Beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, friend, teacher, Bill died peacefully June 7. Born and raised on the Philadelphia Main Line, Bill always romanticized about being “out West” and after successful stints teaching in Boston and New Hampshire, he came west to Seattle in 1982 and continued his teaching. Then worked for the National Park Service, including a time at City of Rocks in southern Idaho. He took up a third career as weather journalist and wrote for 20 years for the Methow Valley News where he made his second home in Winthrop, buying a place where he “could ski out the front door.”
From his youth Bill loved the outdoors and the mountains–hiking, snowshoeing, backpacking, skiing, canoeing, snakes and other creatures, trees and wildflowers–all were embraced with zest and vigor, qualities which became his trademark. But the qualities which most endeared him to others were his genuine interest in and respect for others, and his ability to convey this with warmth and sincerity.
In all his careers, he involved the outdoors, establishing and maintaining outing clubs for the boys he taught, extending their appreciation of nature and literature reciting “Walden” and the “Odyssey” on hikes and snowshoe trips thru the White Mountains and Presidential Range. It was frequently the boys’ first experience as outdoorsmen and often led to an enduring relationship with nature. More recently, he led canoe trips for several years to Lake Ozette as popular fundraisers for the Center for Wooden Boats replete with good whiskey and gourmet fare. And he continued his teaching on the slopes of Snoqualmie Summit encouraging students to love the outdoors via Nordic skiing classes for SAAS and North Seattle Comm. College.
Bill loved music, beginning with listening to Wagner’s ” Flying Dutchman” at home with his father. His tastes were eclectic to say the least, Woody Guthrie, Schumann, country western, folk, Gordon Bok, Phillip Morgan …. About this time he also made a brief appearance with the Seattle Symphony, promoting Schumann’s Manfred, thoroughly enjoying interacting with Gerard Schwarz. He also became a great supporter of the societies for the poet, Byron, as a member of the Byron Societies of America and England, giving papers on Byron and music(Schumann) and the paintings of JMW Turner and weather at conferences in Paris, U of Delaware, U of New Brunswick and Missoulongi, Greece .
It was a natural evolution from the romantic poet, Byron, to more wide-ranging poetry as he was slowed down with a stubborn foot injury, in the same foot damaged by frostbite on a winter camping trip. He used poetry abundantly in writing his enduring and endearing WeatherWatch column for the MV News.
Born in 1930, attended Haverford School, then Dartmouth, Class of 1952, followed by service in the U.S. Army, Counter Intelligence Corps, stationed in Japan where, newly promoted to Tech Sergeant, he was assigned to teach culture and history to army personnel. Upon discharge, he completed an MA in Education at Harvard, then joined the faculty at Noble and Greenough School near Boston. He moved on to Holderness School in New Hampshire, 1968 – 1982, where he directed the Outing Club and established a Visiting Author’s program and was honored in 2011 by a memorial in the new dormitory. He brought an enthusiasm to his teaching that infused and inspired those around him.
In 1956 he married Barbara Ruth Noyes, whom he met as a candystriper while in hospital while healing from a camping accident. Their four children, Robert, Edward, Peter, and Eleanor were born between 1958 and 1970. In summers between terms they all camped and hiked on epic journeys across the US and Canada. Bill and Barbara later divorced, and he relocated to Seattle, meeting Barbara Buchan and marrying in 1994 on the Isle of Skye, Scotland . He continued his teaching at Seattle Academy(SAAS) for nearly 5 years before his time with the National Park Service. He and Barbara II traveled extensively, and enjoyed escaping to Winthrop.
Bill is survived by his wife, Barbara Buchan and his children :Robert and his wife Ariel of Annapolis, MD; Edward and his wife, Ridgely of Katonah, NY; Peter and Heather of Seattle; Eleanor and her husband Tom McCarthy of Ithaca, NY; and grandchildren Elliot, Pippa, Sam, Martha, James, Liam, Jedric, Abigail, and Flynn; brothers, David of Philadelphia and wife Dinny, and Craig III of Annapolis; numerous nieces and nephews and friends.
Remembrances may be made to the Methow Conservancy, Winthrop, Washington or to the Keewaydin Foundation, Salisbury, Vermont, or simply give a flower or pay a compliment to someone special in Bill’s name. A celebration of Bill’s life is planned for July 21 at 1pm at St. Marks Cathedral 1245 10th Ave E, Seattle 98102. If you are planning to attend the celebration, please RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/327897007296192/ . Please leave a comment in the space below or on Facebook: William Whelen Biddle.