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MACEN, Bill (William)

MACEN, Bill (William)

October 19, 1924

August 20, 2013

Bill died peacefully on August 20, 2013 at the Chinook Hospice in Calgary. He is survived by his loving wife of 28 years, Eva (nee Morrissette), son Richard (Lynn), daughter Joanne (also known as Jaeun), sister Margaret (Don), nephew Duane, niece Jacqui, great niece Sarah, great nephew Jarel, and great-great niece Jada. He was predeceased by his infant son Robert in 1963.

Bill’s father Peter had immigrated to Canada from Austria and changed his name from Macenko to Macen in an effort to sound more Canadian, and had met and married Mary (Grekul) in Two Hills Alberta.  He opened a restaurant in Vancouver BC where Bill was born.  When Bill was very young, his family moved to Calgary Alberta, for his mother’s health.  Shortly thereafter, his mother was diagnosed with TB and was placed in the sanatorium.  Bill was sent to live with his maternal grandparents on their farm in Two Hills, Alberta.  He had many fond memories of growing up on the farm with his Ukrainian grandparents who were real pioneers.  When he started school, he could not speak a word of English, but learned quickly.  When his mother was well enough to go home, Bill moved back to Calgary to be re-united with his parents.  This was short-lived as his mother became ill again.  Bill was moved to live with another family, as his father owned and operated a store and was unable to care for a young boy.  For one reason or another, the living arrangements for Bill were short-lived, and he was moved from family to family.  Eventually, his father grew exasperated with this, and took Bill to live with him in the store.  One Christmas, his father bought Bill an accordion.  Bill was initially very disappointed, but when he father arranged for an accordion teacher to come to the house and play the accordion for Bill, he was hooked, and it changed his life forever.

Bill started taking music lessons on the accordion from Laurence Eidland in Calgary when he was 7.  At that time he had no idea that playing the accordion would be something that he would do for the rest of his life.  At about age 8 or 9 he started playing in vaudeville (in those days people enjoyed live music).  By the time he was 17, he was playing professionally as a soloist.  At that time, the war was on.  A pianist by the name of Jac Friedenberg asked him if he would take on a few accordion students at his studio.  Bill had never taught before, but Jac helped to get him started in teaching.  A concert pianist by the name of Kuzinski from the London Conservatory in England was in Calgary for his health and to be with his daughter.  He gave Bill lessons in harmony.  Bill’s father encouraged him to open up his own studio which was located downtown where Olympic park is now, on 8th Avenue.  In the same building Robert Hooper had a music studio and he helped Bill do the Trinity College harmony etc.  Although his first love was playing and performing in public, he gradually started to lean more and more towards teaching.  He had been teaching ever since, and had never stopped playing.  Bill earned accreditation as a ‘Registered Music Teacher’ (RMT), and was awarded a Long Service Award and Certificate of Honor from the Alberta Registered Music Teachers Association (ARMTA) in 1993 for recognition of his 40+ years of service.  He has taught hundreds of students over the years.  Some went on to become professional musicians and music teachers.  Many won awards at various competitions such as Kiwanis Music Festivals, Kimberley International Old Time Accordion Championships (KIOTAC), etc.  What kept him teaching was the joy of watching his students develop their abilities.  To him, a student was like a gem in the rough – not much to look at, but cut it and polish it, and you have something beautiful.  He felt that no matter what success a student reaches in music, it always gives them a sense of pleasure and awareness that will enrich their lives.  It gave Bill great pleasure to think that he was a part of that.

As a young man, Bill worked briefly as: an usher in the Capitol theatre; in the lab at Imperial Oil testing octane levels in gasoline; at CPR driving steam engines into the Ogden shops and stoking steam engines on short trips around Calgary; and at a ship yard in Vancouver.

Bill married Sally Senger in 1955 and they were blessed with 3 children, Robert William (who died shortly after birth), Richard Peter, and Joanne Leslie.  They later divorced and Bill eventually remarried, to Eva in 1985.  They remained married right up to his passing.

Bill joined AA on July 29, 1973, and had been an active member ever since.  This year he was awarded his 40th year medallion.  He co-founded the Grey Sheep group and had been a regular member at their weekly Wednesday night meetings.  He credited this organization with saving his life, and has helped many members with the program.

Bill had many interests besides his passion for music.  He loved building and flying model radio-controlled airplanes.  He would often stay up all night building a model, as he could not tear himself away from it.  Fly-fishing was his real passion.  It was his form of meditation.  He loved to fish the Bow River and a number of stocked lakes near Calgary, as well as several streams and lakes in BC when on vacation.  Bill loved sports cars.  He owned several over the years, but his pride and joy was his 1989 Toyota Supra.  It gave him great pleasure driving it.  Bill was a very spiritual person, whose interests included Zen Buddhism, nature, quantum physics, natural health, martial arts, and other subjects.  He passed these interests to both his children.  His daughter Joanne studied Buddhism in Korea and is now a Buddhist nun known as Jaeun, and his son Richard has a passion for both music and spirituality.  Bill was very artistic, often sketching landscapes or objects on scraps of paper or wood.  He never received any formal artistic training, but he was a natural.  Bill was also a great storyteller.  One could listen to the same stories over and over and never tire of them.  They were always told with great enthusiasm and embellishment.  Bill was a classy guy, and dressed well.  He was a natural born teacher, not only of music, but of many other subjects.  One of his favorite subjects for teaching was awareness.

