Obituary of William Alexander Thatcher
Good Morning. My name is Ron Watteyne and I’m Carol’s brother, I’ve been asked to speak about Bill.
Bill Thatcher was born on Jan 8th, 1941 to Len and Bunty Thatcher at Zebellas on the north end of Vancouver Island.
Bill is survived by his sisters, Bea & Joan and brothers, Donny, Leonard and David.
Bill was a caring, and loving father to his children: Sons, Buddy & Cory, daughters Julie, Tracey, Heidi,
His 8 Grandchildren, Liam, Kelli, Annie, Ashlee, Robert, Dan, Ashley, and Travis, and his 4 Great- grandchildren, Ivy, Olivia, Craig and Benjamin.
In his memoirs, he spoke of his love for his children, `quote: of whom I love dearly`` and dedicated his memoirs to them.
Bill is survived by his loving and devoted wife Carol, who has been by his side through all the ups and downs of his illness.
This next bit of information was taken from Bill`s memoirs, which he began writing in 2004, telling tales of his life and adventures. Sadly, he never finished them.
From Zebellas, his family moved to Victoria, before moving to Chief Lake, 25 miles NW of Prince George.
His Dad purchased 360 acres on the lake and operated a sawmill. For several winters, Bills dad Len, worked away from home. His mom raised 6 kids, Bill being the oldest, as well as looking after 2 horses, chickens and several goats throughout the winter. We’ll get back to the goats later.....
Even then he was a prankster, much to the detriment of his siblings. He told of stories of his brother’s tongue being stuck to the axe blade, his brother being locked in a trunk for a day, screaming for help, while Bill weeded in the garden.
One winter day, Bill and his brother Donnie, took the horses out onto the ice and chopped a hole for them to drink. On returning to the shore he got too close to the wharf and fell in, but had the presence of mind to hold onto the horses halter. The horse raised up its head and slowly backed away, and pulled Bill out of the hole.
Bill grew up having to make his own entertainment as they had no power, no TV, no phone, Nintendo, running water, and no radio. His mom had an old gramophone, and a battery operated radio, used only occasionally, as they seldom had batteries. This must have given him the time to think up all kinds of ways to get in trouble.
Bill had to walk 2 and ½ miles to school and if he was relating this story, it would have been uphill both ways! There were no ball point pens in school, they had ink wells. The ink wells would freeze at night, so they had to thaw them out on the stove in the morning. Bill thought it would be a good idea to tighten the lids on 3 of the ink wells before putting them on the stove. Yes.......WAIT FOR IT........ the ink wells exploded and made a HUGE mess.
Bill spent 35 plus years working for the Ministry of Highways. The time Bill spent in Wells, he rebuilt sections of Hwy 26, most notably the section from Stanley through Devils canyon. In speaking with long time friend Don Robertson, he said Bill, as a foreman, had an uncanny way of dealing with people to get things done. Everybody liked Bill as a boss. He told the story of Bill plowing snow in the maintenance yard, hitting the boss’s truck and rolling it over. The worst part was that his boss was still in the truck!
Don also told the story of Bill operating the grader and at the end of his shift. He parked it inside the maintenance shed and realized that he hadn’t topped up the fuel. Rather than drive it out to the pumps, he thought he would check the fuel level using a flashlight. Not finding a flashlight, and as a smoker, he always had a lighter............ he opened lid on the fuel tank, flicked the lighter, and whoosh, a 4’ flame shot out and singed his eyebrows and burnt his hair.
When the family lived in Wells, there were many weekends in the summer spent at one of Bill`s favorite places, Bowron Lake. Bill fell in love with the Bowrons, after paddling the circuit many years ago. This is where Bill, Carol, family and friends spent many weekends camping and fishing. Bill always talked about the big one that got away. There was also time for skiing, and hunting. In his later years, Bill would trade in his rifle for a camera to shoot animals.
Ken Onciul related a story
On a camping trip to Lac La Hache Bill and Ken have to bet about fishing, which is usually for first fish or the biggest. This bet was for the biggest and the bet $20. So off they go fishing together and as luck would have it Bill got the first fish which was about 5lbs. When Ken got his fish it didn't quite look as big as Bills. Well this made Bill very happy and when they got back to shore, Bill was as giddy as a school girl and roared up to camp to weigh his fish, well maybe not roared but went as fast as he could and well we all know how fast that would be. Anyways Ken took his time securing the boat and stuffed a few rocks into the fish by poking them down to the belly with a stick just to add a few ounces and guarantee his win and to see Bill pout. Oh yes and to get Bill's money but mostly to watch him pout. So for three weeks at work Ken would brag about his fish and Bill stewed over loosing the bet before he gave Bill his $20 back and told him what he did. Bill was so happy to get is $20 back he didn't even think about collecting Ken's $20 for loosing.
During his time in Wells, Bill was a member of the Wells Legion and the Wells Fire dept. They didn’t put out a lot of fires, but they did do a lot of drinking, especially Bill`s favorite drink, scotch.
During his time in Bella Coola, he completely rebuilt the road down into the valley, known as the Freedom Highway. When returning home from a family outing, they arrived at the top of the hill, when the fan belt broke on the car. The 10 ‘ snow banks did not deter Bill, as he fashioned a fan belt out of a pair of pantyhose and was able to limp the car back to town.
Bill was thrilled to be able to go on a weeklong horseback riding trip into the Rainbows with the 4 Dorsey brothers. A trip that he has wonderful memories of, and spoke about for many years.
