This is a place where those who knew and loved Bill may share their memories. If you'd like to sign this guestbook, please use the form at the bottom of the page.
The Bill Davis Memorial Guestbook
9/6/07 at 12:02— Ray Parrish writes:
30 year old ripples
Bill Davis was the first VVAW vet I ever met. On a rainy evening in March 1978 he was the bus captain urging me to hurry up and board in a voice that flashed me back to basic. I was a freshman campus radio reporter joining a group of UIUC students going to an anti-KKK rally & march in Tupelo MS. When he discovered that I was a vet, he slapped a VVAW button on me. I told him of the help VVAW provided me in assisting a vet with an Agent Orange claim and how inspired I was by the Statue of Liberty action. When he found out I worked part-time as a vets counselor in the financial aid office, he laughed, hugged me and boomed out: "Welcome to the front lines! Good luck banging your head on the VA's wall." I never had the courage to disappoint him by quitting, so I've been doing veterans counseling ever since. And he was there supporting me at every step. I still feel his hand on my shoulder.
I will miss him and, in his honor, I will redouble my efforts to LEAVE NO VET BEHIND.
9/6/07 at 13:59— Jenny Ori writes:
You will be missed. Thank you for dedicated service.
All my prayers to your family.
9/6/07 at 14:09— Bill (John) Crandell writes:
I did not know him, but I sure remember that time and place. Presently, seeing the photos of him, I think of that image of a deserted mortar emplacement high on Mother's Ridge, above The Rockpile, once upon a time in all of our lives.
CONDOLENCES to his loved ones.
9/6/07 at 14:11— Michael O'Brien writes:
As a Vietnam War Era Navy vet and long time organizer, I have been inspired by VVAW for many, many years. Folks like Bill come around only now and then and he will be missed.
My thoughts and those of all our brothers and sisters are surely with Bill's family.
In peace, Michael O'Brien
9/6/07 at 14:15— Michael L. Hayes writes:
While I did not know Bill Davis I truly honor his life and the things he represented. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends. May we all carry on his work with the spirit that he did.
9/6/07 at 14:15— Ward Reilly writes:
I will cherish sitting next to Bill on the "Activism" panel at the VVAW 40th celebration in Chicago,now, more than ever. To lose him today, when we so desperately need as many good activists as we can muster, hurts so badly, but Bill lived his life right, fighting always for justice, and he did more than his fair share. Rest In Peace, Brother Bill, you were a great man in a world of full of complacent men and women.We'll see you on the other side.Love and peace someday, Ward Reilly
9/6/07 at 14:19— Sanford Cook writes:
We have lost a REAL hero. Not only did he stand for what he believed to be right, but also he stood for it in the face of adversity and criticism. His example has made all of us a little bit of Bill, and that is his legacy: as long as we fight he will be fighting.
Veterans United For Truth & VVAW
9/6/07 at 14:22— John and Edie Zutz writes:
As sick as Bill was, he made it to VVAW's 40th anniversary. His droll wit combined with his sense of irony and satire have always distinguished his speaking. He started the panels off and led us all in a good direction.
I met Bill in the early '80s at a Milwaukee Campout. In the early morning hours, after sensible folks were sleeping, a few die-hards remained around the fire talking smart and acting stupid. Bill began stumbling toward his sleeping bag, but managed to belly flop into the fire. He didn't stay long enough to hurt anything but his pride. I knew then I was with the right organization.
9/6/07 at 14:25— Terry J. DuBose writes:
May Bill Davis rest in the peace he sought much of his life.
Peace, Terry J. DuBose
Viet Nam, 1967-1968
VVAW Texas Coordinator, 1970-1972
9/6/07 at 14:32— Mike O'Connor writes:
I learned far too late in life our desperate need for peace. If I had followed the path Bill chose earlier in my life perhaps violence would not be such an available option as it is today.
I wish the family the peace of our Lord.
9/6/07 at 14:45— Andy Berman writes:
With great regrets, we will not be able to attend the service, as we have just moved to Minneapolis.
We remember Bill as a gentle loving soul, a friend, a fellow activist in Oak Park and a beloved brother in VVAW.
Of all my memories of Bill, the one that stands out particularly is the great gentleness he always showed to our disabled daughter. We will keep this giant of a man in our hearts for the the rest of our lives.
9/6/07 at 15:18— Horace Coleman writes:
I only met Bill once. That was when he led a panel at VVAW's 40th anniversary.
He was efficient, well informed, courteous and definitely in charge-- without being bossy or officious.
Some people give you a good vibe the first time you meet them. When remembrances about deceased VVAWers were given, Bill spoke fondly and effectively. From the heart.
He worked hard and did well in many ways.
Nothing good happens without people like Bill having a hand in it.
He'll be missed. And remembered.
What I learned about him was as impressive as he was.
9/6/07 at 15:19— Cesar Ruvalcaba writes:
I remember soft spoken always smiling, a smile that lit a room and reminds me of my father and makes me cry just thinking about it, but thats Bill Davis his noble humility and strong silent will where always pressent where ever he went. I remember a couple of years back while over 7,000 Veterans marched for Peace as we passed the Vietnam Memorial Site I looked to Bill and nodded down there's where Daley put the Memorial to Honor the Veterans who Defended this Counrty where no one who is passing by can see it unless you know it is there. Bill shook his head in disaproval but, it did not matter to him what Daley though of him for Bill was very sure of himself and what he did. His lovely family well that statement says is all we've been to your house once Joan and you treated us like family, and no we won't get lost again, we are bonded forever. You are in our Prayers. "Our God is an Awesome God"
9/6/07 at 15:31— Dennis O'Neil writes:
I saw Bill just a few months back and this news is hard to take. Before learning of this guestbook, I posted some thoughts sparked by his death at the Fire on the Mountain blog: firemtn(dot)blogspot(dot)com
I will link to this page there in the hope that other old 'rades may find it.
9/6/07 at 15:35— Rick Hassett writes:
May He Rest In Peace. All of us have so much to be thankful to him for.
9/6/07 at 16:00— Billy X. Curmano writes:
I returned from Vietnam disoriented in 1969. Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the peace movement helped me find my way. I worked with the Milwaukee Chapter and met Bill Davis early on. Our paths crossed frequently. Through it all, the good times and the bad, I think of him keeping a sense of humor and a smile as he fought for peace and justice. I got to know him better when we traveled to Nicaragua with the VVAW delegation. We posed together for a Nicaragua Solidarity photo at the 40th. I never would have guessed it to be my last moments with him. Life is fragile. Words can never fully express the admiration I’ve felt for him or the emptiness I feel with his passing. I am comforted in the possibility of a better life – one without pain and suffering. I believe Bill has earned it. He remains in my thoughts and prayers.
9/6/07 at 16:12— Mike Woloshin, Chicago Chapter writes:
I have known Bill since 1976 when the "old" Vets for Peace had its Memorial Day Ceremony alongside VVAW at the Eternal Flame at the Daley Center. Bill and I were both active in CARD - Committee Against Registration and the Draft and battled the Sparts and other scumbags in 1979 and 1980! In 1980, he convinced me to re-join VVAW after my bad experience with the RCP!
Bill was infamous for the first VVAW "Rubber Chicken Dinner," with real rubber chicken! On Memorial Day 1980, he barbequed "stewing chickens" intended to be boiled for soup, before being eaten! I rode his back about that for years, but he took it with humor! Bill brought me to my first Wisconsin July 4th Campout that year. Here, I will differ with John Zutz: Bill did not fall into the fire, but pulled a guy from Racine out of the fire by his ankles. I know because I was there late that night drinking with the others. The same guy fell down the hill, breaking his collarbone the next year! Bill was always hard working, but easygoing. We shared working parties at the standdowns, the campouts, Memorial Day ,Vets Day and other actions. My last memory of Bill was his rousing and impassioned speech on VVAW's history and mission at the 40th Anniversary at Roosevelt University! I extend my condolences to Joan and Becky and ask them to remember Bill as I do with respect for his passion for his comrades and his sense of humor!
9/6/07 at 16:15— Larry Thorson writes:
I was briefly at the 40th anniversary event in Chicago (Vietnamese dinner only) and was impressed with the group. Honor those who built it. Thank you, Bill Davis, and all from VVAW.
Miami FL Veterans For Peace, VVAW (199th Inf Brigade 1967)
9/6/07 at 16:18— Roger Courson writes:
His passing is a huge tragedy for everyone. He gave so much to the people in this organization and to the American people in general. He will be greatly missed. The thoughts and prayers of my family are with you and yours in this time of great sorrow.
