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

Gorden Schweers

The news that William had passed was devastating, a loss to the marine community and those of us who can feel blessed to have shared his invaluable time.

This last Christmas I phoned ahead, then visited his studio which is without question a marvelous place. Looking for a gift for my daughter-in-law, we had discussed a visit perhaps a few times before — but I was always distracted until finally managing to get myself together enough to make my pilgrimage. William took the time to show me his latest inventions and projects. One such marvelous device came in the shape of the pipe organs he was rebuilding. I’d never seen these in use before (perhaps at church) but William ran off a series of musicians from Neil Young to many others who use them on stage. Then we moved over to his latest project, depicting the relationship between the movement of squid in water to the principle of a jet engine. He had set up a display of large squid in various stages of motion, all presented in meticulous style. Bravo! Everything we herald as a great human achievement and discovery is taken from nature in any case.

His shop and personality was a place where any visitor would be honored to spend a few hours in formal discussion. We went through a series of his framed masterpieces but only after a long discussion about the disappearance of sea stars along the West Coast. The ocean is so fathomless, the territory of whales in migration, and all other miracles, I found the disappearance of any given species “due to a parasite” next to impossible to believe. But it is indeed happening, the canary in the coal mine if we take note.

William opened up his filing cabinet and paged me through a series of his framed prints until we had found the one my daughter-in-law will treasure for the rest of her life. It is without question a masterpiece and one which William refused to charge me a fair price. This man values his own generosity and friends more than financial gain. That single quality made William in my eyes unique in the modern world. By then I had taken up most of his morning. On leaving I asked if my son and his wife could come for a visit at some point. That will never happen now.

When driving home, a CD of Neil Young was playing which I had listened to many times and there it was – the pipe organ being accompanied by Neil Young! That of course was William’s gift, opening our eyes and ears to the world around us so that we see how unique it all is, nature as a work of art from which artists such as William act as our intermediaries. Rilke has a poem of one friend who had died suddenly, writing, “Could I never have seen you?” Things he touched in his studio turned not to gold but to art and beauty.

A life well spent in the service of helping us take note of what we are losing in nature and finally in ourselves.

Thank you, sir. I am indebted by such an effort and achievement.

Contact Bilz

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