Bill McGrath was an inspiration to many over the years. His story-telling ability often put people at ease and he warmed their hearts with his casual demeanour and positive outlook.
He was always willing to share a tale about his many adventures, whether hunting or travelling the countryside. He always had a knack for remembering friendly faces in the community, often visiting, and willing to lend a helping hand.
Some remember Bill for his years of service with DHL, others for his volunteering with 4H. He was never an idle man, and some had the pleasure of sampling his homemade baking, or admiring the vibrant geraniums he had nurtured through many winters.
He was always incredibly proud of his children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. For a man born in 1932, he had 89 years of experience and an undeniable ability to carry on. To be frank, I think his energy just made everyone else envious.
For us he not only provided newspaper delivery, but offered friendly encouragement or even a giggle to lighten the atmosphere.
Publisher, Sue Chikie, said that Bill came to the Vermilion Voice as a delivery person to all the rural communities we distribute to, and he would always deliver the papers on time whether there was snow, sleet or hail. Over the years he has been a great support for the Voice, suggesting stories for us to follow up on, or making suggestions to make things work smoothly with deliveries. We loved to hear his stories of fishing and hunting and all the other things Bill did.
“Bill has always been a member of our family at the Voice, and we have all loved him and will truly miss him.” said Sue.
Editor, Lorna Hamilton, met Bill almost eight years ago when she started working at the Voice. She was amazed that a man of Bill’s age (80 at the time) was still out driving all over the County delivering papers. She remembers having many conversations with Bill about how fit he was and how she respected the fact that he was so active! They often talked of his travels and he told her stories of when he was a driver in his career driving in all sorts of weather conditions. She remembers days Bill would still go out to deliver the paper even when the weather wasn’t optimal and the roads were not at their greatest, (she wasn’t doing her route because she was to chicken to go until the roads became better). Bill was definitely an early riser, and she remembers so many times he was at the office before her, and she said that she would try to beat him there so her and Jason (her husband) could help him load the papers into his vehicle, but low and behold those days were few and far between because Bill was already there and gone. Days that she did get there before him to help him load, he always stayed to help her load hers before he left.
She says Bill was a man filled with compassion for others and spoke of the time she was really sick with a cold or flu and Bill brought her his famous Garlic soup to cure her all up. She laughs and said that she wasn’t sure if Bill was trying to kill the bug or her because that soup could take the hair off a grown man it was so strong! But Bill was adamant that it would knock that bug right out of her. She remembers all the times' Bill was concerned for her or a member of her family if he knew they were under the weather and would never go without asking if they were okay, and always hugged you when he knew you were sad or going through something. She said Bill was sometimes a man of few words, but you never had to doubt his compassion for others.
Lorna also remembers how meticulous Bill was about his appearance! When Bill discovered that Lorna was also a hairstylist she knew she would be getting a phone call every four weeks like clockwork, and if she couldn’t make it for whatever reason he said no worries and would be off to get it done. Jason always went with Lorna to cut Bill’s hair and she believes Bill really enjoyed the male company as after each cut Bill wasn’t letting them go until you had a cup of tea or coffee along with some of the baked goods he had made, and a chat.
There are so many conversations had and many that will now be missed, she says that Bill's passing has left an emptiness in the Vermilion Voice team that will last a very long time.
Graphic Designer, Amr Rezk, met Bill almost five years ago when he started working at the Voice.
“He was a pleasant man, always smiling and cheery. He would stop at the office around noon after delivering the paper and have a friendly chat. It was the highlight of my Tuesday when he came in for our weekly chat.” said Amr.
“I remember one time when it was a very cold day and he asked for the temperature and I answered him and he followed with “is that Celsius or Fahrenheit?” then proceeded to tell me how Celsius still confuses him since he grew up during the times when Canada was still using the imperial system and he still uses Fahrenheit and the only thing he remembers is that -40 Celsius is the same in Fahrenheit. It was always endearing to hear his stories when he stopped by.” added Amr.
“Another memory I have is when Bill came to the office a couple of years ago on a Tuesday and mentioned that it was his birthday. We wished him a happy birthday and we invited him to go with us to lunch and we went and had lunch that day, and he told us many of his hunting and fishing stories. It was always a pleasure to talk to him and he will be dearly missed.” said Amr.
Angela Mouly said it was easy to see Bill’s appreciation for others in the community and as a past reporter, she was grateful that he was always willing to help come up with story ideas. Whether it was time spent in the office, at his home or even on the phone checking in, her favourite thing about Bill was his ability to always brighten her day. Touring the area, learning all of his recommended points of interest was definitely a highlight because it came with the same genuine zest for life that he shared with everyone every day.
“As for me I simply wish I could give my friend one more gentle hug,” said Angela.
“You will be dearly missed by a multitude of friends, and we send sincere condolences to your family. Your life and the way in which you carried yourself is something we can all admire.”