9/6/07 at 16:27— Joan & Becky Davis writes:
To all of you who loved and respected Bill - Thank you for your beautiful thoughts and reflections. Honor his memory by continuing to fight for peace and justice. His spirit and strength lives on in all of you. Your love sustains us.
Joan and Becky
9/6/07 at 17:17— Mike Mastrolia writes:
Vietnam Vet (68-69). When Bill arrives at the gates of Heavenhe will be met by St. Peter withj a well deserved "Welcome Home".
9/6/07 at 17:18— Lupe Ruvalcaba writes:
Bill was an amazing gift to his family, friends and all who knew him and worked with him. I will always remember him smiling and surrounded by people who respected and admired him and his work towards peace and social justice. He opened his home to my husband, my son and myself and shared with us a personal look at his love for his family and community. I thank God for allowing me to experience Bill's spirit in his lifetime. My heart goes out to Joan and Becky and they will remain forever in my prayers.
9/6/07 at 17:52— Bill Perry writes:
I'll always treasure the moments "billyDdog" and I served together as VVAW National Organizers.
He could always disarm, and defuse hostile moments with his quick furrowed brow, cocked head, and ever ready grin.
9/6/07 at 18:20— Johanna Zangrilli writes:
What a good man! Generosity of spirit that extended to all. I met Bill on a stop over in L.A.when he first came back from Japan back in 1975. His moving stories on this trip and his determination to fight for peace was fierce. I am so lucky that he was my friend.
9/6/07 at 18:25— Paul Wienke writes:
I only met Bill once, in 1980 or 81, he came to Madison to talk on a cable tv show I was producing called "Vets Hour", he was great to work with and did a great job of getting his points across. I left the tapes with the crew led by Jim Waktendonk, I wonder if he still has them, it could be a nice addition of the site
9/6/07 at 18:27— Steve Klinkhammer writes:
Boy, where have the years gone? I will always remember Bill with his boonie on at the campouts and at annie and joels' holiday get-togethers. The games of "JUNGLE BALL" starting in the early morning and lasting all day. I haven't seen Bill for many years now but I suspect he is in a good place. And, he really deserves to be. A caring friend, parent and, veteran. Peace Brother!
9/6/07 at 19:00— Don Albares writes:
Never met Bill,
But thanks just the same.
El Salvador 1981
9/6/07 at 19:12— Ken Nielsen writes:
I feel honored to have been able to work with Bill in VVAW the last couple of years. He was very kind and extremely knowledgeable, especially concerning the GI and labor movements. I learned a lot whenever we got to talking and always looked forward to those times as few as they were. The lack of Bill's pressence will surely be felt for a long time. A great, caring, bear of a man. My condolences to Joan and Becky. Our thoughts are with you both.
9/6/07 at 19:37— bill reynolds s.e.ohio cordinator vvaw writes:
i never knew bill but as his candle lighting the way for many of us is now dim may we light thousands more to keep his memory and our cause alive. let us all share a moment of silence in his memory then kick ass and plow on. see ya in dc
9/6/07 at 20:03— J. William Truitt Smith writes:
Reading through all of the comments and stories about brother Bill Davis only reaffirms that we still have leaders in this country. He is a fallen one who has will rise with those who were left behind, never again to be forgotten. Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family. I only wish I had the honor of knowing him. His kind are a rare breed, indeed. Thank you, Bill, for your dedication and service. God bless you.
We will not forget you or your legacy.
J.T. Smith ("Smitty")
Vietnam Veteran, 1969-73
9/6/07 at 20:16— bob gronko writes:
Bill was an inspiration, a natural motivator merely by setting the example. I had the pleasure to work with him on the Agent Orange Tour when it came to Chicago almost 2 years ago. He MC'd the event in style and his commitment to the Vietnamese led him to coordinate it this year. He leaves behind his spirit in many of us who knew him. Thank you Bill.
9/6/07 at 20:34— Buddy Georgia writes:
It is a sad day when we are called on to bid fairwell to another of our brothers'. Yes there is a joy to found in remembering a life devoted to being an obstacle to those who would use us to subjugate and plunder for their power and financial gain. As we seek to carry on we stand on the shoulders of giants. See you on the other side.
Peace and Love,
Vietnam Veteran USN 1971
9/6/07 at 21:13— Richie Manson writes:
I write this with many tears flowing. Bill was one of the warmest, most sincere brothers I've ever met. I first met Bill in the 70's, and from the beginning he was wonderful to know. He and Joan always made sure I was fed at our July 4th campouts, as I typically came unprepared and hungry. A wonderful husband, father, friend, fighter for peace and justice for all til the very end. When I saw him at the 40th anniversary just a month ago, I knew he wasn't well, yet he smiled and had kind words, plus he teased me a bit, which I always welcomed from him. From rallies in Chicago, to beer drinking in Wisconsin, there was nobody better to hang out with than this gentle, beautiful man. Bill was ready, willing, and oh so very able to carry on the struggle. The world hes lost s great guy. My thoughts and prayers go out to Joan and Becky.
With love and respect,
Richie Manson and family Milwaukee VVAW
( Brooklyn )
9/6/07 at 21:58— David Todeschini writes:
Another great American passes - sorry to learn of Bill Davis passing. My condolences & prayers for family.
9/6/07 at 22:40— Bruce Hyland writes:
The posts in this guestbook speak volumes for our dear, dear friend Bill. From those who only met Bill one time to those who had a lifetime working with Bill. The echoed refrain describes a caring person, a person working for justice, a family man, a VVAW brother of the highest order. The pain I feel over the loss of Bill I can not put into words. I can only convey my sincerest condolences to Bill’s family, which has been and will remain a big part of VVAW. While speaking with old friends this past May 4th at Kent State, the love and respect that remains for Bill was very much apparent. Bill had that unique ability to connect with many people. I consider it an honor and a privilege to have known Bill, I will very much miss him.
9/6/07 at 23:48— Jeff Machota writes:
I first met Bill sometime around the 20th Anniversary of Kent State in 1990. I was working with the Progressive Student Network at that time and gave Joe Miller a ride there. He crashed on Davis' hotel floor and that led to some great stories on the drive back.
Over the ensuing 17 years as I have worked with many in VVAW, especially the Chicago Chapter and the National Office, I have constantly been inspired by the activism, insight and comradeship of those in VVAW.
Bill has consistently been an inspiration over the years, willing to speak to an audience of 20 or 2000 if that's what it took. He was always open to speaking to youth and able to brush aside things said out of naivete. On the other hand, he definitely wouldn't suffer sectarian bullshit and knew how to deal with that as well. Bill knew how to keep a level head when the shit got intense and manged to do it with a smile. I saw that many a time, even at the 40th.
Bill also never let his views stagnate and constantly updated his analysis to the current situation. Whether it was VVAW at is peak, in its valleys or in its current resurgence, Bill was there. Bill's stories and speeches as well as his actions and his lifelong commitment to social justice continue to inspire me.
I am saddened immensely by the loss of our comrade, but also angered that we have lost a true leader before his time. We should have been able to enjoy the presence and leadership of Bill until at least the 60th Anniversary of VVAW, if not beyond.
It's great to be part of the VVAW family. Nothing can match the joy and passion of those committed to struggle for social change.
Here's to you Bill. You will not be forgotten.
VVAW National Staff
9/7/07 at 00:12— Mic Terry writes:
Bill was simply one of the best VVAW brothers I will ever have the honor and joy to know. Here's to you Bill, I'll never forget you.
9/7/07 at 04:09— AL RAJPUT writes:
My condolences to family members for untimely depart of Bill.
I did not meet Bill, but today out of blue I turned on my computer at 1:00am and some how ended up at VVAW website which I never knew existed and saw Bill's picture. I got connected and read the sad news of his passing away. May God bless his soul.
I will never forget you and the work you did for the future generations.
9/7/07 at 07:32— John Terrell writes:
My condolences to Bill's family.
All I can say is "Welcome Home" Bill.
Americal Division '67/'68
9/7/07 at 07:43— Joleen Kirschenman writes:
I am saddened by the loss of Bill and all he meant to the GI rights and rank-and-file labor movements. I feel privileged that I was able to be there while he led the wonderful panel on the VVAW history at the 40th Anniversary and to share a long conversation with him that evening about his most recent labor struggles. My best to his family and comrades.
9/7/07 at 07:53— Mary Ellen Yamashita writes:
I have only met Bill a couple of times
through my brother, Joe Miller. Bill and his dedication will be missed.
My condolences go out to his family.
