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Priest’s Death Evokes Fond Reader Memories

Friday December 12, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Father Bill and I drove together to get arrested at a Presidio Housing takeover, and I recited a song I’d just written about unconditional love. 

‘You should enroll in the seminary,” he said. 

“I thought they didn’t take women?” I asked. 

“They will someday,” he replied. I told him I didn’t believe in God, and that that might be considered a problem. 

“That doesn’t matter,” he responded. “You’d be perfect.” I think we laughed the rest of the way. And saved the housing. 

Carol Denney 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

When I saw the front of your paper the other day my heart sank and I immediately felt a great loss upon thinking of not being able to see Father Bill at the next protest, or trying to catch him at St. Joseph’s when he wasn’t napping. I thought about how one of the last times I saw him was at St. Joseph’s, and how for once he wasn’t wearing his collar and the infamous black jacket, but a simple black t-shirt with “troublemaker” across the front. I also thought about how he was kicked out of Berkeley Bowl last June after I asked him to come down and help encourage Berkeley Bowl workers to form a union. It didn’t take long for management to catch on to him, and he was kicked out of the store that day and told to take his “commie shit” elsewhere. 

But of course we all loved Father Bill for stuff like this, and in true Irish tradition we can’t let ourselves mourn his death for too long, but rather focus on his amazing life and seek to continue to struggle for the things he held dear. I was reminded of this tonight as I went to a rally he would have attended, in support of workers’ rights, had he not passed away on Monday. A friend in the labor community said that the last time she talked to him he asked her when she was going to organize an action at a local Safeway in support of the Southern California grocery workers. So as we celebrate Father Bill’s life in the coming days, let’s make damn sure to continue to fight the bastards he always fought so hard against, and not let Father Bill’s passion for peace and justice die with his body. I think that he would have it no other way. 

Chuck McNally 

Fired Berkeley Bowl Worker and Irish Catholic