The following was a eulogy I read at a Celebration of Life service for a man who was like a second father to me. Bill passed away in May at the age of 83. I will miss him and never forget him.
I was blessed in that I had two sets of parents: My own and two others—Bill and June—who adopted me as what June calls “their pseudo son.” They accepted me as one of their own and I got to do a lot of good stuff, from watching weekly episodes or MASH and Monty Python to food and drinks. Because of Bill’s generosity, I got to go on fishing trips, golf outings, wild game dinners, ball games and more, mostly on his dime (but maybe a few on Joe Aristio’s). In any case I was able to experience many wonderful things I could not have done otherwise. In a lot of ways Bill was a greater influence on me than my father in that he taught me about hunting and fishing and canoeing and swimming and flying and more. I developed a love of nature from Bill. And odds are I would not have become an Eagle Scout if not for that man. I learned a lot of other things from Bill:
- I learned not to sit directly behind him in a moving automobile when he was chewing tobacco with the windows down because the juice goes out the front window and comes right back in the rear window.
- I learned if you ever wanted an answer to any question to go to Bill. He always had one. It might not be the right answer but he had an answer. And he’d throw in an opinion or two free of charge and some advice from “Never sell your soul for two weeks of vacation” to “Them that don’t pay rent gotta get.” (Come see me later and pull my finger, and I’ll explain.)
- I learned that you always want to beat traffic and leave early no matter how exciting the event or how beautiful the day. I think the only way I saw the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds perform the climax of an airshow was with my head sticking out the window looking up as we were driving home.
Yeah, he was opinionated, pigheaded, and obstinate, and he could rub people the wrong way. He sometimes even went as far as breaking relationships; however, he was also blessed in that he was given some extra time on this earth and he managed to repair a few of those. We may not be as lucky. Maybe the best lesson there is not to break them in the first place.
He’s gone but I don’t think anyone here will soon forget him. I’m richer because I knew him as a father, as a mentor, and as a friend.
Many of you here knew Fred Vogt who was a character in his own right. When Fred died Bill said that after God made Fred Vogt he broke the mold. That his kind would never pass this way again. I believe we can all say the same thing about Bill Stickney. He was one of those larger-than-life personalities and when God made Bill Stickney, he broke the mold there too.
To his grandkids and great-grandkids and nephews and nieces, I want to issue a challenge. You have some of Bill’s genes in you, his blood and maybe a little of his tobacco juice coursing through your veins. Maybe you can be next defying convention and be a one-of-a-kind, God-broke-the-mold kind of a person. But most importantly, maybe you can be next to share your wisdom, your wit, your passions and more importantly your time with others, be they friends, family or pseudo family.
That’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.