9/7/07 at 08:21— Dave Collins writes:
So long brother. You fought the good fight, for workers and vets alike. Your rest is well earned - though your passing creates an irreplaceable loss for all of us.
My very best to Bill's family at this time of their great sorrow.
9/7/07 at 09:03— Amy Meyers writes:
I first met Bill a few years ago, and he included me as if I was a member of the VVAW family since the start. His leadership, knowledge, kindness and sense of humor extended far beyond the scope of any contained space. Bill was dedicated to his family, VVAW and his labor organizing, he encompassed it all in the most genuine and respected manor. I appreciate Bill granting me the opportunity to know him and call him friend. He never left me feeling as if I knew him any less than a lifetime. The struggles we fight for is a long and difficult road made beautiful because of souls like his. My condolences and thoughts of peace to Joan and Becky and the countless folks that have been touched by this wonderful man.
9/7/07 at 10:36— Diane Wood writes:
This is a man who hated lentils even more than Willie Hager. (Apparently that's what they served at every meal when Joan Baez hosted a meeting at her ranch. I was there, but I guess the lentils were okay by me -- I don't remember that. But Willie and Bill commiserated 40 years later and it must have been pretty bad. Not sure where to reach in a situation like when a man so vital and involved as Bill leaves us. There's compassion, humor, sadness and gratitude that our paths crossed in this life.
9/7/07 at 10:36— Janet and Zoe Curry writes:
Bill, your picture is up on the bulletin board today in my 9th and 10th grade World and US History classroom. We'll be talking about veterans' and workers' struggles in your honor today, and we'll hold you in our minds as war and peace cycle through our work this year. Hope it feels like the best of the Appalachians where you are. I know Mother Jones, Joe Kinehan, Emma Goldman, the Bonus Army, and scores of others are glad to see you, but Zoe, Dave, and I wish they could have waited a few more decades.
9/7/07 at 10:42— Joe Miller writes:
I first met Bill Davis in May of 1990, when VVAW was in Kent, Ohio, for the twentieth anniversary of the Kent State/Jackson State killings. Though I had been a VVAW member since the late 1960s, I did not have much connection to the national leadership at that time. I was there with a small group of political activists from Champaign-Urbana, and I shared a room in the motel with Bill.
The morning of the major march through Kent, Bill and I chatted, while he was "armoring up" for the event. No one knew what might happen that day, and I quickly discovered that my comrades in VVAW were prepared for anything.
In the ensuing years, as I began to work more and more with the VVAW National Office, I found Bill to be among the best political organizers in VVAW. He could also tell great stories about past events that always made a clear political point.
Bill's political commitment, his sense of humor and his great laugh (not to mention his fine singing voice) will be sorely missed by his VVAW comrades and by the movement for peace and social justice at large.
9/7/07 at 11:34— barry romo writes:
How to sum up over 35 years of friendship and comradeship with the big guy. They don't get any larger (and i ain't talking pounds).
I'm angry, we don't have many like Bill. Funny, political, consistent, both a leader and a follower as the need demanded, great speaker and a great storyteller,everything but a snappy dresser!
I'm also really happy,to have hung out most of my life with him and his family. Joan, Becky and also Josh.
Been telling Bill stories.
No woppers cause his life was so big
it would be hard to top em.
9/7/07 at 11:53— Jim Baldridge writes:
I met Bill for the first time at the April 29 2006 demo in NYC. As I approached the tent where VVAW and VFP shared space, wearing my VFP hat and VVAW t-shirt, a face familiar to me from photos in years gone by approached with a big grin, a big handshake. He said "I'm Bill Davis" and he handed me his VVAW card: "Bill Davis, National Coordinator". I produced a smile as big as his and I've been carrying his card ever since.
I enlisted in 65 and served four years, the second two of which I became vehemently anti-Vietnam War. It was during that time that I think I became aware of Bill and others in the new VVAW. I got my fury from the lying LBJ, admirals and generals, but I drew my inspiration from Bill and others like him, carrying the fight to the front lines and the coffee houses and streets of America.
I always appreciated what active duty GI's and vets like Bill and many others did for the rest of us and for the anti-war movement, and that appreciation carries through to today, including all my Vietnam era comrades and our new comrades from OEF and OIF.
Now that Bill has passed I'm doubly sorry I couldn't make it to the 40th. My sincerest condolences to his family. Your loss is ours, too. I'm proud to have known him over the years, even though only very briefly in person.
Bill Davis, PRESENTE !
9/7/07 at 12:57— Jan Barry Crumb writes:
Bill Davis is still with us, to judge by the deep impression he made in VVAW and on behalf of the issues VVAW has addressed for 40 years.
My condolences to Joan and Becky and Bill's close friends. It was great that Bill was able to be at VVAW's 40th reunion in Chicago and fire folks up.
9/7/07 at 14:07— Matt Gaines writes:
Bill was a speaker at the first protest I ever attended, a solidarity rally and march against the FTAA. I'll never forget hearing him for the first time, knowing after about 20 seconds that this guy was sincere, militant, and intelligent. I was inspired by him that day, and dozens of times since then. His fire will burn for a long time to come.
9/7/07 at 14:21— Sukie Alexander Wachtendonk writes:
With heavy hearts, flowing tears and waves of grief, we share fond memories, and mourn the passing of a glorious man.
Bill will always be remembered by our family as a man of superior strength, honor, wisdom and wit.
Always a Thinker, a Reasoner, (except for the bag of baseball bats that were reserved for those special assssholes at demo's!)To me, Bill was the gentle influence in the movements he worked so tirelessly for. A fabulous orator, a lively historian, a teacher and the only "Officer" that I would follow anywhere, into any action, without the slightest hesitation. His calming influence on so many of us, on the razor's edge of the Agent Orange issue, was always gentle and kind, always respectful and appreciative of the women and children in VVAW, and the work that we have contributed to the organization over the years. We all love and appreciate Bill, immensely...
We met Bill and Joan 1978, when I was looking for answers to our childrens ongoing health problems. Through VVAW we found not only answers but the support we needed to carry on. Bill and Joan had Becky and Josh, and knew intimately what we were going through. Both were wonderfully uplifting friends who helped and inspired Jim,Ree,Zak and I, over those horrendous years of battling the Feds, The Chemical Companies, the FBI, AND the birth defects in our babies. He could always make me laugh. And cry when I was laughing!!! I have many great memories of Bill, my fellow Celt... My favorite -At one of the many VVAW Campouts in Wisconsin, Bill, Joan & kids would usually pitch tents near ours, or vice versa, as we had kids that loved to play together as well as the aduls did! One night, on the Ott's Farm, on that hill, a BIG Winnebago Camper, pulled up over the hill, Stereo Blaring CCR coming right at the Tents with our kids, and us in them! I bounded out of the tent, (the kids were now all awake and crying, into the grill of this huge Party Machine rollin on over our tent stakes! I began screaming at the inebriated driver, oblivious to our tents, and obviously to me, until Bill emerges from his tent, just past ours, with his Infamous Baseball Bat, and procedes to pound the shit out of the Winnebago! He was goin' for the big mouth driver, a stranger to us, who yelled some disgusting, perverse sexual suggestion in my direction, when I was trying to get him to stop. I do believe Bill got the Winnebago's headlights, definitely the front grill and a coule of mirrors. The reinforcements arrived and the Winnebago driver was spared.
After the adrenalin wore off and my N.Y. attitude receded, we got the kids back to sleep, we talked and laughed about it, Jim wrote "The Winnebago Wars," for Bill and I. I think he enjoyed it - I know I did! An Impressive Man and a very dear friend. I was honored to know this man and his family. I will be forever grateful to you Bill, for your friendship, your beautiful soul and soaring spirit, your laugh, your sparkling Irish eyes, and your massive contributions to the Veterans Movement.
Rest Now, Brother
9/7/07 at 15:16— Laurie Sandow writes:
I am at a loss for words to express my sadness at the loss--especially the sudden loss--of such a kind, generous, and comic soul as Bill's. As so many others on this page have testified, it seemed Bill's most fundamental reflex to welcome new friends as if they were old; to create a sense of comfort and belonging, rather than a sense of separateness and otherness. Bill, yours has been a life well-lived; a full-throttle expression of dedication, caring and activism across a wide spectrum. It is certain that your life and work has created a great wave (and your stature a great wake) that will continue to wash through all who have known you and all you have cared for.
9/7/07 at 15:36— craig clark writes:
i didn't know you, sir, but i respect your legacy, your courage, to tell the military goons that enough is enough. i pray your soul is in heaven.
