William Burt Parkinson, 82, of York Springs, Pennsylvania, passed away Tuesday, April 11, 2023 with his loving family sending him on his journey to reunite with his parents, Burt and Annabelle Parkinson, who preceded him in death.
Bill was born August 31, 1940 in Morris, Illinois, and raised in Gardner. He left Gardner in 1948 when he joined the Marines and went on with life.
That life is well explained by his love and partner the last 30 years, Amy Worden.
“Bill and I met in the late hours in the near-empty D.C. newsroom of United Press International, where hunched-over cable editors, in green eyeshades, and legendary war correspondents still toiled, and where thermoses were known to be filled with spiked coffee.
“As I filed copy furiously to our waning number of broadcast clients, Bill would strut in with that ramrod-straight military posture, smiling. He’d edit dispatches while singing to the golden oldies CD commercials on late night CNN.
“On our first date I knocked on the hull — the one belonging to the sailboat on which he lived in Annapolis.
“And that was the beginning of a 30-year relationship that ended last Tuesday with a Johnny Mathis send-off at a nursing home in Gettysburg. He left us just as his treasured apple trees and lilac bushes exploded in colorful, fragrant blossoms – nature’s fireworks farewell!
“Bill was a fourth-generation newspaper man, a hiker and actor, singer and sailor, poet and pilot, who was mad about cats and words, history and the great pathbreaking polar explorers. He learned newspapering (and now arcane skills like setting lead type) from his father and grandfather who ran The Gardner Chronicle on the old Route 66 southwest of Chicago.
“After eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Bill returned to journalism, first as a reporter for The Joliet Herald News and as a foreign editor at The Chicago Tribune, correspondent for The Birmingham (UK) Mail, and editor at the Associated Press, before founding his own weekly newspaper in Chincoteague, Virginia.
“News jobs took us to Toronto, Ottawa, Annapolis, New York, and Baltimore before we settled into a nearly 200-year-old log cabin in an apple orchard near Gettysburg.
“Bill later worked as editorial page editor for The York Dispatch and as an editor/columnist at The Carlisle Sentinel. In his “Senior Moment” column, he waxed nostalgic about his stint as a teen “carny” with a traveling carnival and considered the finer points of the corn dog, while advocating for a variety of causes, among them the rights of animals and the right to die.
“He acted in Harrisburg area community theater productions, including in 2005 playing prosecutor Tom Davenport in “Inherit the Wind,” while editorializing on a real-life Scopes trial – the Dover school board evolution challenge – taking place in a federal courtroom a block away. He played his keyboard in local restaurants, had a summer gig as an interpretive historian at Gettysburg Military Park, and developed a one-man show, Lincoln & Gettysburg: The (Carl) Sandburg Experience. At home, he converted an area above our garage into a cat house, taking in scores of cats over the years and earning him the moniker “Semper Feline.”
“Bill is survived by his son, William (Betsy), and granddaughters, Josie and Sadie, all of Oak Park, Illinois; his sister, Patricia Swisher of Braceville, Illinois; two step-sons, Tim (Deanna) (of Joliet) and Brian (Diane) (of Virginia) Whalen; many nieces and nephews; his four-legged family members: Olivia the pup, Chloe the horse, Nikki his velcro cat, many more felines over the years, and me. Sail on, sailor.”