William (Bill) Dean, 66, passed away unexpectedly on March 28, 2016. Bill was born Feb. 5, 1950, to Robert and Margaret Dean in a taxi cab on the way to Walla Walla General Hospital. Bill grew up in Richland, Wash., graduating from Columbia High School in 1968.
Bill was always a responsible kid. Since he needed his own spending money, he had a newspaper route and sold Christmas cards door to door. He wanted to learn to box, but his lifelong friend Arly Hoglen broke Bill’s nose in the effort. Instead, he played basketball at the Methodist church, and although he didn’t play basketball in high school, he was a diehard Gonzaga fan and never missed watching a game — they were even better when his close friends Dave Smith and Chris Sensel joined him.
His love of the written word was both his passion and lifelong career. He joined the United States Navy in 1968 as a newspaper journalist and served until 1972. Following his military service, he worked a variety of jobs to put himself through college and graduated from Eastern Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/secondary education in 1979.
Bill’s first teaching position was with the Wilson Creek School District in Central Washington where he did everything from supervising the yearbook to coaching tennis and basketball. In perfect Bill style, he often referred to Wilson Creek as Wilson “Crick” because, in his words, “The place was too small to be a creek.” Bill and wife, Chere, relocated to Spokane, Wash., where Chere worked in property management and Bill commuted to his new teaching assignment at Post Falls High School. In 1991, Bill jumped the fence and joined the small staff at New Vision Alternative High School, where he taught until his retirement in 2014.
Teaching was to become Bill’s “groove.” A Nationally Board Certified teacher, Bill’s classes were lively places. His not so subtle nudging to get students to work harder and write more were balanced with a dry wit and sense of humor that allowed him to turn discouraged learners into proud writers. He won Teacher of the Year awards multiple times, some chosen by students and others chosen by his peers.
In addition to nurturing the souls of his students, Bill loved to nurture plants and flowers. He spent every weekend winter through spring at his second home, the New Vision Greenhouse. He was especially proud of the spring plant sale and would start getting calls in March about the date for the spring tomato sale from folks as far away as Sandpoint. Many, many students learned the ropes of growing and taking care of living things from Bill and Dave during this time. Bill always considered his New Vision Colleagues as part of his family.
Bill loved to read and had as many as four or five books at his side at a time, in addition to the Atlantic and Harper’s magazines. When he wasn’t spoiling his wife, Chere, he took time to fish and always looked forward to his annual trip with Dave to Koocanusa Lake for kokanee salmon. After retirement, Bill took up golfing in earnest with regular lessons and shooting the breeze time with Dave.
Not surprising for a fisherman, Bill could spin a yarn with the best of them. It was hard to tell if the story was true or not, but the lucky people who got to hear them didn’t care; they were too busy laughing hysterically. It wasn’t until his friend, Colleen Kelsey, discovered his tell — a dimple that twitched when he was making it up that the secret was out. Bill loved to entertain, whether it was in the classroom or the living room. He raised people up and helped them believe in themselves. Not bad for a kid born in a taxi cab.
Bill is survived by his wife, Chere of Coeur d’Alene; three siblings, Caroline Chavez of Finley, Wash., Mike (Kelly) Dean of Kennewick, Wash., and Mary (Gary) Nelson in Kennewick. He also leaves several nieces and nephews, Jenna (Brian) Cook, Maggie Dean, Dustin (Jennifer) Chavez, Devon (Angie) Chavez, Kyle Nelson and Rylie Dean. Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Margaret Dean; and his sister, Becky.
Family and friends will gather at a later date for a private memorial. Please visit Bill’s online memorial at www.englishfuneralchapel.com.