Long-time area broadcaster and DJ Willian G. "Bill" Beckwith, 65, passed away Tuesday, September 5, 2017, at home after a courageous battle with cancer.
He was born October 14, 1951, in Williamsburg, the son of Kenneth Pete and Margaret (Dean) Beckwith, and was a 1969 graduate of Elk Rapids High School. Bill then graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.A. degree in Broadcasting.
One of the lucky ones, Bill was able to live out his passion for music and sports, working as a radio DJ and sports broadcaster, a job he had dreamed of as a child. Bill came into our hearts and lives every day, first as the morning drive DJ for WBRN starting in the early 1970s, and later as Big Country Bill at WWBR. He was voted the areas favorite radio DJ many times over, entertaining many of us at events, dances, and weddings.
As a talented play by play sports broadcaster, Bill lent his voice to high school sports for over 40 years. He was the voice of Ferris Hockey for many years, as well as their football and basketball teams. Later in life he decided to view his beloved sports from a different perspective and became a MHSAA Official, working many sports for high school, community, and youth for over 15 years. He was active in Big Rapids Little League, serving as a coach and on the board of directors, and was inducted into the Mecosta County Hall of Sports in 2009.
As a child, Bill had contracted polio, and as a teenager he touched the lives of handicapped kids as he served as a "Teenaider" at Camp Roy-El, the camp he had attended as a child. From an early age, Bill was passionate about all types of music. He enjoyed attending life music events, concerts, and the Wheatland Festival, and will be remembered for his harmonica performances at Open Mic Night at the Sawmill Salon. His parents inspired in him a love for Tiger baseball. Bill retired in November of 2015 hoping for a simple life of enjoying family, friends, golf, music and travel. It was not to be as Bill was diagnosed with brain cancer in January of 2016.
Bill will be dearly missed by his loving companion of 12 years, Julie (nee Yost) Swenson; his four children whom he loved very much, Erin (Marty) Sullivan, Ben (Carolyn), Matt, and Luke (Alicia) Beckwith; 9 grandchildren, Lauren, Amelia, Hailey, Grace, Leif, Belle, Noah, Jason, and Riley; a sister, Carol (Jim) Hockin; his brother, Milton "Cap" (Sandy) Beckwith; his former wife, Adriana (nee Patrick) Beckwith; his aunt Pat Beckwith; and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
Funeral services will be 11:00 a.m., Friday, September 8, 2017, at the Mohnke Funeral Home in Big Rapids. Bill will be laid to rest with his parents at Circle Hill Cemetery near Williamsburg. Bill's family will greet friends from 4-7:00 p.m., Thursday, September 7, 2017, and prior to services on Friday. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to the Big Rapids Little League, with envelopes available at the funeral home.