Magnificent Sea Creatures of the Pacific Northwest
Call Bilz: 250-285-3468

David Suzuki

I am shattered by the death of my dear neighbour, Will.

We have lost a kind and generous man who was a brilliant scientist and artist. When Tara and I first met him over thirty years ago, we were immediately intrigued by the techniques he had developed to make remarkable, astonishingly accurate replicas of fish, crabs, seastars, virtually anything sufficiently solid to be covered with material to make a mold.

His artistry was not only the wonderfully accurate detail of scales and spiny fins, but also the colour he painted on the cement and later plastic replicas. He created works of art with those replicas, often putting them together in unexpected and funny ways, like a miniature tractor plowing through a bed of scallop shells. I hope he was able to pass on the method he painstakingly developed to make these replicas of marine species, because it’s a technique to record specimens that is far superior to drab carcasses stored in alcohol or formaldehyde.

Will had all of the attributes of a great scientist. I felt honoured that he shared his knowledge and art with me, and he taught me a lot. He was insatiably curious and he meticulously researched all that was known about the unusual specimens fishers from far and wide brought to him. I am sure his wife Barb, as a librarian, helped him track down information that went back to obscure 19th century publications, often in foreign journals.

Many fish brought to him were rare and I am absolutely sure Will discovered and observed aspects of the specimens that could and should have been published in scientific papers. I always felt Will should have been recognized far more for his work. But he had an extra quality that is so rare in many scientists – the quality of humility. He was not aggressively assertive about what he knew and had learned. He was a good man, so generous with his time, especially with a willingness to share his knowledge and work with Tara and me and our children and countless others.

The truth is, many scientists like me make their reputation more by how they trumpet their incremental contributions to science than by their real significance. I grieve the loss of a friend who was a fine human being, a brilliant scientist and a talented artist.

Contact Bilz

Email: bilzrockfish[at]gicable[dot]com
Phone: (250) 285-3468
Box 245, Heriot Bay, BC , V0P 1H0