I wanted to send this letter to Bill's family soon after his death but just didn't get around to it.  When I was at Bill's Rosary, the perfect time came where I could have read it but I had not brought it with me.  I was regrettably unable to attend the funeral so I am putting the letter here.

He walked softly but carried a big stick.

Growing up on the west side of Cimarron in the Fifties was probably like a lot of small towns.  I remember Delaine Jantz, Bud and Mike O’grady, the Whitaker boys, the Sear’s boys, us Thomas boys, and of course Scooter, Billy, and Doodle Kramer.  Now days, Scooter is Marvin and Doodle is Jim, but Bill was always Bill.  The one thing that always comes to my mind when I think of Bill is an old saying.  Walk softly and carry a big stick.  Bill was always that way to me.   

Some of the older kids on our end of town were just plain mean, so many of our games tended to be on the rough side.  Growing up on the west side meant that you were probably from a poorer family, so when we played, we used whatever “toys” happened to be available.     

One of our “toys” was just plain old rocks and we would have rock fights.  We would choose up sides, tip our wagons on their sides and throw at each other.  You would always want to be on Bill’s side.  He was never mean but he could throw a mean rock.  You always knew that whatever Billy was aiming at, he was going to hit.  If he missed you, it was because he wanted to.  However, he never bragged about how good he was; he walked softly but carried a big stick. 

When Bill was in High School he stood out to me as a punter on the football team.  Many times when watching someone punt you can barely hear it.  When Bill punted the ball you never had to watch to see if he had punted the ball.  You would hear a loud boom and you would know the ball was on one heck of a ride.  He could kick a football higher and further than anyone I ever knew personally.  However, you would never hear Bill bragging about it.  He walked softly but carried a big stick. 

As sheriff he was still the same old Bill.  You never had to worry about what was happening in the county.  You knew Bill and his deputies would be on top of whatever might be happening.  You never heard Bill talk about how good a job he was doing, you just knew the job was being done.  He walked softly but carried a big stick. 

One of Bill’s brother-in-laws was Glenn Hornung who passed away just last week.  Last Sunday at Glenn’s rosary, Roger Laudick spoke of Glenn.  Having myself known Glenn for many years, one of the things Roger said really stuck with me.  Roger said “I am a better person for having known Glenn”.  I have the same thoughts of Billy. 

There is no question that anyone that really knew Bill is a better person for having known him. 

He walked softly but carried a big stick. 

Pete Thomas.  8/24/2006