Bill Peakes, the fly framer, has gone home


[Bulletin Board]


Posted by Craig on 2014-01-02 21:37:01

No one announces their own departure from this earth.

By the time I met Bill, he already retired from the Oakland Fire Department a long, long time ago. His Forestry degree was probably useful when he was hired on in his youth as Oakland was probably still considered country space. I could never envision him with his slight stature carrying fire hoses and such. Then I heard he was the firehouse cook. Back in the 90's Bill went to Alaska with a group of us. Bill remarked that the last time he was in Alaska was in Fairbanks for a winter while in the service. It took days to get there and he actually had to help push the plane out of the hanger and turn it around. Then Bill would tell us it was a prop plane.

Bill taught and shared his knowledge from fly tying to fly framing to rod building. He restored bamboo rods and taught others how to build their first fly rods in his garage that we fondly referred to as "The Museum". Bill had a knack of tying his flies without use of a bobbin- the old way in which he learned, and resisted change when bobbins came on the scene. If you were ever at any of the NCCFFF dinners, Striperfest, numerous fly club dinners in the area, and even at Mike Lawson's Fly Shop in Island Park, Bill's work of framed flies could easily be spotted with his signature style. Mostly he would just ask for material costs as compensation for his work. Before it became popular, Bill use to write fly tiers asking for their flies, which he framed for his own personal fly collection. Mission Peak Fly Anglers use to rotate their board meetings where it became a real temptation to disengage from the meetings at Bill's house and just walk around the room admiring Bill's collection of flies that included a signature card with each tier's flies. His collection even included hand tied flies from the Deaths, famed for the Catskill style flies.

Bill highlighted the tier's work over his own as the "Fly Framer". This ran parallel to the way Bill carried on his life. When the NCCFFF had flytying Conclaves and Hall of Fame venues. A group of us would bid on fly boxes and get Bill to frame them for us. We would kick in a set of flies for Bill and he was always willing to accommodate us.

Bill was also the club treasurer longer than I have been a member. He used a pocket calculator and a handwritten ledger for the club records. Resistant to change, board members would try to bring him into the 20th and 21st century by getting him to switch to a computer for his bookkeeping. When those more savvy tried to establish a budget for the year, it was always pointed out by Bill that there were holes in their budgets. Then he would open his ledger and make suggestions based on his records. That was the last time anyone tried to get Bill to switch over to Quickbooks. The funniest part is when it was decided that the club's books needed to be audited by those with accounting backgrounds. After thorough scrutiny, everyone was satisfied when Bill's records were off by a couple of pennies. Bill was so fiscally responsible with the club's funds that I always referenced the Treasurer's report by asking Bill if he had purchased those one way tickets for he and his wife to Tahiti with the club funds.

A creature of habit, Bill always had his annual fish out to the Clark Fork, a week at Castle Crag State park with his bride, Bonnie as well as Manzanita Lake over the Father day weekend. Bill would fish and Bonnie was more than happy to read and enjoy the serenity of the area.

Bill is survived by his wife, Bonnie and their son. He will be missed.


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