Former Methow Valley News editor John Hanron penned the following tribute in his occasional column “Through My Lens” to his longtime friend, Bill Biddle, upon Mr. Biddle’s passing. It was published in the June 13, 2012 issue.
Through my Lens
By John Hanron
Bill Biddle has become the weather he watched
For most of his life, Bill Biddle was fascinated by the weather; now he gets to be the weather.
Unchained from his earthly bonds, Bill Biddle – husband, father, grandfather, friend, teacher, lifelong student, outdoorsman, adventurer, amateur meteorologist, poet, romantic and lover of life – is free to explore the heavens themselves, to be the clouds that fascinated him so.
It is simply the next leg on his fascinating journey, and if his worldly personality transcends his body, then the clouds and everything else in the ethereal world just got a new best friend.
That’s how Bill made you feel: like his best friend. And the amazing thing was, it was genuine. He cared for the people he encountered, blessing them with his unwavering attention and asking questions because he really was interested in what they were saying.
His hunger for knowledge was insatiable. He surrounded himself with books and magazines and I do not doubt that he read them all at least once. At his Wolf Creek home, his office is filled with books, his basement is filled with books, his cars are filled with books. And that was just his part-time residence.
He celebrated all of life’s facets. A diehard outdoorsman, Bill was teaching Nordic skiing at Snoqualmie Summit until just a few years ago – well into his 70s – when a stubborn foot injury kept him off the boards. There is almost as much camping, skiing, climbing and canoeing gear as there are books in his basement – almost.
But the most amazing thing about Bill Biddle was what can only be described as infectious enthusiasm for life. Uplifting and inspiring, when Bill walked into a room it was often as if the clouds parted and the sun suddenly appeared. You could feel the room expand, and along with it, the spirits of the people in it. Bill made you feel good.
Huge cumulonimbus clouds awed him and so did tiny spring beauties. The last few times I visited with him in Seattle, I would bring in a single flower blossom plucked from a bush or flowerbed nearby, knowing that he would see the incredible, infinite beauty within each tiny flower. He did and would immediately call for water in which to put the single blossom. He was that way.
He appreciated quality: good single-malt whisky, classic cars, beautiful and capable women, double-bit axes and epic poetry. Biddle’s favorite poet, Lord Byron, put words to the transition in which we now find ourselves, in the poem, “We’ll Go No More A-roving.”
So, we’ll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have a rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.
“You know,” said Bill in a personality piece written about him in the Seattle Times in 1997, “the weather is a lot like our lives. There is spring, our birth; the summer, where our lives flower; the fall, as we grow old; and winter, death,” he said. “I firmly believe each one of us has a super summer before the fall. And we should live it. These moments – this moment right now – will never happen again.”
I raise my glass of scotch to the sky and feel him on the wind.