After his move to Quesnel, Bill worked on paving and upgrading the Nazko highway and could be seen on weekends playing baseball at the ball diamonds in Nazko.
He would embellish stories to his kids, confounding them as to whether or not the story was true or false. Buddy remembers Bill telling the story of the time the catholic priest came to the schoolhouse just after Bill had shot his brother in the cheek with a bow and arrow. The priest`s response was ‘get that devil child out of here while I`m teaching! ` True???...only Bill knows.
Bill loved to travel all over BC, and once, did a 4 week trip to Alaska with Cory and Carol. Cory tells the story of travelling 5 thousand miles listening the whole way to the only CD they had, Ian Tyson. Bill loved his country and western music.
Bill spent some time cooking and discovered the joys of the rotisserie. He was certain it was pronounced rot-es-aire and was obsessed with cooking with it. He started inviting friends over to enjoy his meals, and I’m sure Carol was sick and tired of eating his rot-es-aire meats.
His friend Alysa tells the story:
Over the last few years, I spent several weekends caring for Bill while Carol was out of town. One weekend in particular was one that I will never forget.
I had arrived at Bill and Carol’s house on a Friday night, to find Bill settled in his usual spot in the corner of the couch. I settled in my spot in the recliner across from Bill, and together we watched TV and chatted about life. At some point, Bill turned the conversation to the topic of hot peppers and asked if I liked them. I told him yes, I enjoyed eating them every now and then. Bill replied with “Well! You HAVE to try these peppers I have in the fridge then! You’ll never taste a hotter pepper!” I reluctantly made my way to the kitchen, wondering what I had gotten myself into. Bill proceeded to pick the peppers from the jar with his bare hand… one for me, and one for him. Sure enough, those peppers were no joke. Not only were our taste buds on fire, but Bill had also began to rub his eye with the hand he used to grab the peppers. Somehow, within the span of 5 minutes, we had gone from watching an episode of Alaskan Bush People to making a desperate attempt at flushing his burning eyeball with warm water and a clean turkey baster. Bill’s eye was fine, and we laughed hysterically when everything was all said and done.
Bill loved his family and friends. He was mild mannered and easy going. He had a great memory of events that happened and could recall people’s names and places to relate a good tale.
Ben & Tracy said that:
When we moved into our home, we would often see Bill driving slowly through the neighbourhood surveying the street as “Mayor of Dennis Road” with his beloved dog in the passenger seat. As the years went by and Bill graduated to his motorized scooter it opened up his world in a whole new way. He was now able to stealthily move through the neighbourhood, often popping up on our property like royalty in his carriage. Sometimes if we weren’t outside he would come up our driveway and head straight to the back yard, maybe picking some raspberries along the way. He would come around the back of our house to the deck side and holler “HELLO! HELLO!” and it was always an entertaining visit. Bill’s ease of conversation and storytelling abilities always made for a wonderful laughter filled visit, which we will miss. Dennis Road will never be the same.
He loved to play practical jokes on his friends. He would lie awake at night and think of things he could do.
Linda tells the story of the time Bill called her and asked if she wanted a salmon. She said she would love one. So the next day she arrives home to a package laying on the porch in the sunshine. She`s thinking a bouquet of flowers has arrived for her. Well it had a bouquet....... a smelly one....it was an old freezer burnt salmon, melting in the sun....and to think Bill had to drive past the garbage dump to get to her house!! He phoned her the next day and asked her if she enjoyed the salmon.
But you were never allowed to play a joke on him!!! He would pout for days if you ever got one over on him.
And now,,, back to those goats.
A few years ago, while Carol and Bill were on holidays, some of us were gathered at Linda`s place and the idea came up for a practical joke to play on Bill. Not to mention any names, but Todd thought it would be a good idea to place an ad in the Bargain Hunter, for Free Goats. Call 747-3154, which of course is Bill`s number. When he arrived home, the answering machine was completely full of messages from the Indo Canadian community, saying “You have free goat??” And the messages kept on coming for weeks. Well, everyone got blamed on that one,,,,, to name a few....Don, Ken, Bea, Linda, ...and we embellished on that for years to come. Bill got goat cheese, goat soap, stuffed goats, and goat books. Funny stories were written about Bill and his goats. We’ll have some of those on display at the luncheon.
And someone even hung a sign on the house.
(SHOW Goat Crossing Sign)
Bill was a wonderful husband, a loving father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, uncle and a great friend. Bill had a huge personality, a great laugh, and awesome sense of humor. We all will remember him for that. He will be missed.
It’s not goodbye, It’s see you later
Carol would like to thank everyone who supported the family through these difficult times. Your actions, kind words and prayers have given us the strength to make it through this.
With great sadness, the family of William Thatcher announce his passing on February 4th at Dunrovin Hospice House.
A Memorial Service for Bill will be held on Wednesday, February 7th at 10:00 am at the Claytons Event Hall, with a Memorial Tea to follow at the Billy Barker Showroom.
Those wishing to honour Bill's memory by way of donation may do so to the Quesnel & District Hospice Palliative Care association or to the Kidney Foundation.
Bill will be lovingly remembered by his Loving Wife, Carol
Children: Buddy (Monica), Julie, Tracey (Kelly), Heidi, Cory
Grandchildren: Liam, Kelli, Annie, Ashlee, Robert, Dan, Ashley, Travis
Great Grandchildren: Ivy, Craig, Olivia, Benjamin
Siblings: Don, Leonard (Diane), Joan, Bea, David (Sam)
As well as many other extended family members and dear friends.
Bill was predeceaseed by his parents, Len & Bunty