Small towns have their heroes. And those heroes take on different roles depending on their personalities, their role in the community, their contributions, their character and how they see themselves. We lost one of those heroes in our community of Old Town Clovis.
William Shipley, who battled with cancer for nearly five years, fought the good fight. His sole reason for his fight was to extend the time he could be with his Cora, the love of his life, his best friend.
I talked to Bill many times about the phases of the disease and how he was dealing with the process. Always straightforward and honest, he didn’t mince words. He didn’t sugarcoat things. But he was clear about his purpose — to be with Cora as long as he could.
On Sunday, June 4, he lost his fight. Probably the first time in his life he succumbed to something he really didn’t want to happen. He wanted to make it to June 10, to be with Cora as she was inducted to the Clovis Hall of Fame.
Bill was a retired Fresno Police Officer, contractor of homes in the area, and owner of several businesses in Old Town. Cora retired from the mortgage business in the early ’80s and she and Bill got into the antiques business.
They leased and owned several locations throughout Old Town and Bill redesigned and reconstructed many buildings in Old Town as they moved around, finding better locations. They own Scoops,Soups & More and Hearts Delight.
Perhaps my fondest memories of Bill were during the Clovis Centennial. A contest to name “the Constable” was Bill’s newest goal. And like everything he set out to do, he was determined to win.
He enlisted Pattianne Shimazu to make wonderfully decorated iced cookies, which he handed out for a buck (the person who raised the most money won). He would show up early Thursday mornings and walk into the Clovis Kiwanis Club breakfast and sell his cookies.
Funny thing about that is that one of the members was also running neck and neck for Constable — Frank Fagundes. All in good fun. And yes, Bill won! Who can resist a cookie?
Old Town Clovis has so much history, but a lot of that history is about the people who have made it what it is. “Wyld” Bill Shipley contributed so much to Old Town. For more than 20 years he has been the Santa Claus for many children (he went through three Santa suits). This was probably his favorite role in Old Town. He was affected by the children’s stories telling him innocently about what they wanted for Christmas. There was always the child who didn’t want anything for themselves, but for their mom or dad or a family member. Those were the bittersweet moments that made life worth living.
He’ll be missed. We ask for prayers for Cora as she faces a new reality without her partner. And their daughter Marci and husband Bob and for Bill Jr. and his wife, Megan, who have given Bill and Cora the blessings of five grandchildren.
Old Town Clovis is all about community. When you visit, you’ll see flags and ribbons around poles and trees to commemorate Bill’s passing. He was very patriotic and I hope he’ll be happy looking down on Pollasky seeing the street flying with flags and our national colors.
Much love to the Shipley Family.
Carole Lester is the executive director of Clovis B.O.O.T. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A funeral service for Bill Shipley will begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 9 at Pentecostal Church of God, 395 Peach Ave., Clovis, with a reception immediately following.
Burial will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 10 at Clovis Memorial Cemetery, 305 N. Villa Ave.