"How are all my friends?" was Billy's signature greeting to everyone as he walked into the office each morning. Billy passed away earlier this year. We sure will miss him. I feel like it is an end of an era for many of us here. Billy's brother, Punkey, passed in 2010. Many of the managers here started back in the '70s and 80's; it feels a little weird working without the generation that began with our founders. The torch and ownership of Valley View Farms passed to Billy's son Andy a few years ago.
|Andy and Billy among our farm greenhouse poinsettias|
My memories of Billy are of a man who maintained extraordinary relationships with his staff and with growers and other vendors.
|Store manager Tim, business associate Bruce, and Billy|
|Nora and Billy during our WBAL broadcast|
|Billy and Bob at the WBAL Kids Campaign broadcast|
|At home in his garden, Billy taught all of us about gardening successfully|
|Billy's wife Kay and daughter Lisa|
Billy had recently renovated the farmhouse he lived in with his wife, Kay.
|Billy used his electric cart to carry the harvest from his garden back to his house|
|Kay and Billy|
|Billy last October with one of the big pumpkins|
|Tom T and Billy pose in front of the big pumpkins|
|Billy with his friend, Dyson|
For me, Billy was the guy I talked to about current events. We usually met on Sunday mornings in his office to catch up. He genuinely listened to others opinion's before contributing his own. I think I'll miss those mornings most of all.
Billy loved his "people". During MANTS, a regional trade show, he would catch up with many of VVF's growers and suppliers. Instead of walking the trade show floor, Billy invited everyone to lunch in the adjoining hotel, or, if time permitted, for a beverage once the show closed for the day. At an international show in Ohio which Billy attended for decades, he'd do the same, catching up with old friends and making new bonds with business people from the horticultural world.
On a more personal note, I've lived near Billy for the last 20 years or so. He didn't stop by often, but did now and then, meeting my family and a few close friends. Billy supplied me with firewood that he cut and stacked himself. When I was out after a total knee replacement, Billy stopped by with home made soup. He's just that kind of guy.
|Scott, Billy and John|
|Grandson Will, son Stuart, Billy and Vernon|
Once he crosses into the pearly gates, I can picture Billy once again saying "How are all my friends?" as he reunites with those who passed before him.
We'll miss you, Billy.