From the Digest

Bill Cordes Remembered

By Kathy Malon (March 2005)

Our friend Bill Cordes passed away February 23, 2005. He is survived by his mother, brother, sister, brother-in-law, and nieces, nephews and cousins. His father passed away at Christmas. Bill was a Vietnam War veteran who was at the V.A. hospital when he died from liver cancer and liver failure. If anyone would care to make a donation, the family requested that donations be made to the American Cancer Society. Bill was 59.

The above information came from the newspaper obituary. But it gives only the bare bones of Bill’s life. Bill Cordes was a man with many interests and many, many friends. He made many of those friends while working with Growing American Youth, a St. Louis support group for gay and lesbian youths. He became involved shortly after the group’s founding in 1979 and stayed with it for nearly 20 years. Bill also owned an alternative lifestyle bookstore.

Bill was interested in all sorts of things. St. Louis history. Transportation. Books. Zeppelins. Streetcars – he loved streetcars! He volunteered at the Museum of Transportation and also worked there. He was thrilled to operate the museum’s old streetcar. He published a book about streetcars last year.

Bill also worked in the printing trade. He did the program for the CSSA convention hosted by HSCSS in 2003. That program sort of “set the standard” for conferences. He had health problems at the time, but you’d never know to look at his work. Even the CSSA was impressed.

He also loved plants. He worked at Shaw’s Garden for a time, and the plants in the gift shop never looked better. Bill generously hosted the club picnic one year, allowing us to see his collection. He was also vice president of the club and helped with the show and conferences.

Bill did the Digest mailing for a few years while I was editor. There were times when, due to my procrastination, we’d get together to do the mailing and start talking. I’d intend to stay an hour but usually wound up staying for three or four. We talked about all sorts of things, everything from volunteer work to books to cars to printing.

We were working on a mailing when he discovered he had cancer the first time. He hadn’t been feeling very well. He said, “Well, at least now I know what’s wrong with me.”

That was Bill. Upbeat. Positive. He’ll be much missed, not only but our group, but by many, many others. RIP, Bill.