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.Print This Obituary & Condolences