Bill and his sister Marian (my mother) around 1951
My uncle, Bill McDonald, passed away earlier this week. He and my mother were the last of their once large family.
I always considered Bill to be a friend as well as an uncle. Although I did not see Bill too much in recent years, we did talk a few times since I began traveling after Don’s death in September 2008. The last couple of times I saw him, we discussed my travels across Canada and the U.S. Bill would always express some concern about me traveling alone. I was dismissive about the dangers of travel, and soon our talk would turn to the places we had been. We discovered that we had both traveled through many of the same parts of the west, although Bill’s wanderings through California, Nevada and Arizona had been in the late 1950s when he went on an extended road trip. By that time, he had his pilot’s license and rented a plane which he flew over the Grand Canyon.
Bill with his floatplane – c. late 1950s
Today, I decided to write a few lines about my memories of Bill.
One of my earliest is of him flying his floatplane to our cottage on the Ottawa River. I was probably six or seven years old. How well I remember Bill’s small blue and white plane dropping down from the sky and skimming across the water on its pontoons as it taxied into the little nearby bay. Over a couple of days, he came and went as he flew over the river. It was so exciting to watch his plane gain speed and finally lift off into the air. I waved and cheered. It all seemed rather amazing — my uncle flying up into the sky over the river!
My uncle was a very strong, fit man – a lot like my father. I remember him doing a fun trick when he was with some of my cousins and their friends. He would do one-armed push-ups. One was difficult enough, but he could do several in a row. The others tried, but none could replicate this stunt. We were all a little awed.
Bill was always the kind of person who seemed steady as a rock and could make things turn out right. At my dad’s funeral in 1999, he and I, my husband, and my brothers were to be the pall bearers. While we were getting instructions on what to do, there were some awkward moments as the funeral director didn’t seem to think that I should be one of the pall bearers. Bill made a couple of good-natured remarks that managed to defuse the situation.
Bill leaves behind his loving wife, Joanne, as well as his sons, daughters and their children. Also my mother, who has now lost the last of her family.
I know he will be greatly missed by one and all.
Fly on, Bill. Godspeed to you.