Big loss for Port Aransas
I came up virtually empty-handed.
There's a reason for that.
As colorful a character as Bill was, he was not one who sought out credit or glory.
Bill's late wife, Barbara, a colorful character in her own right, was the "front man" on their team, although she wasn't in it for the glory or the fame either.
They both wanted what was best for their community. Bill worked the background, usually signing checks. Barbara was up front making sure everyone else did his or her part.
I've told this story more than once, and I'll probably tell it many more times. It's about the first time I met Bill.
It was at a city council meeting in the early 1980s. A heated debate about whether to raise the hotelmotel tax was in full swing. The city's portion of that tax can be used only for specific purposes, most related to tourism.
One man came to the front to speak. He had jet-black hair streaked with gray, and bushy, protruding eyebrows. He was of strong build and you couldn't say he was tall, but the force of his personality was unquestionable.
In a distinct Southern drawl, this man proceeded to tell the council in no uncertain terms that the tax needed to be increased and used to advertise Port Aransas. Tourism, he said, was the backbone of the city's economy, and that to increase tourism, advertising dollars needed to be spent.
"I don't know who this man is," I thought, "but I like the way he thinks!"
Further debate followed, and the council took a break.
In the hallway, people who had gone head-tohead in the debate were planning to get together for a drink after the meeting (that in itself was amazing in my experience - enemies weren't supposed to talk to each other, much less fraternize over drinks). In the course of those plans, someone introduced me to Bill.
"What's a girl like you doing in a nice place like this?" he asked. Then he gave me a big ol' hug.
I've loved him ever since.
Bill and Barbara were long-time owners of Fisherman's Wharf and benefactors to many Port Aransas youth, civic and non-profit groups. Barbara was named Citizen of the Year in 1998. She was certainly a deserving recipient, but she could not have done all she did without Bill's support.
The community lost its premiere advocate when Barbara died in 2003. Now we've lost one of our staunchest supporters.
Bill may not be with us physically, but for me, he'll live on forever in my heart, as does Barbara.