Bill embraced life with a determined spirit, sense of humour, and pride in everything he did. As a husband, a brother, a father, a mentor and teacher, his life has impacted many and he will be deeply missed.

Cremation has taken place, with a private service.  A Celebration of Bill’s Life will be held on Saturday September 21 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the Austrian Club, 3112 – 11 Street NE in the Main Hall.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a charity of one’s choice.

In living memory of Bill, a tree will be planted at Big Hill Springs Park Cochrane by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH, Telephone: 403-276-2296.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Reba and Teena Bauhuis :

    We were so sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. Each week it was such a pleasure to see him after his lesson to Reba. Not only was he the best teacher, he was also a dear friend that we became very close with.
    He will be truly missed.

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  2. Dear Eva, Joanne and Richard

    We are so sad that Bill has passed, he was an amazing man who touched the lives of many!
    He will be remembered always for his humour, his story telling, his music, and his unconditional help for those that needed him. He will be deeply missed

    Love Adele, Carlos, Ryan, Steve, Andrea and kids, Alicia, Chirs and kids

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  3. I am sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. He was not only my music teacher but also a friend. He was a great music teacher, an even greater musician. My condolences to his family.

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  4. Like so many of us who are friends of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob, I met Bill Macen when I was at a very difficult time in my life. I had just moved to Calgary from Ontario and was starting my life over in a new place with no connections to my support system other than the knowledge that there were places I could go and find people like me.
    One of these places was the Grey Sheep group and it was there I met Bill. He saw right away I was struggling to hold on in my new surroundings and reached out to me. That was Bill’s way, he would reach out to you and ask if you were doing OK and would take a genuine interest in your life. He was there week after week and would always ask if I was getting along OK and would take time to talk with me.
    The years went along and Bill continued to do this for so many new guys coming into the room on the Wednesday evenings and I grew to look at him as sort of an adopted father. I did this because I saw in him the way of life that was promised to me if I just followed the road laid out in front of me. The road I saw Bill walking every week, the road to self-discovery.
    Bill Macen will be greatly missed, fondly remembered and often quoted in our Grey Sheep Wednesday evenings for a very, very long time to come.

    With love and respect always Bill,

    Brian Finner.

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  5. Brent & Emma Fleck :

    Sincere Condolences to Bill’s family. Bill will be missed very much.

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  6. Gail E Grekul :

    Bill was my first cousin. His mother Mary and my Father Michael Grekul (deceased 1982) were sister and brother. My last visit with Bill and Eva, was several years ago, on Ukrainian Christmas Eve. It was such a special time, because we were able to bring together some of our family…..My brother Ed Grekul, and wife Shirley from Edmonton, as well as my cousin Allan Soldan and wife Heather, from Two Hills. We were able to call Allan’s mother Margaret Soldan, in Two Hills, AB (Bill’s Auntie and mother Mary’s sister)…..What a special call it was. We will always remember this “Family Reunion”. Our deepest condolences to the Macen Family.

    Gail Grekul(Anderson), Randy Anderson and the Grekul Family

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  7. Penny Sanborn :

    I am very sad about Bill. He started out as my accordion teacher, but soon became my friend also, and really, an inspiration for life, for myself and so many other people. He was always in tune with life in general. He seemed to be a guide for so many of us, that it feels strange not to have him around now… It is difficult for us without him here, but I believe that he must have known it was his time. He will now be where he should be, at this moment.

    Bill had a certain personality that he really took to you or not, and if he did, then did he ever. As a music teacher, he would become involved not only in his students’ music, but in our lives in general, and never held back on telling us his opinions! Whether it was food we should eat, or people we should hang around… It was his way of showing he cared, and really, when it came down to it, he would have done anything at all to help out any member of his family or close friends. What more can we ask for?

    On top of being such a loyal friend, he was a really excellent music teacher. Especially for the fact that he would tune into each students’ personality & work with music & techniques to suit that person. He would never tire of spending hours working on a single detail of how to make one part of a song sound just right… A real perfectionist, and that it why he was so great. For me, he was really the person that inspired me to pursue music seriously, and I will be forever grateful for that. The music will be a lifelong journey to enjoy now, even though it will be difficult not to be able to share it with him…

    I will miss him very much, but can feel that he will always be around in positive spirit, shining light on life for all of us.

    All the best to his family: Eva, Joanne & Richard,

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  8. Harry Patrick :

    My thoughts and prayers are with Bill’s Family. I first met “Gentle” Bill 30 years ago. God Love him.

