I was deeply saddened when Bill told me a month ago that the cancer that had deviled him periodically over the years, which he'd kept at bay, had returned with a vengeance -- attacking his brain and spine. He faced this vicious disease with his customary optimism and courage, placing faith in himself, his doctors and God. Powerful combination, and I admired his positiveness and dignity, but this time the adversary was too tough.
(Pictured: Photo: That's Bill in the middle. Al Cummings (KING, KOL, KVI) is on the left, and Frosty Fowler (KING, KING TV) is on the right. Photo courtesy of Bill Taylor.)
Bill and I first became friends in 1967 when he was a seasoned presence at KIXI and I was new guy in the news department at KOL. A former denizen of Harbor Island, "Wip" and the late Martin Tobin were colleagues at KOL when Wally Nelskog recruited them as a team to head up the news operation at the newly launched KIXI. The lustrous-voiced Bill Wippel and the stentorian Martin Tobin comprised one of the market's really solid news operations.
Post-KIXI, Bill, of course, was named news director at KIRO radio when the station kicked off its all-news operation in 1975.
There were some ups and downs for him after that, but we always kept in touch with each other, and in 1989, I hired Wip as a session broadcast information officer in the House Republican Communications shop. He worked three legislative sessions with me, commuting to Olympia from his residence in Normandy Park. I was doing both print and broadcast projects, and it was a pleasure to have Bill on the team to help shoulder the workload. (His voicers gave our shop some extra pop and panache, as you can imagine.) Bill's patience, infectious good humor, courtly manners, and easy-going nature made him a favorite among caucus staff and legislators alike.
When he decided to forgo another session with us in Olympia, Bill relied on part-time radio gigs and free-lance projects while he searched -- ardently -- for a full-time gig. Every week he'd send me a letter, not an e-mail, describing the job search: where he'd applied, who he'd talked to, what looked promising, what did not. It was a rough time for him, and at times deflating, but he was persistent. At the end of every letter, he wrote: The job is on the way, the Lord is never late. That attitude reflected not only his unshakable faith, but his enduring sense of optimism about life.
Ultimately his perseverance was rewarded, and the ideal job came along -- that of community relations director for Seattle's Union Gospel Mission -- where his faith and his considerable communications skills dovetailed perfectly.
(Above) is the last photo I have of Bill, which I took when he, Frosty Fowler, Al Cummings and I got together for lunch a few years ago. Bill's ever-ready smile radiates the sincerity and good heart of a loyal friend, a genuinely warm and caring human being, a talented and gracious gentleman. I will miss him very much.