9/7/07 at 15:53— John Ketwig writes:
I've only been to Chicago / VVAW Land twice. Both times, Bill was the person who came across the room with his hand outstretched and a big smile, making me feel welcome. Both times, he spoke softly but hit the mark hard. And both times, he made me smile and feel good. I have only good memories and a lot of respect for Bill, and I hope something in these few words will bring some comfort to his family. He was an example to us all!
9/7/07 at 15:59— Al Hubbard writes:
I celebrate having known you Bill. I'm proud to have
been your brother in VVAW and in life.
9/7/07 at 16:00— Carl Nyberg writes:
Jeff Machota put Bill Davis' speech at the VVAW 40th anniversary on You Tube. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
9/7/07 at 16:03— Jan Levine Thal writes:
So sad to hear that Bill is gone -- a voice of poetry and humor, and deep compassion is gone just when we need more. I remember his corned beef and cabbage with happy nostalgia.
9/7/07 at 16:08— Leah Schein writes:
I have known Bill my entire life, and loved him every minute of it. To those of you who had the honor of meeting him, you understand what a loss this is. To those who didn't, let me try to explain briefly. Bill was one of the most loving, intelligent, loyal, and dedicated people that has ever existed. He was loved by so many, and will be missed by so many more. His voice may be gone, but his message will never be silenced. His was a life that is worth remembering, and worth celebrating.
9/7/07 at 16:21— Karin Schein writes:
It still seems unreal that such a big presence as Bill is gone (though as I re-read this, Bill is gone but his presence will always remain)- losing him is one of the hardest things ever. It is so unfair!
I am not a vet, but proud to say that for more than 25 years I have marched with Bill behind the VVAW banner (even carrying it on occasion!).
I first met Bill in 1976. I was in Philly "building" for the BiCentennial March (we remember that, don't we?). I heard my friend Joan was seeing a vet named Bill, so I had to check him out. It was immediately clear how special he was and I was lucky to have been his friend ever since. If I could stand it, I'd smoke a cigar in his memory, but instead I'll just follow the Bears more closely!
Joan and Becky know he'll remain in my heart with Josh and that I love them dearly,
Peace to all who loved him, Karin
9/7/07 at 20:47— Jon Bjornson, MD writes:
I did not know Bill Davis personally, but from his splendid presentation at the VVAW 40th Anniversary,it is clear we shared many experiences, I consider among the most important and meaningful in my life.
I regret we were not better acquainted.
9/7/07 at 23:35— Country Joe McDonald writes:
I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Bill Davis. He will be missed by many. Bill was a good comrade and soldier and friend. I stayed with Bill and Joan at their home several times and enjoyed the home made cookies. So much so that I became known by the kids as "that guy who ate all the cookies".
I will "carry on" thinking of you Bill.
9/8/07 at 00:19— Dave Kettenhofen writes:
Bill was one of the most charismatic persons I've ever known. He was witty, intelligent, hard working, and could be hysterically funny. The type of person you couldn't help but like. But when things got serious and it was time to take the gloves off, you wanted to be on his side. Such a tragic loss. I'll cherish the time I was able to spend with him. Rest in peace big guy.
9/8/07 at 00:21— Frank Polites writes:
I never had the privilege of meeting Bill Davis. As a new member of VVAW, I thought he was an inspirational man and I will never forget him and his great contubution, to the VVAW, and our country.
9/8/07 at 09:54— Patrick McCann writes:
I agree with Dennis O'Neill; this news is hard to take. I love all my VVAW brothers and sisters, but Bill and Joan are my all-time faves. Bill and I were in the IAMAW (Machinists and Aerospace Workers) together, and Joan and I have been in the NEA (teachers' union) together. We've had the pleasure of sharing antiwar AND union organizing. Long live the spirit of one of the most down-to-earth brothers I've ever know! Presente, Bill Davis! Gotta go, here come the tears.
9/8/07 at 10:22— Claudia Lennhoff writes:
I met Bill Davis after getting involved with VVAW through the local Champaign (IL) chapter in the mid-90s.
I am grateful to be just one more in a huge number of many who feel honored, joyed, and inspired to have known Bill.
It feels, in the most heartbreaking and tragic way possible, that Bill was taken from us far too soon. But that in itself, is part of the measure of his great life and his great being.
Bill was everything that everyone else has written in this guestbook. He was a truly great activist and organizer for social justice - the kind who leads and inspires by example, and who nurtures and supports others and compels them to join the struggle. He was disciplined, politically sharp, and he always kept his eye on the prize and helped others to do the same.
Bill was undeniably a great man, a great person. His absolute devotion to his family was always evident. His devotion to his comrades and to the struggles for justice were likewise absolute.
Bill was gentle and nurturing, with a wicked sense of humor. But he was fierce in the struggle for justice and you wanted to work beside him and you were glad for him being here.
He made you feel welcome and useful; he was warm and funny, and it was clear that he lived life, all of it -- work, play, devotion to family, political organizing for justice -- to the absolute fullest, and he took you along with him. He showed younger activists and organizers that activism is a lifelong, joyous and serious habit. He gave and inspired courage.
Bill was simply the best of everything there is.
My condolences go to Bill's family, and to VVAW. My heart is with you all. Bill will never be forgotten, and he will continue to inspire us as we go forward in the struggles for justice and carry his memory and legacy with us.
9/8/07 at 11:54— giuseppe writes:
What a great man and a great loss. A total sweetheart and committed soldier in our struggles. A warm and amazing man to know, and far too young and capable to have left us so soon. Mark mine down as another heart punctured by the loss of Bill Davis.
9/8/07 at 12:23— Annie Luginbill writes:
Bill Davis – The name conjures up an image of a big, funny, smart, caring guy…a guy who was committed to his family, to his neighborhood, to his fellow workers and fellow veterans, and to the world as a whole. He could be wildly humorous (as when he described being introduced to VVAW via Pete Zastrow [and Pete’s beer-stocked refrigerator and collection of medieval ‘pornography’] or having FIVE [at least I think it was five] guys named Bill Davis drinking at a bar together after a VVAW demonstration) - yet he could also be as serious as the occasion demanded. It's hard to remember how many years we knew each other but it seems like forever - from the days of VVAW's NOSCAM forward. As others have written, Bill’s compassion and activism touched many lives, and he was simply one of the best people I have ever known. My love and support go out to Joan and Becky at this time and always.
9/8/07 at 14:46— Andrew Bendelow writes:
I feel awful that Bill left us so suddenly. I can only imagine how awful it must be to Joan and Becky. If nothing else, I hope they take comfort in how many people have been positively moved by their man's life.
I was privileged to accompany Bill to a David Rovics concert at the Heartland Cafe in 2006. What a bright, funny, and warm companion he was--such a solid, compassionate human being!
We feel sad at Bill's loss, but in Joan, Becky, and all his many friends, his light shines on!
9/8/07 at 15:09— Ellie Shunas writes:
The words desert me as I try to express how I feel about such a devestating loss. Never to see him or hear his voice again is unimaginable.
I first met Bill in the early 1970's. I was trying to persuade VVAW to get more involved in the GI movement and Bill wisely advised that our efforts would be better spent working with the GI's themselves rather than the civilian organizers. Correct as usual.
As we grew politically, he always knew how to cut through the b.s. One had only to tune into Bill's b.s. antenna to stay on course.
As we all know, Bill had a wonderful sense of humor, on occasion he was just hilariously funny, sometimes the butt of his own jokes, but never mean(unless somebody really deserved it).
I remember so many Thanksgiving celebrations (started by those of us like Bill and I who had no family in Chicago). At one we passed raw oysters back and forth across the length of the table grossing out everyone in between as we slurped them right out of the shells. At others he was the Trivial Pursuit sports trivia expert, where did you learn all that stuff?!
I will miss Bill terribly, but never as much as Joan and Becky - my heart goes out to you. You have my love and support - Ellie
9/8/07 at 15:41— Bill Shunas writes:
I suppose there are many ways to take the measure of a man's life. With Bill Davis I am amazed at who has come at his death to show respect. There have been veterans - young(er) friends of his children and from around his neighborhood - union comrades - fellow Bear fans - peace movement people. There may even be politicians or a Cub fan he met from his days out in the bleachers of Wrigley Field. Here was a guy who could speak before 10,000 people at an anti-nuke rally in Tokyo and coach a little league team in Oak Park, IL. Here was a guy who could share a speaking platform with Mayor Harold Washington and act as stupid as anyone at a tailgate party outside of Soldier Field before a Bear game. What a life!
