Bill, R.I.P.

Bill, 1974 (photo © Lawrence Hathaway)

My dear friend Bill Wertz passed away on August 3 or the preceding evening.  His sister gives this account on Bill’s old Facebook page:

To all my brother’s friends, I apologize for notifying you by Facebook, but I do not have anyone’s phone numbers to call them directly. My brother passed away in his sleep sometime yesterday night or this morning. But in true Wertz fashion, it was not without drama. His good friends, Jim and JC, had not seen him and couldn’t reach him by phone and he wasn’t answering his door. They contacted his dear friend, Randy, who came down, and me as well. Bill’s door was locked with at least 5 deadbolts and no one had a key. It took some strong arms and a prybar to get the door off the hinges. Randy went in first with me behind him. Randy said Bill was laying on his bed and had the most peaceful look on his face, and his hands were crossed across his chest like an Egyptian Pharaoh. The paramedics were called who pronounced him deceased, and then the police and later the Coroner. My plan as of now, will be to contact the VA tomorrow and see what they can do. Cremation I believe would be Bill’s wishes. Right now, I don’t know which way is up, so things may change, or I could wake up from this nightmare and he would still be with us…As we watched the Coroner’s van drive off, it was twilight and Randy remarked, look, there’s the Blimp. And sure enough, the Goodyear Blimp was flying across the sky. We all decided the Blimp was taking his soul to heaven. Love you Big Brother

Nancy, Bill’s sister, also posts this picture inside his studio that day:

Bill’s Studio post-passing (photographer unknown)


Some of my portraits of Bill are collected on this page of this site. You can also see Bill’s Facebook page for some of his work (and I am proud to note that he posted many photographs that I had made of him, especially early on in our friendship, there as well).

And … in a pretty much breathtaking coincidence, I just realized that the other day — August 3, to be exact — I posted this old rediscovered photograph  I had made in December 1976 of Bill on a windy day in Death Valley …

Also — speaking of the Goodyear blimp mentioned in Nancy’s account — here is a pic I made of Bill in Long Beach around 1975, watching the Long Beach Gran Prix.