He Belongs To The World
by Jeff McSweeney
Born in Zanesville, Ohio he moved to the north side of Peoria area as a young child then to the Heights. He entered the Marine Corps at 17 and served for twenty years attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. While in the Corps his career mostly focused on Supply & Maintenance roles but included a world tour on a cruiser as a 20mm gunner, a stint as a hill patroller and guard duty in Korea. He ended his career at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
While in service he met his wife, Deb, who was his boss’s secretary. They began dating, which earned him double duty, “But it was well worth it,” says Bill. They have three children, Bill Jr., James and Patricia as well as four grandchildren.
After the service he returned to Central Illinois and promised his wife they would move to South Carolina that he grew to love during his time at Parris Island. However, “I came back here got into debt and couldn’t leave. Caroline tolerates staying in Central Illinois” laughs Bill.
Upon his return Bill started a twenty-year career in the Sears Automotive Department.
In the 1970’s he joined the Peoria Color Camera Club, now the Peoria Camera Club. He found a passion for landscapes and some portraiture which has evolved to children with the addition of his grandchildren. He has served many roles including The Heart of Illinois Fair photo chairman for over 30 years and judging coordinator for each of the club’s meetings and reviews.
After he retired from Sears he began volunteering at Wildlife Prairie Park in 2010, “The most fun job I’ve ever had.” Even though he prefers woodworking he has been key in renovating the red cabooses, reconditioning antique farm equipment, general maintenance and his current project of updating and refurbishing the train cars that tour guests throughout the park. You will also see Bill parking cars at events and directing traffic. “My military MOS, Military Occupation Specialties, said I could do anything and that is what I do here,” says Bill. “I enjoy working with all the talented volunteers including retired engineers and architects that expand my knowledge.”
Outside of Wildlife Prairie Park Bill is Council President at Immanuel Lutheran Church.