And he was a good guy. He accepted you for who you were and what you did during times when others got carried away with their own agenda. And he did it with intelligence, humor and principal. Thank you, Bill.
9/8/07 at 13:10— Bill Branson writes:
It was the 1980's, I think, when Bill, Barry, et all, and myself went to Kent State for a protest against the new gymnasium. The police objected, and proceeded to attack us with tear gas ( We had masks, but had left them in our car ). During our wanderings about campus, I ended up one on one with an armored cop who looked like some kind of wierd samuri. In the midst of my face-off, Bill came by and grabbed the banner I was using as a sword out of my hands. He proceeded to rip in into two parts and extract the two banner poles. He threw me one, and said to the effect: Quit fucking around and get with the program! I don't know who was more astounded, me or the cop. We faced the cops with Bill many times over the years. He had real courage and a cool head. I will always be proud to have stood beside him.
9/8/07 at 13:25— Dave Curry writes:
I got to know Bill Davis during the political preparation for Mayor Harold Washington's Welcome Home Parade in 1985. Bill was clearly the local member of VVAW most acceptable to the more conservative vets. I admired his easy-going manner coupled with his no-nonsense political integrity. The first time Bill and I got to talk in a social situation we fell in love. The basis of our love was our West Virginia homeland. West Virginia was where we would have probably spent our lives except for the cruelties of capitalism. When I moved to West Virginia University for a few years in the early ninties, the first thing Bill asked of me was an "authentic" West Virginia cap which I gladly provided. Today I'm watching the West Virginia - Marshall game in the "Friends of Coal" Bowl. I'm accompanied by a candle I have lit for Bill.
Bill and my first adventure together occurred at the Kent State Anniversary. Bill asked me if I'd like to join him to see what RCP was up to in one of their workshops. I think it was on building support for Pol Pot and the Kmer Rouge. (I'm not kidding. RCP actually supported the Kmer Rouge against Vietnam's "aggression.") Bill and I sat in the back as serious young people wearing Palestinian keffiyeh shawls dully recited their dogma. Bill started pounding himself on the leg. As I looked at him curiously, he said "I'm trying to get myself angry. It's hard. These guys are so pathetic." Finally Bill gave a very reasoned critique of their position, and I called them counter-revolutionary parasites who sucked the organizational life from the mass movement. When Bill told the story later, he gave me credit for his funny remark about getting angry. Bill always told stories better than I.
The day before the 40th Anniversary I was given clerk duty at Barry's phone. An important event of the day was getting to talk to Bill fresh from the hospital, sounding weak, and talking about a possible lung biopsy. I told him to take it easy that we could "plug" someone into his speaking slot. He said he'd talk if he could. Not only did Bill show at the conference, he spoke twice and incredibly well. He even took leadership at times when it was needed as the event proceeded. I apologized to him for thinking that we could ever "plug" someone in to do what only he could do.
The next morning as Bill and I hugged goodbye, I selfishly asked, "Please don't die." Bill, arm still over my shoulder, smiled, "I'm not going to die." Bill was right. Bill will never die in the minds and hearts of those of us who love him. Bill will never die so long as the history of anti-war veterans and anti-war unions survives.
Joan and Becky, you have my deepest condolence, love, and respect. Thank you so much for sharing your life partner and your father with the rest of us.
9/8/07 at 18:25— Fred Schein writes:
Everyone who knew Bill understands what an engaging conversationist he was. Through the decades that we enjoyed together I was always impressed by the way he could so effortlessly converse with friends and strangers alike - naturally his vast knoweldge of politics, history, current events, pop culture and most certainly sports greased the wheels of these interactions.
But I gotta' tell ya - nowhere were these precious traits more on display then when we vacationed in Negril Jamaica.
Much of the economy is based on tourism - but for many its not just a matter of providing services - its a hustle. A whole stratified culture works the long Negril beach - what you want they've got it. Horse back rides, snorkeling, day trips to waterfalls, crafts and of course natural enhancements.
As for Bill he plied the shore and shops for exotic cigars - Cuban or whatever. There he was strolling up and down the shore with a broad smile and a shirt pocket full of stoggies.
All the locals called out to him as the "Big Guy".
It was blissful: soft sand, warm clear water, a gentle breeze - what a life - except for the hustlers who worked the beach. They are a persistent bunch and after a while they could get down right pesky.
That's where Bill's engaging character came in handy - while most of us would try to avoid them, Bill would even approach them for the real people they were - afterall they were mutual denizens of the beach so why not?
But this wasn't helping them as time is money for these small time entrepeuers- and they knew they had to move on as they had nothing that Bill was interested in - but Bill's captivating folksy humor punctuated by his pitched laugh - were not easy for them to graciously escape.
Now as for the time he had a Vets party at my house when I was out of town and the cops showed up at 3 in-the-morning, that's a different story..........and there's more than that...many more...
Consequently, these characters learned to avoid our encampment so serenity reigned for us as these hustlers politely learned to avoid us.
Our encounters changed from commodity relationships to waives and salutations between people. Bill's personality changed a hustle to a hello because of the way he practiced respect and undestanding. There were no angry words exchanged - we just reached an unspoken understanding. Ya mon'
9/8/07 at 19:44— Carl Davidson writes:
I've known Bill for a long time, like many of you here, from the days of the rather goofy, carousing and always fun VVAW campouts in Wisconsin, to the latest peace march and more serious planning activities.
Along with the fun times, Bill was mainly about authenticity, and had little use for dilettantes. His quick smile and good humor was as honest as the day is long, but was also a hook that could draw you into something much deeper, if you wanted to go there.
To my mind and many others, he was a textbook example of a good working-class revolutionary leader in every sense. He knew which class his feet were firmly planted in, and he knew who his adversaries were. But he also had a wider view of class that involved building broad alliances, of necessity, as the struggle demanded. He knew it was wise not to take on all your enemies at once. He knew the path had more twists and turns than he would have liked, and was longer than he had hoped--but he never lost sight of the final destination.
I drew that conclusion watching him give a speech a Loyola a few years back, as he explained imperialism in very down-to-earth terms to a new generation of young people.
They loved him. Many hadn't ever seen anything quite like him. But he talked about the Harold Washington campaign and the complexities of struggle, and how it was right to defend Harold despite the party label. Bill knew a fight against racism when he saw it, where he stood, and made a few sectarians in the crowd a little flustered. I made a point afterwards of shaking his hand, and giving him a 'Right, On, Comrade!
The last time I saw him was about two weeks ago. We were pulling together the Oct 27 Mobilization to stop the war in a new way, in a way that could bring out those who hadn't come out before. That meant the ACTUAL mass leaders of the working class and the Black and Latino communities--reform-minded or more radical, of whatever party--had to be in on the ground floor of launching this effort, and then they had to be inspired, nudged and even pushed to do what we believed they could do.
Bill spoke to the point, and pledged to get the machinists of the IAM more deeply involved. I knew he was sick, and heard a weakness in his voice, but I had no idea how sick. After the meeting, he came up and gave me one of his bear hugs, and said in my ear, 'Thanks for doing it this way.' 'Thank me?,' I replied. 'Thank YOU for getting all these union guys here.'
The next I heard was that he was in a coma in the hospital, then the following day that he had not made it.
I told Barry Romo this afternoon, there's two lessons here: none of us are here forever, and every life and every moment are precious.
Next May Day and thereafter, if you're around Chicago, take a rose out to Waldheim, to the hallowed ground of the Haymarket martyrs and other working-class heroes, and place it there for Bill, because he now lives on with them, continuing to inspire us all.
9/8/07 at 23:02— Mike Torney writes:
Bill was full of life, gregarious, intelligent and committed to world peace. He had many friend among Vietnam veterans, union workers and the peace movement ( and some just plain friends).
When I went 2 hours early to an anti war protest on the north side of Chicago in Feb, 2003, just a short time before the start of the war, Bill was already there setting up the stage. A few years ago I took my college age son to a Peace and Social justice conference at Jones Prep school, Bill was there helping organize and speaking at the event. Bill often was a featured speaker and spoke to thousands of people at anti war rallies in Chicago. He was on the steering committes to organize these events. At the protests Bill was usually surrounded by his Vietnam veteran "brothers" and they really locked on to each other with a common experience and a viseral knowledge of the evils of war. Last year, at an anti-war march, I was struck by the simple, wistful comment from one of his Vietnam buddies, "Who would have thought we would see two of these immoral wars in our lifetimes?" Bill nodded in agreement. Bill was a well known and influential figure in Chicago. He was committed to making a better world in ways most of us haven't even thought of. It was in his soul and his heart to change the world for the better, inch by inch, day by day.
