By Jody Woltman
I was deeply saddened to learn that Bill Beard died on Friday, January 24, 2014. I spent the day on Saturday thinking of how Bill impacted my life and I have to pen a few comments about him. Not as brilliantly or poetic as he would, mind you, but words dedicated to him.
I met Bill in the spring of 2010 when I moved to Cass County to begin my life as Publisher of the Cass County Star-Gazette. Bill’s stature and intelligence intimidated me. But I would tease him to avoid in-depth conversations to show my lack of knowledge. I gave him a hard time about his pale yellow hummingbird shirt that he wore with pride. He loved hummingbirds. I teased him about his writer’s vest with pen in pocket, even in the summer. Bill showed his gentle giant side, discussing his love of flowers and birds, his caring for cats and the love he had for his wife Lynne, voice softened while he spoke of her musical abilities and her “singing voice like an angel.”
Bill was a man of many words and deep thought was always apparent. He could make even a short conversation an hour-long discussion. I always knew when he knocked on my door I could expect to be in the office a while, but the visits were always worth it. Whether it was political fodder, a history lesson on the Civil War, or the impact of the great Abraham Lincoln, Bill always taught me something.
Star-Gazette readers may remember his editorial pieces on history or ObamaCare or the ills of our government. Or his collection of WWII stories about local Cass County Vets or his “Cass County in the Civil War” a few years back. Students may recall his lectures as a teacher in area schools. Chandlerville locals will remember his physical presence, seeing him walk around, conversing with anyone at the Chandlerville Burgoo or searching for Morel mushrooms and enjoying his flowers. His lovely wife Lynne, who knew the true Bill Beard, is probably the only person I know that could understand his brilliance and my thoughts and prayers go out to her.
Bill impacted my life in many ways. He will never know what he taught me: the value of investigating, research and editorial style, the purpose behind the pen and the irreplaceable written word. He will never know the great impact he had on my life and the writing mentor he was to me. He had a great mind that will always baffle me and leave me awestruck. How one person could have a picture-perfect memory and vast knowledge about everything, I will never know. But I do know one thing: I will miss him dearly, as many will. Rest in peace, dear friend. Your written words will live on and people will always remember you. We have lost one of the best.
P.S. Bill, I know you would read this and get your editing pen out and point out my errors and that makes me smile!