By Emily and Vans Bryant – On April 18th, 2013, Clyde River lost one of its most unforgettable residents, William S, Waller Sr. Although Bill was a resident of Riverview Manor in Montague and had not lived in Clyde River for several years, he was always considered a resident of Clyde River.
Bill is survived by his daughter Margaret (Bob) MacGregor, Montague, son Bill (Betty) Clyde River, and grandchildren Robbie (Jackie), Esther and Graeme. Bill was a widower for many years and he said the happiest years of his life were when his wife Mabel was well and there was always family and friends visiting the Waller home on the Baltic Road.
Bill was one of the most unforgettable men we will ever meet. He had expressions that were priceless and, if you are lucky, you will remember some of his comical sayings. He loved to tell stories especially about horses and had the capacity to turn an everyday event into a saga that one couldn’t forget. This writer, Emily Bryant, made a list of many of Bill’s famous one – liners. He asked me if I was going to write a book and use them.
Many of Bill’s neighbours and friends have similar memories to ours. For Vans and Emily Bryant, Bill is remembered as an independent and generous neighbour who shared stories, vegetables and eggs on a regular basis. He was especially kind to Addison Livingston and, in fact, Bill Waller was the reason that Addison was able to live at the end of the Baltic Road as long as he did. The Canfields, Bill’s nearest neighbours, were especially good to him and he was a grandfather figure to the Canfield children during their formative years. Bill frequently visited Percy and Janice Scott and the Dixon family. Bill was also close to a few special old friends and his church connections. Bill Sr.’s children have always been there for their father but he was pretty independent until he left Clyde River. Since that time Bill increasingly needed help. For a time he lived with Margie until he required more care than possible at her home.
Bill Waller was a strong hard-working man. He had lost two fingers during World War II but this injury didn’t hold Bill back one bit. He loved horses and for many years he found joy in raising a colt from his favourite Clyde mare. Bill could train any horse to be smart and hard-working although he claimed some horses “weren’t worth the effort”. He cut hay with horses long after everyone else was using tractors. He did own a tractor but found it to be a “curse”. In his words, “it was always breaking down or costing money” just when he needed it the most. Bill Waller Jr. shared this love of horses and he has the last of the community’s draft horses and actually still has one of his father’s Clydesdales.
Many knew Bill Waller Sr. from the many years he delivered mail using a horse and wagon or sleigh and later a car. Residents in Clyde River and surrounding districts remember hearing the sleigh bells on Bill’s horses announcing the arrival of the morning mail. In bad weather, Bill said his horses could get the mail delivered when the drivers using a car couldn’t or wouldn’t even try. At Bill’s retirement party, several people spoke of the extra kindnesses that Bill Waller carried out during his years of delivering the mail. For some, it meant he left a turnip or a dozen eggs in the mailbox. For some it meant he used his strong arms to push a car out of a snow bank. For all it meant a chat about local news and a good story.
The Wallers taught Vans Bryant all about horses, and for several years Bill Sr. and Vans were a good team cutting wood. Bill Sr. cut his own firewood to heat his house until he left Clyde River at the age of 80 yrs. A talked-about memory for Vans and Bill Jr. was the time that a load of lumber rolled off the wagon as they took the load home from the woods. The logs shifted and tumbled over and as the wagon wheel rolled over Bill Jr. injuring him, Vans also twisted his ankle. As Bill Jr. got the team of horses under control, Bill Sr. ran across the field to get the car to help the two younger men.
In the days ahead, many stories will be told about Bill Waller,Sr. We hope these memories will be helpful to his family. For Bill Waller’s contribution to his country as a Veteran, for his contribution to Clyde River and the other communities where he lived, and for his colourful personality, we are glad we had the privilege of knowing him.
Visiting hours for William S. Waller will be Monday, April 22 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. at the MacLean’s Funeral Home, also where the funeral service will be held in the Chapel on Tuesday, April 23 at 1:30 p.m.