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  9. John Brabec & Family :

    We were very sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. He was a great accordion teacher and a legend in my mind. His stories of where he played the accordion, the type of music he played and the musicians he encountered were always captivaiting, and had in them important life lessons. I loved spending time with him and learning music through him. He had an amazing touch on the accordion and was so knowledgeable of the whole instrument.
    He is a great teacher and friend and we will miss him greatly.

    Love Always, John, Anita, Sophia, Conrad, Moses and Rose Brabec

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  11. Jake Bourrier :

    Bill will be missed by all that knew him. He touched many lives. I met Bill through the Grey Sheep and he was and always will be a pillar of the group. His wisdom and sense of humor was second to none. Bill will always be with the group, his stories etched in our lives forever. Condolences to Eva, Rick and Joanne.
    Sincerely ,
    Jake & Linda

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  12. Murray Peterson :

    I started to take music lessons from Bill in 1952 when I was 12 years old. I quit lessons in 1954, resumed lessons in the 1960’s for several years and quit once more. In the late 1990’s I went back to take lessons and took lessons until his passing. Looking back over the last 60 years Bill has evolved into a great music teacher and friend. Bill will be missed. He was a great friend.

    Murray and Barb Peterson

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  13. Ken and Virginia Attridge :

    Our condolences to Rick and families.So sorry to hear of Bills passing.

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  14. Let me echo the praise that Bill rightfully received from all of us at the Grey Sheep. He was a rock and an inspiration to us all. My thoughts will be with you on the 21st of September, but I am unable to attend the memorial service and celebration of his life, as my sister is getting married that day in Edmonton.

    Neil Webb

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  15. Jenny (Andersen) McLaren :

    Saddened to hear of the passing of my first music teacher, and my accordion teacher for eight years.
    I know that Bill is one of the major reasons I went into music, and I still believe he’s had more influence on my teaching style with my own music students than anyone else. He emphasized quality over quantity – he took time with a song and its details, rather than pushing his students simply to rush through repertoire to “progress”. He treated each song as a journey and an experience, mining all the technical and artistic potential out of it, making us feel as though we’d truly accomplished a work of art. I mainly remember him trying to explain what he called “IT” – that undefinable quality that made a song, and a musician, ring true with emotion. He said he couldn’t teach “IT”, it was something we just had to feel.
    Bill, I’m sorry I didn’t become the accordion virtuoso you wanted me to be. However, you gave me something much, much more valuable as a performer and person. You took a shy little kid with depths of feeling so big that they couldn’t be expressed through words…and let them soar through music.
    You helped me find IT.
    All my love to Eva and to Bill’s family.

    -Jenny (Andersen) McLaren and the Andersen family

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  16. Dear Eva.
    It was a pleasure to know Bill and You. It started more than four years ago. He was my son’s Music teacher. And after that he became like his grand father. He loved my son and saw so much potential in him. Thank You for being in our life.
    We are going to miss You.

    The Prajzler family.

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  17. Bill will always be remembered for the great artist that he was and the dedicated teacher he became. He will also be remembered as the father of our beautiful children, Richard and Joanne, and though we later went our separate ways, we always remained good friends.
    My heartfelt condolences to Eva, Richard and Joanne and hope they will remain strong during this trying time.

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  18. My condolences to Bill’s loved ones. Bill was a good man and his spirit will be with many of us for a long time. I am grateful for the help Bill gave me. He is in my prayers.

    Bryan Boyer

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  19. Darlene Abbott :

    I met Bill after attending the Kimberley Accordion festival where someone encouraged me to seek out the Macen Accordion Studio on Centre street. I am so glad that I did this and had the opportunity to have Bill in my life. I ended up taking lessons from him for nearly 12 years. He knew how to push you to your “best” and although I felt a bit intimidated at times I did learn SO much from him. We also shared stories about our mutual Ukrainian heritage and our families, his commitment and devoution to his students was exemplary. Bill was a master teacher, a mentor and a dear friend to me – I will miss him dearly. Rest in peace Bill.
    My sincere condolences to Eva, Richard and Joanne.

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  20. I am grateful and fortunate to have been impacted by Bill and his unique style for just over 14 years now. In this time together, I saw that he was timeless, honest, accountable, loyal, humble and yet bold. In addition, he was somehow able to remain completely unselfish.

    I will remember him as a friend, a father figure, a grey sheep, a legend, an example, a giver, a character and above all “a gentleman”!

    May God continue to bless his awesome family (that he also managed to share).

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  21. Ernie Distefano & Luba Omasheva :

    Our deepest condolences to Eva, Richard, and Joanne. I will miss Bill very much. Love Ernie and Luba

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  22. Ernie Distefano & Luba Omasheva :

    Our deepest condolences Eva, Richard, and Joanne. I met Bill in 1957 when I started taking lessons from him on 8 Ave. Mall. I learned so much from him through the lessons I took and even after 56 years I still have the opportunity to apply such small but important details to a couple of students I attempted to teach English while here in Kazakhstan the last 7 years. Meticulous is one word I would describe Bill similar to myself, that’s why I enjoyed spending time and conversing with Bill; exchanging stories with while having coffee. I will miss him very much. Love Ernie and Luba.

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