Bill Kennedy seems to have an endless supply of jokes and life-stories – a ‘walking file cabinet’ crammed with jokes and anecdotes that will keep you in stitches for hours on end, a man who would make a great stand-up comic.
But appearances can be deceiving! Ask him for a joke…he comes up empty! You see, Bill is the master of spontaneity. In normal conversation, there’s no end to his stories and jokes but put him on the spot? He comes up firing blanks!
You’re likely thinking, “Is this another joke? Reading about Bill in a senior’s column? He’s years away from meeting the ‘65-year-old’ criteria!” You’ve been had! He is on the right side of sixty-five…at least as far as this column is concerned!
Bill was born in ‘La belle province du Quebec’ in a very un-French-sounding district called Beechgrove, the fourth of six kids. With a name like Kennedy (which traces its history back to Ireland), living in an area called Beechgrove, Bill grew up speaking English.
Home was a dairy farm, so life was an ‘udder’ riot! Bill attended a Catholic school, taught by nuns, until Grade 10. He transferred to the local high school to finish Grade 11. Since Grade 12 didn’t happen in Quebec back then, Bill graduated after just eleven years of school!
Milking cows wasn’t Bill’s cup of tea, so he worked as a mechanic at his brother Ellard’s garage. Because the garage was in a small town called Quyon, business was harder to come by. So…four years after Bill had started working there, the garage doors closed for good – of course it had nothing to do with Bill’s mechanical abilities! Those four ‘mechanic years’, though, did set the table for what Bill would do for most of his working career – more about that later.
Ellard’s Garage had bought most of their auto parts from a GM dealership about forty miles away, so Bill went to work there. While employed there, Bill finished the required training to become a licenced mechanic.
An allergy to brake fluid forced Bill into a career change. Not being too thrilled about sporting a perpetual rash, he entered the world of construction, driving bulldozers and track hoes. That lasted about five years.
But those earlier years of being a mechanic had shaped Bill. Since working on cars was out of the question, he turned to the mechanics of refrigeration, working at the local arena. Eventually, Bill started up his own refrigeration business back in his old stomping grounds of Beechgrove.
And the rest is history! Except for about two and a half years, Bill has been fixing and installing refrigeration equipment ever since…as many of you know and have benefited from.
In 1984, a young lady who knew Bill also knew Heather Tucker. Feeling that both of them were too happy being single, she introduced them to each other. Two years later, Heather Tucker was Heather Kennedy. Before long, the children came – first Sadie Anne and then Amanda. That’s the extent of the Kennedy clan but that is about to change – grandchild #1 is scheduled to arrive next month, thanks to Amanda and her husband, Peter.
Bill’s mom, Dorothy, died when Bill was 18, but her passing birthed ‘Joe’s Corn Roast’. The corn roast was intended to be a ‘thank-you’ to four couples who had been there for Joe Kennedy when his wife had passed, but it was decided to do it again the next year…and it became an annual event for about thirty years. It even continued for about ten years after Joe’s passing! Up to two hundred people attended the Corn Roast…and many have t-shirts to prove it!
Three years after Joe’s death, Bill and Heather moved west to Lumby, British Columbia. Bill put his refrigeration business on ice for the two-plus years they lived there, working as an adjuster for Service Master, assessing flood and fire damage.
Meanwhile, most of Heather’s family were living in the Pierson area. So in 1997, Bill and Heather made yet another significant move – going from BC to Manitoba. Bill revived his refrigeration company – Bill’s Mechanical. It continues to this day…even though Bill is old enough to be featured in this column!
Bill meets many people through his business – something he loves! His love for being with people extends beyond business – he regularly enjoys ‘information coffee’ at the Heritage Restaurant in Pierson. Other loves include helping out with projects at Turtle Mountain Bible Camp and Pierson Bible Chapel and projects at home, like building or renovating his own home. In fact, he is just putting the finishing touches on his third ‘home project’, converting an old Methodist Church that, ironically, was built by Heather’s great-grandpa way back in 1895! He also loves the kitchen – specifically cooking. He holds his own over the stove and BBQ…why, he even served up a meal to feed about seventy people at his cousin’s wedding!
Well, there’s much more to say about Bill, but no more space to put it! He’s a wise man from the east that now calls west home!