Bill Spelchan was born in 1940. He worked on his parents farm milking cows and when he got older driving tractors. He had trouble speaking and so was treated poorly by people until his Uncle, also named Bill, noticed that he was tongue tied. Once it was fixed he loved talking to anyone be it stranger, neighbor, or Family. He always had time for a story. Trouble was his middle name, but there were cases where he was innocent. For instance, after seeing Mary Poppins use an umbrella like a parachute in a movie, he and his brother John were on the roof with an umbrella. When his oldest sister Mary insisted she go first and injured herself as a result of jumping, she told their parents that Bill and Johnny pushed her.
Bill’s exploits with his Indian Motorcycle, and later his car, made the Dukes of Hazzard look like light-weights. In his early teens, after a harrowing chase where a shortcut was used to beat the cops to the farm, his mother protected him by pointing out that he was on the farm and besides, adult cops should have no trouble catching a couple of kids.
His guardian angel must have been watching over him as Bill was introduced to Martha and despite their differences they fell in love. While their love has many story-book elements to it, he was also required to work hard to make ends meet. He built his first house next to his parents on Wood avenue. The house had an unfinished basement for a long time as he couldn’t afford to cement it so the girls enjoyed playing in the muddy basement. He found work operating heavy machinery which eventually lead to forestry where he worked as a lumberjack and got his metal thumb after a tree fell on him. His daughter Mary was always fascinated by his thumb.
His first child, Peggy, was born in 1964. A couple of years later they had Mary Martha wanted another child in hopes of finally having a good one and in 1970 she had her final child. The doctor saw a resemblance to his father and suggested the child be named Billy. While not sure it was a good decision, Bill decided to let his wife name their son after him to much confusion in future years.
His work led him to saw filing where he got a good reputation and was hired to get the Tahsis mill up to speed. It was while there that he broke his foot and while on pain-killers that he raced his children down the street. Calling out “come on girls I’ll race you. His hard work in Tahsis resulted in an offer from Crown Zellerbach to work in their Armstrong mill, so he returned to Armstrong and with some help built his house on colony street.
This is where he would settle down as he would stay working at the Armstrong Mill as it changed ownership several times. With Armstrong becoming his permanent home, he became known as the person who always gave a helping hand. While his stubbornness often resulted in him refusing help, when he did need help he would find cunning ways of getting people to help him without ever asking for help.
In addition to work at the mill, during a strike he started Okanagan Donair with his neighbor and the hopes of starting something that his children would be able to take over. The work to reward ratio was not high enough and after a few years the business was sold and eventually vanished. The best thing that came out of the venture was the pita pizza, which many members of the Spelchan family still make.
When Billy left home for Calgary, Bill and Martha moved out of the house on Colony and built a house on Sage that looked remarkably similar to this one. While they enjoyed that house, when the lots for pheasant ridge were announced, Bill found the lot with the best view and decided that this would be the location he would want to retire at. As him and Martha were very happy with the house on sage, they decided to only make minor changes to the layout, such as the addition of a mud room and an attached garage, and he built his final house. The real-estate marked was in a bit of a slump at the time so in order to get a decent offer on the sage house he a ridiculously short period to move out. Thankfully most of his brothers and sisters were there to help move him to the unfinished house on pheasant ridge in just three days. Items were being put into boxes just as quickly as they were loaded up into pickups and moved to the new house.
He retired at 58. From there time was spent fishing and camping, with trips across Canada being a main highlight of his retirement. His workaholic tendencies would be one of his greatest regrets as he missed a lot of his children growing up, which may be why he spoiled his grand children and great grand-children whenever they visited.
Even in retirement, he still had workaholic tendencies as applied to his hobbies. The sign on the tool shed was named such as whenever one of his visitors asked Martha where he was, the answer was “in his playhouse” which became known to his grandkids as “Papa’s Playhouse”. He was able to bring back his passion for vehicles (though thankfully not the being chased by cops part) by taking rusted out cars that were barely road worthy and restoring them to beautiful classic cars. Then he spotted a rusted out and mostly disassembled Model T and wanted to repair it. Martha was sick of being second place to repairing cars so told him no! She, however, knew how much he desired that pile of scrap metal so talked to the owner and arranged a birthday gift for her husband. She never saw him much for two years after that as he turned a shell of a car into a fully working Model T.
But, cars were more of a summer thing and he needed something to keep him occupied during the winter as well. Martha stumbled upon a PBS show with some dude named Bob Ross and she suggested that he could try that as he liked creating things. He refused until his sister Barb started playing around with acrylics. Not to be outdone, he tried acrylic painting out but liked Bob’s paintings so quickly switched to oil where he recreated some of Bob’s paintings before starting to move into paintings from his own memory and then due to prompting from his children, into more original things.
Medical problems would be his big downfall. Not his, though he had numerous problems himself, but his wife getting colon cancer. It was clear that he wished to be with her and despite our loss we can be grateful that he is with her again.