Bill, our beautiful son, brother, uncle, godfather and friend, closed his sweet eyes one last time, and holding his sister Julie’s hand, slept deeply and crossed over the threshold into Heaven.
A family member was with Bill every day he was at Lone Tree Convalescent Hospital.
As a little boy, Bill’s parents, William and Shirley Winthrop, called him “Working Bill,” because he was always busy. He sold flower seeds in the neighborhood to earn a camera. He was reading National Geographic Society magazine when he was 5 — he pronounced it “Geogropic Sockity,” but he knew what he was reading. He loved the photographs and wanted to take pictures.
He had a paper route and saved most of the money to buy his first car, a little gray Toyota. He sold enough new starts to the Antioch Ledger to win a trip to Disneyland. He played trombone in fourth through 12th grade and on into Diablo Valley College. He was in the gifted program.
He sang the lead in “Oliver” and a lead in “The Music Man.” He knew the lyrics from most of the songs from the ’70s. He loved going to concerts, especially at the Oakland Coliseum, and had a huge tape, CD and Rolling Stone magazine collection.
Bill was an altar boy, a lector and an usher at Immaculate Heart Church. He and his brother, David, served Mass on Christmas Eve, Easter, Good Friday and many, many Sundays.
He was a Boy Scout and a Y Indian Guide. Bill and his mother walked many miles every week on the Marsh Creek Trail, with other family members sometimes accompanying them. Yosemite was his favorite place for hiking and swimming – he and his family spent the first week after school at Yosemite every year until he was 18.
He loved summer vacations in Missouri with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, fishing and swimming in Salt River at the Lillis farm and Uncle Danny’s farm.
He liked eating dinner at noon. Cards? It was hard to beat Bill. He knew which cards had been played and which cards were still in the deck! He enjoyed the grandchildren’s antics and stories.
Bill worked in the corn for the Stonebargers; at Best Buy in Pleasant Hill; for the school district in the summer, painting, repairing roofs, cleaning and more.
He traveled to Ireland, England, Mexico, Canada and many of the states. He and Aunt Bernadine had a hilarious moment on a bus in Ireland, one of many! Bill was a loyal friend and spoke often of his affection for Jerry, Ron, Adrian, Chris, Keith and Dennis.
Bill and Keith shared a love for Star Trek and Star Trek conventions.
Suddenly, out of the blue, in his late teens, Bill was struck by a terrible, debilitating disease: schizophrenia. People he had thought of as friends closed their doors in his face, told him to go home and never come back, even after he was on medication. They broke his heart, but he never had a bad word to say about them.
He said, “They didn’t mean to hurt me.”
They did, though, carelessly, cruelly, shamefully and needlessly.
Bill was an outgoing, funny, smart, interesting child. He had a beautiful soul. He was terribly lonely the rest of his life. Fortunately, he had a loving family, who stood by him for the rest of his life and who never let him forget how much he meant to us.
He leaves behind his broken hearted family who mourn him and the life he might have had.
Thank you, David, Jodie, Morgan, Paige and Jon, Mark, Julie, Sal, Joseph, Marisa, Wendy, Gladys, Bernadine, Dan, Sue, Joe, Jane, Tony and Vera. We also thank Walter Gorsky, Andrew Smith, Deborah Tyler and the Lone Tree Convalescent Hospital for the last few months and everyone who helped make Bill’s life a little happier.
A memorial mass will be held for Bill at IHM Church, Aug. 28 at 5 p.m.