Of North Branch
Passed away on December 31, 2018. Preceded in death by parents James & Denise. Survived by wife of 43 years, Annetta; children Christopher (Briana) and Bridgette; grandchildren Billy, Dani, Adi & Cora; brothers Robert (Janice), Steven (Barb), Greg (Brenda) & Tim (Lise). A gathering is planned for Saturday, January 19th from 2:00 pm-5:00 pm with a reading of some of Billâs poetry at 3:00 pm at MUELLER MEMORIAL, 4738 Bald Eagle Avenue, White Bear Lake. Memorials preferred to the family.
Annetta, Chris, Bridgette,
We are absolutely heartbroken at the news of Billâs passing. At a time of heavy sorrow there is little we can say or do to ease your grief. It is a time when we think about all the wonderful qualities that made Bill the unique person that he was. I counted Bill among my very best friends, which there are only a few. A person can have many acquaintances but close friends are typically reserved for a few special people. Bill was certainly special, in many ways.
When Bill learned that I was ill with Stage IV cancer, he was one of the first to come to visit. Not to dole out sympathy but to be his usual entertaining self, cracking jokes, making wagers as to which of us would go âfirstâ, and generally being my friend. He made several trips to Fargo over the past few months for the same purpose. Many of the visits to me were tied to trips he had made to be with you Chris. Little did I know the most recent visit he made to Fargo would be the last time I would see him on this side.
I recall one time many years ago when I was travelling all over the United States working for Joelson Industries, I happened to be working relatively close to home in Minneapolis. I had severe chest pain that landed me in the hospital. We really didnât know what was going on with my heart at the time. Sue was in Fargo and made plans to fly to Minneapolis to be with me while we sorted out what the next step would be. Bill found out what was going on and he dropped everything he was doing and arranged to go to the airport to pick up Sue and bring her to the hospital. I truly donât know of very many people who would do such a thing. But I knew from that moment I could count on Bill whenever I needed him.
He told me many stories when he would be at his local coffee shop shooting the breeze with friends or even strangers. Often it would be a story about how so-and-so was being a pain so Bill was griping about it but sometimes he would learn of someone who was having a tough go of it. Maybe they needed a few bucks to get by or maybe there was another way he could be of help. Most of the time, Bill probably needed the money more than they did, but he would pitch in to help them because that is who he was.
I know how proud he was of both Chris and Bridgette. He may have complained about coming to help you with your house remodeling, Chris, but I believe he secretly was busting his buttons over the task you had undertaken and what a wonderful job you were doing. He often would bring out his phone and start showing me pictures of all the work that had been done. He would always fill me in on whatever new chapter of life Bridgette was undertaking. He was so happy for you being hired into your new position. Very recently Bill called to shoot the breeze and he explained he was with you, Annetta, at a craft show where you were selling your jewelry. He made a point to let us know how well it was going for you.
He was also proud of all his family members who were part of the medical community. I once needed a minor surgical procedure on my chest and it turned out Billâs uncle Jack was going to be the surgeon. When Bill found out about that, his comment was, âOh you mean Uncle Shaky!â That was very typical of his crazy sense of humor.
I was always envious of Billâs ability to work with his hands. I think he may have gotten that talent from his dad. But he had so many other talents: photography, reading, writing, among other things. He was a deep thinker but he never appeared to want to draw attention to any of that. Bill was just Bill. Ready with a smart remark or goofy story but never wanted to be too serious about anything. When he published his book, he let us know but made sure to make it sound like it was âno big thingâ. That was just his way.
Bill would never hesitate to pick up the phone to call just to chat. Sometimes it would be a lengthy discussion about stuff that was currently happening in his life or mine. Sometimes it would be a âcomparisonâ call as to which one of us had the worst symptoms at that particular moment. Sometimes it would be just a quick âHi, how are you doing. I was thinking about you.â I was happy to hear from him, no matter what the reason was.
I always counted on Bill as my good friend. I am so sorry that I wonât be able to reciprocate by physically being there for all of you during this hard time. But I am only a phone call away if you ever want to just talk. No matter what time of the day or night â and I mean that sincerely. Sue and I want you to know we loved him as the good hearted man that he was and, by extension, we love all of you. We are so very sorry for your loss. Please accept our deepest condolences.
Love and hugs,
Mike and Sue
From Billâs book:
When The Voices Spoke This Is What They Said
By William J. Leigh
When I hear the birds no more
Nor feel the wind upon my face
Or taste sweet nectar fresh
Or see the beauty of the dayâ¦
Remember them for me
My Voice will be the bird
My touch will be the wind
My taste the honey of Life
See me in the smiles
The good times I left behind.