Don't Rush Me
Bill was a unique kinda' guy
Rest in peace Mr. Ardelan
November 02, 2011 - This weekend whilst on the road (Michigan Highway 52) between the towns Owosso and St. Charles, I received a cell phone call.
It was a busy weekend as son Sean and I were on a big adventure. We pointed the car in one direction and drove. Back to the phone call.
A co-worker informed me that another former co-worker, Bill Ardelan, had died. Hmm . . .
Bill and I sat next to each other in our respective desks at The Oxford Leader newspaper from 1989 when I was named Assistant Publisher of Sherman Publications and Bill was named Creative Director.
Both were new positions created by then publisher Jim Sherman, Sr., I am sure to keep both Bill and I happy.
I sat next to Bill and learned from him until he retired somewhere near the turn of the century.
Bill was a unique kind of guy, not an angel, but unique.
Don't know if he liked me, but I liked Bill.
He was 30 years older than me, and that was a lot back before I was even 30 myself. But I liked him.
I listened to his stories of growing up in Pontiac. I listened to the stories of his family -- his father died when Bill was young so he was raised by his mother. He was one of 10 kids! He liked baseball.
I listened to his stories of being in the United States Army and working for The Pontiac Press, before working for us at Sherman Publications.
I remember Bill perusing the classifieds for bargains, buying the item and reselling it for a profit.
I remember him hand drawing out "spec" layouts for L/S Family Foods. No small feat, because that ad was a center-spread ad with tons of items.
Bill had neat hand writing, which I always marveled at because mine is so, well . . . not neat. (I like to call it Don's Shorthand. I really can't read it either, but what I can read, usually causes a chemical reaction inside my brain and instead of reading, I remember what I had written on the paper.)
Back to Bill.
He was super creative.
Bill could draw. He could paint. He could work wood. He played the trumpet, piano and when last I heard was teaching himself to play the guitar. One of the things I remember about Bill was his pinky-ring.
When he and his band were playing a gig, he always wore a pinky ring. I had never actually seen a real-live person wear a pinky ring -- only on TV. But, Bill was able to rock the ring and not look silly.
Bill smiled a lot and laughed a lot. He like to come in and small-talk with our pressman Larry "Whitey" Hauxwell.
What was really amazing about Bill, was while he smiled lots, laughed lots, was in a band, selling ads meeting with people and making deals, inside he was afraid.
Despite his fear of being in the public, he was to the world around him, outgoing.
He talked to me quite a bit about his fear, about how sometimes he didn't even want to leave his home or go to the grocery store.
But he did.
The last time I saw Bill was (I believe) in 2010.
He and his lovely bride, Joyce, were back up from Florida and visiting Bill's older sister at Lourdes Nursing Home in Waterford -- the same place my Grandmother Rush was living and I was visiting.
Bill looked older, grayer, thinner. He was on crutches because some "#@%$!" doctors in Florida had misdiagnosed something and, well a sore on his foot turned into something more.
But, he still managed to smile. He asked about my sons Shamus and Sean. He asked if they played baseball.
And, he smiled. Despite everything Bill always managed a smile in public -- well most of the time.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org