Faces in the Crowd – A Bill of Goods

Posted on October 6, 2016 under Faces in the Crowd with 2 comments

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“My job enabled me to move frequently. Meeting new people was always interesting. It was a great learning experience.”

Meet Bill Draper.

He was born in Brandon, Manitoba, the son of a nomadic Imperial Oil agent. He vividly remembers the half mile walk to school on bitterly cold prairie mornings. In his youth, he played football, learned how to play the piano and drums and also had an interest in drama. He and his friends often rehearsed plays in the family basement, to the bemusement of his mother.

In the 40’s the family packed up and moved to Halifax, where Bill attended Queen Elizabeth High School. In his late teens, after completing high school, Bill began an apprenticeship in accounting with H.R. Doane. While working for Doane, he took his Chartered Accountant course by correspondence and received his C.A. designation at the age of 20. Around the same time he met Connie MacDonell at a dance and they were married before he turned 21.

I didn’t take long for the young Draper couple to establish their nomadic ways as Bill carved out new territory for the company, starting in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. He took time from his busy work life to play drums in a band at the beach in Summerville. From an early age, Bill developed a philosophy that doing anything was possible if you put your mind to it. He simply assumed that any initiative would meet with success.

In the early 60’s, the family moved to Corner Brook, Newfoundland. At that time, getting to their home on the west coast of the island (other than by ferry) required a flight into Stephenville and then a perilous drive over rut-filled roads to Corner Brook.  Invariably, a rock or two would impale the gas tank. Bill’s solution was to carry a bar of Sunlight soap and use it to plug the leak in the gas tank by rubbing it repeatedly across the surface.

In the mid 60’s, Antigonish beckoned and this is where Bill and the family settled down.   He kept working until October of 2015, just shy of his 90th birthday. It is conceivable that he is the longest serving Chartered Accountant in Canada … if not the world!

While he loved the accounting work, he equally enjoyed getting to know his clients and many of them became firm friends. And he made his presence felt in the community as well, as a member of the St. Martha’s Hospital Foundation and a board member of the Building for Youth group that successfully built the Antigonish Arena. He was an avid golfer and was also a pretty good carpenter, building both a boat and a shed.

Bill was no slouch in the kitchen either, turning his talents to baking pies and breads and making preserves in the fall of the year. By all accounts, he was a “man for all seasons.”  He still reads the Chronicle Herald and the Globe and Mail every day … cover to cover.

Bill’s family means everything to him. His entrepreneurial streak was in evidence when he came home one day and announced that he was going to open an electronics store, even though he had no expertise in this field (… that quiet, positive, confident attitude again.)  His instincts told him that a Radio Shack franchise would go. He approached his son Dennis. “I need a partner for the store,” and just like that they turned the burgeoning business into a success story.

My wife grew up across the street from the Draper family.  “Bill made us our first computer before anyone really had them in their homes.   He even built a desk for it – solid pine and still going strong.  They were wonderful neighbors and our parents were good friends.  We loved to watch the Draper boys come and go – they had great cars!”

Bill watched his four children grow up and now he revels in his grandchildren, and they in him.  Those who live nearby visit him every day.

A long time ago, one of his sons left home and asked Bill if he could leave his English setter, Sheba, with him for a bit. Forty years and three more Sheba’s later, Bill still finds comfort in having “man’s best friend” at his side. He walks Sheba every day, sometimes twice, and they are excellent company for each other.

Bill Draper has dedicated his life to his family, friends, business partners and his clients. He has been a good husband, a good father, a good grandparent, a good businessman, a good community man and good to his dogs. This is certainly a bill of goods that must make his family proud.

 

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Comments

2 Responses to Faces in the Crowd – A Bill of Goods

  1. Bernice Smith says:

    Love your stories Len and this one about Bill is so nice. Always enjoyed saying “Hello” to him on the street. A very dignified man.

  2. Leo Purcell says:

    great tribute to a great human being. Well done, Len.

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