Bill was president of his union and had the presence and command to challenge the unfair practices often used against his workers. I often heard tales of his confrontations from Joan.
Still there was nothing Bill loved more (not including his wife and children) that sitting around drinking a beer watching the "monsters of the midway." He was exceptional, but human just like the rest of us.
At dinner or a folk music concert he was just plain fun to talk to. He was well read and had a terrific memory for details, and he was funny as hell.
His departure has left a void in the lives of Joan and Becky, as well as in the peace and social justice community here in Chicago. His are going to be tough shoes to fill. At home his heart and love will be missed. I am sure, also, his shoes he left around for everyone to trip on will be missed.
I miss him not only for what he did but who he was: a kind soul with a broad smile, and a knowing voice along with being a loving family man who spoke truth to power and didn't take any shit from anyone who didn't respect the basic dignity of people.
9/9/07 at 14:01— Catherine Miller (Chicago chapter) writes:
Thank you, Bill, for being a strong leader and a kind soul. Your determination inspires me to keep fighting. The way you lived your life gives me hope. I will lean on you on hard days when change seems impossible.
I wish I had gotten to know you better. I'll wear my VVAW shirt to watch the Bears game and have a beer for you.
in peace and love,
9/9/07 at 14:13— William Von Huben writes:
Bill will be sorely missed by his fellow union members and friends. He was as friendly as he was hard working for union and veterans causes.
9/9/07 at 14:33— Brooke Anderson writes:
Joan & Becky - I've been thinking about the two of you often since I heard the news and hoping that you are surrounded by all the love and gentleness of friends, family, and comrades in this terrible moment.
Bill was one of our finest - a giant of a man, the kind our history books should contain whole chapters on. I met him probably almost a decade ago. I can't remember whether it was a cookout, standdown, demo, conference, or just kicking back at Barry's place. But over the years he befriended a whole generation of us that came up in the movement under the tutelage and friendship of VVAW and are better organizers (and people) for it.
It was was privilege to see him at the 40th one last time. His speech was brilliant, classic Bill Davis.
Blessings and love to you both and to all our VVAW friends whose hearts are hurting right now.
Bill - You lived a life and a half in your short years and though you were taken from us much too soon, we will do our best to make you proud as we carry on your work. May you finally get a some well-deserved rest after all these years. Peace to you.
9/9/07 at 15:50— Ken Dalton writes:
I never had the opportunity to meet Bill, but after reading his biography, I can honestly say that Bill will be missed by the peace and labor movements.
EN2 U.S.N. 1970-74
VVAW, New Jersey
9/9/07 at 16:47— Richard J. Tapia, VVAW writes:
I would like to say thanks Bill for being there for others. I remember Bill well because he offered me a ride back to Oak Park one day, so I could get my car after a Veteran’s Day rally in Chicago. He also offered his place if I needed to stay over night. He also offered to speak at a political forum at my church. I remember him because he seemed to be a man who cared about others, cared deeply about all veterans and the political state of affairs. He will be missed and he cannot be replaced-we will all miss him.
But in his passing, let’s also remember all the brother-veterans who continue in this struggle. We are only given short time to say thank you for all the hard work and dedication.
Richard J. Tapia
9/9/07 at 18:37— Marty Conlisk writes:
Bill bridged two worlds for me. One as an honest local union leader and Two as a vet who approached his experience with humility, not bravado. For that the world doesn't seem like such a hopeless place.
A great loss of a great man. We are all lucky to have known him. He was an educator, we should learn.
My best to the family.
9/9/07 at 20:45— Bonnie Peterson writes:
What an inspiring life of activism. Joan, thank you for your work with my girls. My heart goes out to you. Bonnie Peterson, Elmhurst
9/10/07 at 12:46— Pete Santos writes:
I knew Bill and worked with him for many years as a Union brother and fellow worker at United Parcel Service in the Chicago area. He was a hard working man for his brothers to get their fair treatment in all matters that the union had to do with but more then that Bill was always there for all that knew him whenever he was needed. He will be missed by so many whose lives he touched. Thanks Bill for all you gave to everyone in ways most don't even know aabout. My best to the family. Pete Santos, Round Lake
9/10/07 at 11:54— Harry B Meadows Jr writes:
My deepest condolences to the Davis Family. You have lost a great man and the entire nation shares your loss.
Harry B Meadows Jr.
9/10/07 at 13:26— John & Rena Kopystenski writes:
pon returning from Dewey Canyon V, our attending members of, Agent Orange Victims of New Jersey, were so much more invigorated and dedicated to restructure our somewhat "politically correct" actions based upon the teachings of Bill Davis and what we considered our "parent organization VVAW". On St. Patty's Day, the following March, we were invited to take part in the Long Branch, N.J. parade honoring the Irish of that town. We built a float which, at first sighting looked like a suburban garden, with very pretty shrubs standing on draped pedestals. The float was filled with vets in their field jackets and cammies, women and children, all waving and smiling. Just before driving past the reviewing stand, filled with politicos and notables, our float stopped and a large drape was drawn over the entire float.
As the drape was drawn back, there stood those pedestals, which were now 55 gallon drums with orange stripes, holding up dead branches, women with gas masks holding children who were lying still and "dead" in their arms and veterans wearing gas masks shooting water guns filled with orange liquid (water) at the thousands of onlookers. You could have cut the dead silence with a machete and the only sound to be heard was that of media cameras and reporters trying to capture the moment for their news viewers to later see on tv. IT WAS INCREDIBLE, IT WAS GREAT and from that moment on, AOVNJ became VVAW with no one ever being quite sure what to expect when we showed up. We made the front page of every newspaper in New Jersey that day and, to this day I still believe that Bill Davis and his love of a good "crazy vet" story was the catalyst that set John and I free to be the way we really wanted to be.
With our deepest respect,
JOHN & RENA KOPYSTENSKI
9/10/07 at 14:57— Bob Cavallo writes:
My deepest sympathy to Joan and your famly. Out here in Indiana it seems like a million miles away sometimes and I've been out of touch with most of you for a long while. It was good seeing Bill at some of the antiwar rallys I recently went to in Chicago. I saw what a consistant solid voice for peace and progress Bill was.
From the early 70's seeing Bill and VVAW to the current anti war movement,
I'm glad I knew him, there are way too few like him.
9/10/07 at 16:59— Larry Goldman writes:
I feel truly fortunate to have been a friend of Bill's for more than 30 years. A Great Friend, Father, Husband and Freedom Fighter.
My sons loved Bill and always looked forward to seeing him and talking sports, politics, music and listening to his stories, which were numerous and yet rarely repeated or at least modified so that they were great hearing again.
We Miss you Big Guy, But You will always be with us.
9/10/07 at 17:26— Roger Lautt writes:
Although I did not know Bill very well, I always looked forward to listening to his speeches because they came directly from his heart, they were so moving and I admired that about him. It just felt good to be around him, he helped me see the light and join VVAW. My condolences to Joan and Becky. He will be missed.
9/10/07 at 20:40— Annie Hirschman writes:
Bill is in so many of my memories but one of my favorites was when he came to NJ for a national meeting. Bill, Barry, Suki, Annie Bailey and John all stayed at my house. (My husband had never seen so many beers in our fridge!)
We were going to the meeting in my Toyota wagon and piled in. Absolutely the only place in the car that Bill fit was the driver's seat - so he drove with me shouting directions from the back area.
I miss Bill - we all do and will.
Love and Blessings
9/10/07 at 21:22— Jerry Keene writes:
Thank you for the link to the story about Bill Davis. Please send my condolences to his wife and family. I to was raised in West Virginia, and she was right, if you didn't have the money to go to college the military was the best ticket to improve your lot in life. I am only 22 days older than Mr. Davis, it is a real shame that the best are often taken so soon. I'm sure he will be missed by all.
Jerry D. Keene
SFC US Army (Ret.)
9/10/07 at 23:03— MIchael W. Paul writes:
I joined VVAW in 1971 when I was discharged. I never met Bill, but because of him and brave men and women like him, a great deal has been accomplished. My deepest condolences to Bill's family.
With deep respect,
Cpl, B-Batt, 2nd of the 12th Artillery
9/11/07 at 09:34— Elton Manzione writes:
I'm going to miss him.. I'll always remeber sitting at campouts with Bill and Barry downing a few as we shared thoughts and created elaborate,if somehwhat unlikely, scenarios .
And Im still grateful to him and Joan for the hospitality they showed the "Southern Contingent" on our forays to campouts.
