barn Dance. Bill is preceded in death by his mother Louise Thomas Mortimer, the man who raised him Glenn Mortimer and his biological father who he never knew Ray Wills. Bill is survived by his wife, Suzanne Tilden-Mortimer; first wife, Susie Mortimer and their son, Mathew Mortimer; stepson, Brian Morris; New Mexico cousins Sandra Buchanan, Marsha Males, Bob Phillips and three half-brothers he tried to meet, Ray Jr., Stephen and Douglas Wills. Bill will be missed by 1958 Amphitheater high school classmates, the Jolly Boys Coffee Crew started years ago by longtime friend Larry Schnebly, Radio Peeps including Jim Arnold, Bob Lee, Burt Schneider, and Ray Lindstrom, friends from childhood that were more like brothers Chuck McMullen and Mike Fritzinger, friends that treated Bill like family, Bob Morris, Terry Tanner, Jim and Laura Walters plus new friends John Stauffer and Lou Nave in Green Valley where Bill was heard on the local radio station KGVY thanks to owners Chet and Deanna Walker, Jocks: Andy Taylor, Bob Hale, Steve Wagner and Tim McKay. Bill who never smoked was diagnosed in December 2013 with Stage 4 Adenocarcinoma lung cancer. After months of chemo during 2014 at the Tucson VA his cancer went into partial remission until June 2017 and then he received immune Therapy twice per month. Sadly, in June of 2018 the cancer spread to his brain. After 14 gentle brain radiations at UMC while staying three weeks in palliative care at the Tucson VA he was able to return home and be with Suzanne, four dogs, four birds, fish tanks and a yard full of native wildlife. He died peacefully with the care of his wife, Valor Hospice and Tucson VA/Bayada Home Health Nursing Crew. Per Bill's wishes there is no funeral. His body was donated for research to Anatomic Gift Foundation Inc. Arrangements by ANGEL VALLEY FUNERAL HOME.
Published in Arizona Daily Star on Sep. 30, 2018.