William Ward Yeo
May 28, 1939 – December 17, 2011
The last trip we made together with our Border Collie Rain, we saw Jasper in the sunshine of September.
We headed for Edmonton the next morning, but our Sprinter camper van, affectionately known as Benny, coasted to a dead stop right in front of an automotive repair shop. Bill got out and talked to the mechanics as he always talked to everyone he met — with respect for what they did. They got us back on the Yellowhead Highway heading east, across a Prairie so beautiful in early fall. One could see 17 miles in all directions, or so Bill told me, and it was like flying in a small aircraft.
The cancer had returned but once again Bill would not allow it to conquer him and we continued on our journey to Saskatoon. Earlier, his good friend and physician Dr. Ron Reznick, poised at the starting line of the most arduous leg of the Tour de France, had written ‘Bill’ on the calf of his leg in ballpoint pen. Bill had told him, “Ronny, you can do it.” It had become his mantra too.
We returned home to Salt Spring Island from Saskatchewan just before Bill began to feel ill again. Always a fighter, he never gave up or gave in. Bill, now on the most adventurous journey of all, would still provide that gentle guidance as he always had, along with steadfast encouragement for all of us that loved him to move forward.
Although not a religious man, Bill was a very spiritual one who saw the wonderment in everything nature could provide. “His life was gentle, and the elements, so mixed in that nature might stand up and say to the entire world: ‘This was a man!’” William Shakespeare.
New found friends visiting Salt Spring Island for the first time from Brittany described the home that Bill built this way. “The organic nature of your home reflected the creative life-harmony that was the product of a gentle heart and a sensitive mind. A kindness reflected in the fact, that while we were with you, an injured deer had recognized your home as a sanctuary for it too at it’s time of need.”
It was once said that if Bill Yeo couldn’t build it, then it couldn’t be built.
As I write this and think of the mark that my husband left on the world, I realize it cannot be measured or quantified. His true gift was having the foresight to see in people what they couldn’t see in themselves and then helping them realize that potential beyond what they could ever imagine. For those of you who Bill mentored and guided, continue to allow him to be that reasoning voice in your head that always pushes you toward excellence, honesty and integrity. These are the things he valued most.
Bill left many marks on this world. He was the love of my life.
For those he knew — feel privileged. For those he loved — feel truly blessed.
~ Jacki Susan Yeo, December 2011