Joan please know our thuoghts adn prayers are with you.
9/11/07 at 11:54— Dennis Boyer writes:
Rest, Brother, we'll continue the struggle.
Dennis Boyer, Berks-Lehigh(PA) VVAW 71-74
9/11/07 at 15:01— Kathy Granata Park Avenue Hair Studio writes:
To Joan and Becky,
Bill was awsome! We loved listening to his war stories and his many adventures. I loved what a great dad he was to Becky and Josh, and he truly loved his wife. He loved the Bears and his season tickets. He started getting his hair cut at the salon when the kids
were little in the Early 80's and we were blessed to have all of you in our lives for all that time. I will truley miss Bill and Josh. They were a great team together. Bill had a great smile and a fierce mustach that i don't think any of got to trim!! I will miss him
With sadness and love Kathy
9/11/07 at 15:03— Willie Hager writes:
Thanks, Brother, for everything...when we met again in Chicago for VVAW's 40th this past August, you're rememberances of the times that our paths crossed over the years meant the world to me. Palo Alto & lentils, San Louis Obisbo and the Last Patrol pitch, to name just a couple. You never forgot any of it, you never forgot all of us, and you damn sure never forgot the Mission!
Thanks, again, Brother...we'll all for sure never forget you, and all that you meant to the past 40 years of VVAW's incredible history, and the legacy that you leave that will now shape it's future!
Semper Fi My Friend & Brother,
USMC, I-Corps RVN, 1965-66 & 1968
VVAW Calif/Nev Coordinator 1972-1974
9/11/07 at 16:46— Eldon Grossman writes:
Someone called me at work today to tell me the news about Bill. I did not know him that well -- but knew him as an important and tireless force in the peace and justice movement. He was personally charming and funny.
His speech at the VVAW 40th anniverary celebration brought the history of VVAW to life. I say this as someone that did not experience it first hand. He will be missed.
9/11/07 at 18:48— Carol Rawert Trainer writes:
I met Bill for the first time at the VVAW 40th anniversary in Chicago. His speech was very moving and made me feel like I knew all these original VVAW warriors tha the spoke of even though I just joined VVAW last year.I only wish I had known him longer.He must have been very special based on the outpouring of heartfelt remembrances of him. My sincere sympathies go out to his family. He will be missed by many.
9/11/07 at 20:44— Stephanie Weiner, Joe Iosbaker, and Nat and Tre writes:
Our love and support go out to Joan and Becky and everybody grieving this loss. Bill made incredible and rare contributions in so many areas and over so many years. We miss him.
How about a Bill Davis Brigade at the Oct. 27 march?
9/12/07 at 10:10— Lou Fanning writes:
I have never smiled and laughed as hard in my life as I had numerous times with Bill!
Today that smile and laughter has turned to tears and sadness.
Knowing Bill was blessing in my life, a blessing is not something that one person gives another. A blessing is a meetng place, a relationship that enables people to strengthen what is whole in one another.
Bill blessed everyone he touched, I miss and love you forever brother!
9/12/07 at 10:37— Michael Gillen writes:
Though I did not have much contact with Bill over the years, we did travel to Nicaragua together with the VVAW delegaion that went there in 1986 during the contra war. Most of the group of a dozen or so was from his area, but it also included Clarence Fitch, Mike Pahios, and myself from the NJ/NY area. Bill was, of course, a strong presence during this trip, which helped, and as we toured Sandinista rehab centers, civilian and military hospitals, etc. This news has come as a shock to me, and I regret the loss of another good peron who made such an important contribution to the cause of peace and undertanding in a world of warring and ignorance. Thanks Bill, carry on... Mike
9/12/07 at 18:23— Blair Goodman writes:
He gave a life of service. We will remember.
9/13/07 at 08:34— Denis Mueller writes:
I am very sorry to hear this. My heart goes out to Joan and her
family. It was a honor to have met Bill and I promise to dedicate
my new film "Soldiers of Peace" to Bill. Bill was a rare man who
maintained a steely determination to fight the good fight but was
always a man who enjoyed life. He knew there was a difference
between being against the many injustices of the world and
carrying that around with him. There was never any inner anger
with Bill and I always felt that was one of the things that made
him unique. Peace and love to you all. Denis Mueller
9/13/07 at 08:38— Bill Drew writes:
We say words like "Good bye" and "I'll Miss You" because Bill is still with us.
Bill, I really admire how you kept up the fight all these years. You were truly the friendliest with a ready joke and a hearty laugh. You touched a lot of people. Sorry I lost touch with you over the years. My loss. You did the work of several dozen. We appreciate your numerous contributions. There will be many more like you but few will be as great.
9/13/07 at 17:22— Rachel Doliber writes:
I didn't know Mr. Davis but from what I know, he was a really great man who dedicated his life to helping others. To Mrs. Davis, and all those who are affected by this lose, my thoughts and prayers are with you, that you might find peace within this storm.
9/14/07 at 12:06— Tracy McLellan writes:
I only knew you for too short a time, and got to interview you after first meeting you at the conference. What a shock to hear you have passed over. Thanks for the many sacrifices you made, and your conscientiousness.
9/14/07 at 18:52— buzz doyle writes:
i first met bill at a chapter meeting at romos place.i was just recently discharged,paranoid, freaking out,and pretty much scared shitless, not knowing exactly wat these folks i was meeting were all about. i wasn,t even feeling comfortable enough to get myself a beer. bill got up grabbed beer set two in front of me and had one for himself. every time i saw bill i learned something wether it was a speech at an event,sitting around bullshitting or a simple silent action like this one. its a goddamn shame hes gone.
9/16/07 at 07:35— Rita Klinkhammer writes:
I look back with a smile at the times we spent together at VVAW campouts in West Bend. Bill, Joan and the kids hold a very special place in our hearts-there definitely was a very strong connection between us.
Bill is a great spirit who lives on with and through us all. He was a wonderful example-a man of principle, justice and peace.
Joan and Becky please take comfort in knowing that he is always remembered as are you 2 and Josh- a part of us all.
9/16/07 at 14:07— richard stacewicz writes:
Bill was an enormous personality who embodied the spirit of VVAW. He had a disarming sense of humor that cut deep into the heart of the war machine that runs this country. He somehow found the time and energy to speak at schools, churches and any other venue that needed to hear from vets who could "speak truth to power" while also working, representing workers, and loving his family. He will be sorely missed by all of us who had the chance to know him but his legacy can be found in a new generation of antiwar activists whom he has inspired with his words and actions. We need to carry on the struggle to end war in his name. My love and thoughts are with Joan and Becky.
9/16/07 at 14:53— Marla Watson (VVAW National Coordinator '73-75 writes:
I just went to the VVAW website to look for news regarding Saturday's big demo in DC. News of Bill's death was shocking but brought up great memories of him in the early '70s. Our times in the national office overlapped slightly but I met him earlier in Columbus. At our first meeting, I recognized him as a very good man who had a great deal of common sense and an understanding of how to reach out and relate to all kinds of people with different political beliefs. That was one of his greatest strengths, no doubt gained in the hills of West Virginia. I always admired him as an honest man with a great big heart, big sense of humor, and enormous commitment to live by his principles--plugging away day after day to spread those beliefs and do and say what is right. He did not deviate from the course he knew was true, and that can't be said about many people.
I appreciated watching the clips of Bill on YouTube, so thanks to whoever posted them.
Thanks to Joan and Becky for sharing Bill with the world. His loss is profound to so many people but none as much as you two.
Most of all, thanks to Bill -- for his life of service and for just being Bill.
9/16/07 at 15:54— Aleasha FightThePower writes:
Your memory, fight, and journey lives on.
9/17/07 at 02:32— Lisa Boucher (former editor of the Veteran) writes:
Bill always seemed so solid that it's hard to believe he's really gone. I'm honoured to have worked with him, and I'll treasure the fun we shared and the memory of his huge, gentle spirit.
9/20/07 at 01:53— Danielle Zora writes:
I just read about Dave's death and came to the site to see if there was a posting to discover Bill's death and burst into tears. I have not seen anyone from the Chicago area for 2 decades but I have tremendous respect for all the men of the house. I also have incredible respect for his continued passion. Love and condolences to his family and to his brothers that put down arms and fought for peace.
9/20/07 at 13:37— Catherine Davis Fox and Family writes:
Dear Big Brother,
While I was still growing up, your were in full stride in your fight for justice. You have been a great example to me and mine that just one person can touch the lives of so many in just one lifetime. I cannot dwell on the many years that we missed together as you were otherwise occupied in the service of others. I'm grateful for the time we shared in January and will always remember being swallowed up in that great big hug as we said goodbye for the last time.
