William Lee Sullivan
“Known to us as Billy”
Saturday October 9th
Memorial thoughts offered by Caleb Wilsey
In 1944, Billy was born in West Seattle to LeMerne and William Sullivan.
He and his family moved to Stehekin in 1955 after his dad, William, bought the café and White House at the Stehekin Landing from Curt and Beryl Courtney. Billy attended the one-room Stehekin school where his teacher, Lloyd Bell noted that he was a particularly mischievous student. Which I am sure is a surprise to most of us here! He graduated from 8th Grade in ’58.
From an early age, Billy worked with Guy Imus in the horse packing business. Indeed, he held several jobs within the Stehekin community. Those with long memories may even remember his involvement in the Silver Bay dredging project that created the Silver Bay Spit, and I can only imagine the tales he would’ve told from behind the wheel of the Stehekin Taxi.
Billy married Kathleen Bird in 1966, and in 1969 Zen Troy Sullivan was born. Around 1970 Billy and Zen moved to Fall City Washington to work for the Weyerhaeuser logging company.
Billy, Zen, and Billy’s father William loved prospecting for Gold. The only real profit they found was setting up a booth about gold panning at a local bazaar and selling gold pans.
Billy eventually changed careers and became a night security guard in the Seattle area. This career allowed Billy to pursue his passion in photography. He moved into his dodge caravan, and immediately after a night’s work he would chase the morning scenery that needed to be preserved through the lens of a camera. He then parked and slept in his van during the day, ready for the next work night and morning adventure. Billy used to say he would get to where he was going just in time to catch the best morning light and wake up in time to catch the best evening light. “Boy oh Boy”
Billy loved Rainer National Park and photographed every trail there, manmade or not. Around 2004 Billy moved back to Stehekin to photograph his childhood home.
He hiked the trails with his camera taking pictures, and often spending a week at a time to get the pictures that best captured the beauty of each adventure. Later on, after reuniting with his childhood friend Malcolm Keithley, Billy discovered moving pictures. This inspired him to re-hike all the trails taking videos, and eventually doing time lapse videos.
Billy spent countless hours researching and archiving photographic and written history of the Stehekin Valley. He was well known for his passion of preserving history and capturing it in the moment. Billy loved his pictures and loved to share his work, free of charge, so others could enjoy them. Malcolm Keithley produced a video of Billy’s work in the North Cascades called “Stehekin” the way through. We have it playing on a screen in the house
We also have copies of the video placed near the picture board inside which you may take, free of charge, just how Billy would have it.
Billy attended the Stehekin Church and an active community member.
Billy was preceded in Death by his father William, son Zen, mother LeMerne, and sister Betty.
Billy passed from this life on June 6th, 2021.
One of the lines used in the video was Billy saying that Stehekin seemed to collect character’s, there is now doubt that Billy is one of those iconic characters. He was never lacking for something to say!
We all miss you Billy.