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William A. McCoy
(July 19, 1922 - March 21, 2014)

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William A. McCoy

William A. McCoy

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Family and friends take comfort in knowing that he is at long last in heaven with God and his dear wife, loving family and friends who have gone before him. He attended Immaculate Grade School, Seattle Preparatory High School and Seattle University, where he received a degree in Chemical Engineering. He spent his formative years on 23rd and Cherry with his mother Helen Alice Doyle and sister Mary McCoy, cementing the Seattle roots his family planted in 1889.

After two years of college, Bill entered the Navy. On a dark night in the South Pacific during World War II, Bill waited while the warplanes flew overhead. They knew they were sitting ducks as a moonbeam lit the ship below. Just as the plane arrived, a large cloud moved across the moon, hiding the ship. The USS Foote made it safely through the night. Bill told stories of a Kamikaze plane striking the USS Foote. It did not destroy the ship but lifted it out of the water, the force of the blow landing Bill in the gun well under debris. It was obvious that God had great plans for Bill, as he survived rogue waves, invasions, and typhoons. Bill trained as a signalman in Farragut, Idaho. He used flags to communicate with other ships. He received the message, “Cease present operations. War over.” They pulled up anchor and Bill came home.

After the war, Bill finished college and married the love of his life, Madeline Genevieve. They immediately set out for Richland where Bill worked for the next five years at the Hanford Nuclear Site. His job was to discover how dangerous working with chemicals and radiation would be to the human body. He was instrumental in developing a radiation detection card, the predecessor to the radiation badges of today. Finally returning to his roots, Bill settled in Seattle. For the next thirty years he worked at the Boeing Company in the Quality Control Laboratory. He participated in the creation of the fuel used to bring the lunar lander, with Neil Armstrong aboard, back from the Moon. The work he completed required immense bravery and skill. He was an expert in his field, analyzing everything from components of Air Force One and the space shuttle.

These years were also spent nurturing four children. His parenting style reflected his fun-loving and larger than life personality. He mentored young people with a loving concern and a comforting soul. You can’t help but smile when you reflect on the adventures you had with Bill. Learning to drive with Dad, chasing him up mountains, and marveling at his gift of gab were some of the highlights of our childhood with him. He was the biggest kid of all. His son Mike fondly recalls a time he was stopped by the police and told to keep his dad inside the car because it is unsafe to stick your head out of the sunroof of a Corvette. His zest for life was perhaps bolstered by his enjoyment of See’s candy and white chocolate mochas. The next generation of children enjoyed his same wisdom and antics and could always rely on grandpa.

The love he possessed is reflected in his passion for service to the community. Bill volunteered many hours at the St. Francis House, St. Vincent DePaul, the Carmelite Monastery and St. Bridget’s Parish. He also followed in the footsteps of his father, working as a volunteer firefighter. His Catholic faith was the foundation of his life. He rarely spoke of his volunteering, exemplifying the Biblical image of a selfless servant.

Bill began jogging before it was popular and was always ahead of the pack with a new health remedy that he did not hesitate to tell everyone about. He was even approached by the Seattle police department, wondering why he was running through the neighborhood. His self-proclaimed shifty-eyes and low-cut forehead alerted them of his suspicious activity. Bill hiked twenty miles in the Grand Canyon at the age of 77 and was forced to quit skiing at the age of 82. He worked clearing trails for the Washington Trail Association, where interestingly enough his nickname was “Wild Bill.”

Between the many moments of groundbreaking science and courage, Bill found time to perfect his one-liners. These witty quips will live on through the generations. He had a million of ‘em. His repertoire included, “I wish I had been born rich instead of so good-looking,” “no brains no headaches,” “she chases bears with a switch,” and this kindly reminder: “Please do not put your cigarette butts in the toilet. It makes them soggy and hard to light.” Bill never came quietly into any room. He burst in with energy and possessed an ability to make everyone feel important. This was his gift.

Bill entered this world as a dynamic, spirited, intelligent, and loving individual and remained that way his entire life. The strength of his spirit and his tendency to move mountains made his love stronger and his life rich and meaningful. He was truly remarkable in every sense of the word.

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” -R. Tagore

The McCoy family would like to express their gratitude to Professional Case Management for the loving care they provided Bill during the last year of his life. A special thank you to Flura, Susan, Sosana, Mary, Yance, Cindy, and Wallie. Also they acknowledge Providence Hospice of Seattle; most especially Rosie, the "Bath Lady".


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