Bill Whipp (1940-2020)

Bill Whipp, Beacon, New York

Bill passed away April 25​th​ of complications of coronavirus. Just 4 weeks ago he was a strong, vital energetic man with a knowing smile, full of life and emotion, sensitive to the injustices of the world.

Bill was born into a large family of 9 children. Being the youngest he experienced the complex dynamic of family life, and with 3 deaf sisters he began to understand life’s injustices at an early age. He was empathetic as a young person. Family influenced his perspective. He loved people. Bill was a gregarious person. His amused joyful smile reflected that.

As a young man, Bill was anxious and enthusiastic for adventures he’d not been able to experience. He was determined to make things happen, sailing the Caribbean, hiking to the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway, traveling to the Bay area, inspiring his attraction to Northern California.

Bill was also determined to put himself through school. Always working full time, with persistence he eventually graduated from the Univ of Wisconsin with degrees in Speech Communications and Physical Education. He taught in Milwaukee area schools for several years including the Milwaukee public School system. Not stimulated by this environment, his long held dream to go to Australia loomed. With friend David and others, he was hired as a teacher for the teacher shortage there and was soon living and working in Sydney, New South Wales, arguably one of the worlds most beautiful cities. This 3 year experience was exceptional, but family loomed. He returned to Milwaukee to care for ageing parents, until their deaths.

Bill was an admirer of English writer Samuel Johnson, and travelled to England for a long walk through the English countryside, pastures and villages, some haunts of Mr Johnson . He loved this exhilarating experience so much that he got a job in a village pub, lived upstairs and had the most memorable time for almost a year. He never forgot or regretted this experience. He wanted to live life.

Bill eventually moved to San Jose, California, where he lived for years. He opened a coffee shop, among several work ventures. Bill experienced chronic back pain and worked around this disability of degenerating disks by rigorous therapeutic workouts. His Physical Education training was helpful in building strength and somewhat controlling pain.

Eventually Bill moved to the New York area to be near family members after a heart event. Bill’s niece, Suzanne introduced him to many members of the local community as Uncle Bill. He is still fondly known by many as Uncle Bill. He and his partner Dave explored and appreciated the cultural features of Manhattan. He loved NY.

Bill was a giving presence, an uncomplicated man, passionate about the injustices of life. His smile made everything good.

Surely, he would thank the dedicated staff at NY Presbyterian Hudson Valley Peekskill Hospital and his longtime “Guardian Angel” Dr. Cynthia Ligenza and Terry Alexander FNP-C

Bill is survived by David Dickinson of 50 + years.

Bill is also survived by sisters Thelma Kamuchey and Evangeline Norton of California. Sister in law Susan Kamuchey of Fla. Brother in Law Stan Smith. Many nieces and nephews: Suzanne Pearse Dow, Chip Pearse, Cassandra Kamuchey, Dr.Tim Smith, Penny Smith, John Kamuchey, Mary Jill Kamuchey, Jaye Elizabeth Kamuchey, Paul Kamuchey, Dean Kamuchey, Christopher Kamuchey, Andrew Kamuchey, Paul Norton, Peter Norton, Janet Suttles, Jennifer Trio, Robert Poehlman, James Poehlman, including their spouses. Rodney W Dow of Garrison NY, and many great nieces and nephews including Alexandra and Willa Dow also of Garrison, NY.

Printed in The Highlands Current.

Guestbook on the Clinton Funeral Home Cold Spring, NY.

In the days before his death, Bill wrote a letter of thanks to his doctor and medical team. It was published in The Highlands Current.

We all need to be thankful Cold Spring village has Dr. Cynthia Ligenza. Not only is she caring for all of her regular patients who have COVID-19, she is working 12-hour shifts at the hospital caring for patients who are on ventilators. I know for a fact that patients call her in the middle of the night, never thinking this doctor needs rest to be ready to be out there the next day and the day after that.

Her assistant, Terry Alexander, is out there helping as well. Even though people always think that’s the way Dr. Ligenza and Terry should perform their service for us, it is obvious this is putting a strain on these medical providers.

Bill Whipp, Cold Spring (April 21, 2020)


From his sister Thelma:  My favorite memory was when Bill was 4 years old and Christmas was approaching.  Peter  was 8 and I was 10 and we were voicing what we wanted Santa to bring us. We were laughing and enjoying our hopeful wishes, when brother Pete announced that "there wasn’t any Santa Claus and anyone who believed that there was one was just stupid."

 Bill started to cry but I was able to convince him that Santa was real. As Christmas approached, all of us helped with preparing the house by decorating the tree which was placed in front room’s big bay window, the front porch, all the other windows with our homemade decorations. 

The magic night, Christmas Eve finally arrived and the Kamuchey household was very still and quiet as all were asleep.
When the morning light began to stream through the windows Bill and Peter slipped out from their beds and quietly made their way to the living room. 

They found the beautiful Christmas tree exactly where they had left it but as they looked closer, they saw that under the tree it was bare, absolutely bare, not even one present. 

Peter immediately said to Bill “see I told you there wasn’t any Santa Claus, there isn’t anything here." 

All this commotion woke me up and I too made my way to the living room. There they were the two of them, Peter repeating to Bill about there being no Santa and Bill crying. 

Then a loud noise was heard and a “HO, HO, HO” coming from upstairs and the door was opened and there stood a big, round Santa* in his red suit, whiskers and a large bag slung over his shoulder. Bill stopped crying, Peter’s mouth dropped open and Santa started to put our presents under the tree. 

Sweet Bill’s eyes were shining like diamonds and he said “See I knew there was a Santa Claus”. 

*The "Santa" was our sister Evelyn, who had dressed up as Santa Claus and picked up the presents under the tree to hand them out.  She wanted to give her younger siblings a few more years of magic. 
From his sister-in-law Susan:    My brother Bill has gone the extra mile for Uncle Peter and I for many years. Bill called Peter, sent messages, articles, photos etc. to remember Peter thru his rough health conditions. When Peter went home to the Lord he stepped in to do the same for me. I had great NY visits for the last 4 years. We had wonderful times and I have good memories of him.
From his niece Cassandra:  
I have two favorite memories of uncle Bill. 
      One summer in the 70s mom shipped me off to spend a few weeks with uncle Bill. I'm sure he was thrilled at the concept. We drove from New York to Wisconsin and stopped at various historical sites along the way. At one point uncle Bill needed to do something in downtown Philadelphia so he took me to a movie theater, dropped me off in front of it and said "you like science-fiction, go see that movie ."  And left.
    It was Star Wars, and I and another boy were the only people in the movie theater. But I didn't care, I  was enthralled and thought it was the best thing ever . From then on, whenever we came into another town, I would ask three things: " Can I have a root beer, can I have some onion rings, and can I go see Star Wars again?"
     Later that summer we spent time at David's farmhouse in Wisconsin. The house had no indoor plumbing, and electricity only in one room. One night when it was extremely hot and we are all sleeping upstairs, I kept everyone awake talking and telling jokes and laughing and laughing. I'm sure they were thrilled with that as well. :-)  But I also spent that summer picking black berries,and listening to Celtic music (the Chieftains) and dancing under the Milky Way. 
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there,  I do not sleep. 
I am a thousand winds that blow.  
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on the ripened grain.
I am the gentle Autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush, 
I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry. 
I am not there. 
I did not die. 
My Spirit is still alive...