9/20/07 at 16:10— Jim Charlton writes:
Bill was a great guy, a good friend and comrade for more than thirty years. He always made me smile. His important contributions and steadfast commitment to changing the world will surely be missed. I too will miss him, dearly. My love to Joan and Becky.
9/20/07 at 19:00— Al Hubbard writes:
I offer my sincere condolences to Joan and Becky. I want you to know that Bill will forever remain in my heart and mind as a true American Hero. Thanks for sharing him with us.
9/21/07 at 12:56— Richard A. Hassett writes:
9/26/07 at 14:34— Edward D Jenks writes:
I an a 61 year old VietNam Veteran Against The War, and a 30 year residant of Oak Park. The Chicago area movement will miss Bill Davis' voice as it misses the prophetic voice of another great Bill, Rev. Bill Hogan. I offer my sincere condolances to Bill Davis' family and friends.
9/29/07 at 11:24— Colin Neiburger writes:
I met Bill in the 1970's anti-war movement in Columbus, Ohio. He was a hero for standing against the war and from reading about his life continued to be. My condolences to his family.
9/29/07 at 17:43— Linda Cooper Berdayes writes:
I met Bill in 1971 at a VVAW demonstration in Columbus Ohio. He was recently out of the military and struggling in many ways to figure out how to forge ahead from Viet Nam. For the next 3 years we worked hard together with others in building a strong VVAW chapter in Columbus and I'll never forget when he was elected to the national office and we knew it was a new era for him and the organization.
I am so happy for him because from reading all the the wonderful tributes I realize that he lived the life he hoped for. He worked hard, he loved hard, and he laughed hard...but most of all he stood in the struggle for working people throughout the world.
It's hard for me to not just remember the young, high-spirited, and angry man I knew, but I can see that he was able to take all that anger and with the love of a wonderful family and good friends turn it into doing such good work and inspiring many.
I'm proud I knew him.
9/29/07 at 18:24— Bill Finzel writes:
Like my friend Colin Neiburger, I came to know Bill in the '70s in Columbus. At the time, I was part of the collective leaderhip of The Columbus Community Food Co-op, where Bill and other VVAW/WSO organizers came for food and other supplies for their national convention. It was while helping to coordinate the order that we became acquainted. I was deeply inspired by his strongly-held committments, including an end to an unjust war against the Vietnamese people, and the building of a just world for all of humanity. It's clear from what I have read of his life after he left Columbus that he continued to live by those committments. I too offer my condolenes to his family. He will be greatly missed by all those whose lives he touched.
9/29/07 at 20:03— Steve Abbott writes:
Even as VVAW evolved as an organization in Columbus in the 70's, Bill kept involved and kept VVAW's powerful presence relevant, forging coalitions with other peace groups. We lost touch when he moved to Chicago, but the articles covering his death show that he continued to offer a clear analysis of the link between the interests of the wealthy and our nation's repeated wading into unnecessary wars that working people end up fighting on their behalf.
I offer my condolences to his family and salute him as the patriot he was.
10/1/07 at 21:50— Gerry Kosanovic writes:
Bill Davis was the face of VVAW that brought me into the organization and schooled my thinking. I was already a Vietnam Vet, but he provided me with the ability to focus energy and channel repressed anger. VVAW stands tall in the 1970's because of people like William Hugh Davis. He was the people’s teacher. I remember his wonderful circular laugh, the decency, the down-to-earth beer drinking party animal, and a friendly, sociable friend that loved integrity and hated injustice. I remember facing police on horseback at a demo in Washington, DC with Bill and his comment to all within earshot as we stood our ground: “I’ve never had anything against a horse.” That, like Bill’s memory, sticks. Bill, may your spirit live on and on………
10/10/07 at 23:49— Richard Berg writes:
I had only turned 18 a bit earlier. But here I was three states away with a bunch a Vietnam veterans about to protest the building of the gym in Kent, Ohio. The governor had threatened to arrest us all! My parents would kill me. I was supposed to be studying . I was the first kid to go to college in generations.
Was I scared? Damn right! That is when I met Bill Davis. It is hard to describe. He was happy, go lucky, but deadly serious about what we were about to do. Shortly after that the Ohio State Police launched tear gas at us. Our friendship only grew from there.
He was a little older and barely tolerated my support of the Green Bay Packers. We would see each other at protests against U.S. foreign policy. We followed each others progress in the labor movement.
The last time I saw him was at the big march on May Day, the International workers holiday. We were there to support our sisters and brothers in the immigrant rights movement. We laughed and told jokes at the labor feeder rally at Haymarket Square. Decades later and it is just like the day I met him, he was happy go lucky, but deadly serious about what we were about to do.
I loved him and will miss him. He was a great comrade.
10/27/07 at 02:45— K'De Lecy writes:
Honor the warrior not the war
11/5/07 at 01:08— Tim Andruss writes:
We have read the outpouring of love, respect, admiration and the sense of loss expressed by seemingly all who crossed Bill’s path, and we share those feelings. So much history revealed in these notes. I met Bill and VVAW at the “Welcome Home” march in Chicago and new I had found my friends.
I am honored for those times we shared the banner, the podium, or the campfire. We would have loved more Memorial Days and Stand-downs, Campouts and New Years Eves but we’ll find solace in the memory of all those times we did gather. Bill was a guy who made our lives better just knowing he was out there. A pillar of strength, humility, and endless humor.
Joan and Becky, we loved your Bill. May you, and all those that called him a friend, be sustained by the body of work that was his substantial and meaningful life. All our love to you. Tim and Alenka
11/13/07 at 22:55— Jack Shelton writes:
I am one of the few here who never met Bill, but from reading a lot of the postings here I feel I missed a really great man. I was aboard a destroyer escort in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1973. I will never forget the voice of our captain as we were retuning home. We would not receive a Vietnam Service campaign ribbon since our mission was classified. I never really missed it, but our government can spend $10 billion a month for war, yet it has to charge veterans, even the unemployed, a co-pay even though their promise was free health care.
11/16/07 at 16:59— William Page writes:
We have lost a great American patriot, My condolences to his family and friends
11/27/07 at 12:15— Ashley Lewis writes:
I pray that God will Bless all of the lives of the veterens abundantly.
12/2/07 at 16:58— richard g mcconchie(rich) writes:
I just today joined VVAW and I am so sorry that I waited all these years to do it. I am a long time member of VFP, but never joined the organization dedicated against the war I fought. I have of course never met Bill but I'm sure we could have been friends-we speak the same language. My sincere condolences to his family and his many, many friends. I hope to be an active member and to meet many of you somewhere. Maybe in March in D.C.for the IVAW rally to speak truth to power again. Peace and Love.
12/9/07 at 12:32— Tom O'Brien writes:
I am a high school teacher and I came upon this page while doing research for a Vietnam War assignment. I was shocked to see a picture of Bill Davis, who I knew not as a Vietnam War vet but a volunteer for Oak Park Youth Baseball. I never knew about his activism, but it doesn't surprise me-- a great guy who was willing to put in a lot of time and effort to help others.
2/10/08 at 16:55— Ken Furem writes:
I'm sorry I didn't hear about this till now, I could tell you what a great guy Bill was, but people have already said it better than I can. During the days of "ideological purity", Bill was one of the people who could keep his sense of humor and see the people side of things. Another warrior to Vahalla...
2/27/08 at 08:54— JOSEPH C. MORRIS writes:
I JUST READ ALL OF THESE TRIBUTES TO A FINE MAN ONLY FEEL I KNOW HIM ALREADY AS MY BROTHER WHICH ALL VIET VETS ARE VIETNAM VETS ARE FADING AWAY BUT NOT IN MY HEART
7/15/08 at 17:05— Steve Swift writes:
What else can one say?
I met Bill decades ago. He was then and remained to the end passionate about the fight for freedom. Humor, strength, vision. It was always clear which side he stood with.
12/17/08 at 21:03— Scott Grigoletto writes:
By no means am I a veteran or even met Mr Bill Davis. However is wife Joan Davis is the current teacher in high school of my Vietnam History class. I have heard greatly of Bill Davis. He and his wife by their actions have inspired me to become a strong anti-war activist. I have great appreciation in my heart as a student to such a great teacher and to have heard of his such great deeds to mankind.
9/10/13 at 14:57— Paul Lenart writes:
I was proud to have worked with VVAW in the mid-70's in Oregon. It is unfortunate that the ageing and loss of a generation will contribute to America's recurring amnesia problem.