As we started in on the prospects of a new year, we got word that the founder of this very magazine has passed away. A terrible start to 2021 for us on a personal level. Bill Bryson was a man we came to deeply respect immediately upon meeting him a couple of years ago to talk about his transition out of The Gateway Magazine. He was looking to sell it to an interested party, but he also made it clear that he’d just as presume shutting it down than selling to the wrong people. So, we knew we had to make an impression. Our approach? Just be ourselves.
Bill and Sharon welcomed us warmly into their home to discuss the history of the magazine and where we thought we’d like to see it go. He shared family stories, pictures, and trinkets of things he’d collected over the years and filled us with an immeasurable amount of wisdom of what it took to get his publication off the ground each and every month. It’s no small feat. And Bill’s two-decades of service to its cause is admirable to say the least. All that said, he was ready to move on in some capacity and put the magazine in the rearview. What he wished to do was get his house finished up, and hit the fishing hole a little more often in retirement. We could get behind that!
We left the house that day feeling pretty good. If nothing else, we had collected some great dialogue to file in the “story bank,” as we continued about our business. When Bill and Sharon granted us the keys to the kingdom shortly thereafter, we knew we had made a couple of friends – which is something we don’t take lightly.
We kept in touch as the magazine continued to operate – with a fresh new design intact. Bill was our number one fan. He’d offer criticism, but, moreover, he offered praise. He was so happy that the magazine he founded with Sharon in 1999 had renewed life, and a path for further longevity in the industry he loved.
Bill was a storyteller. And we continue telling stories with his spirit in mind.
The following is a tribute written by Sharon:
Bill was born October 17, 1940 in Chicago, IL. In 1956 his dad decided he wanted to start a dairy farm, so he bought a 150 acre farm in Middleton, NH. The family moved there on Bill’s 16th birthday. He went from a school with 1,500 students in his grade to 39 in Farmington, NH.
After Bill graduated, he started working in a shoe shop where he worked many hours each week. From there he went to work in a cabinet shop where he built many different items. His many jobs included working with an electrician to wire a new plant in Rochester, to building custom homes. From there he went on to work as a purchasing agent in Dover, to a specialty tool salesman for northern New England. He also worked as a salesman for a Vermont machine shop for several years, and for a vacuum furnace builder.
Bill always wanted to help the buyers in the manufacturing industry find the right sources. Through is work and the many sales calls he made throughout his career he was led to starting The Gateway Magazine. He saw a need for something for the buyers to consult with before finding the special shop they were looking for to supply their special items which they needed to build their products. He also enjoyed writing too, so the magazine seemed to supply both. He developed a mock-up of what the magazine would be and sent it around to a few companies he had dealt with. When he got a positive response, he started his quest as a publisher. Within a few months he had a new business to focus on and put his energy into.
Bill enjoyed visiting the many shops in New England and learning about all the products made in this part of the world. He loved writing about how each of these companies were started and their business philosophies – uncovering why they did what they did. He enjoyed meeting many very interesting people throughout the 20 years he published the magazine and all the stories that came from these experiences. Traveling with him on the interviews, I got a chance to see how many things were made. We also got to spend a lot of time together in these travels and talking about what we could do to make the magazine better. He always wanted to promote items made here in America.
It was always a joy each month to see the published magazine – the final product of countless of hours worth of work. It also was great to look at all the products and companies that were located here in New England, and to be able to help make them known in the area.
Bill was always willing to share any information with anyone especially on heat treating or cryogenics. He authored three books on the subject and would answer questions anyone asked him. He was an approachable resource.
After Bill retired, he spent the next year working on remodeling our home. He had it just about finished, when he fell and broke his femur bone while at a surgeon’s office. When x-rays were taken his cancer was discovered. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in April of 2020 and lost his battle with it on January 9, 2021. He will be greatly missed.
Thanks for the words, Sharon. And we’re so sorry for your loss…
Bill will be missed indeed. But he’ll never be forgotten. If you met him, you grew to appreciate him. More often than not, that appreciation was immediate. We still get people that comment on how much they enjoyed Bill’s company and people do often ask how he’s doing. For that, we’re sorry for this update…
He was a straight shooter who wanted to tell an accurate story. His goal was to shed light on the manufacturers that make the industry tick in our small corner of the world. And he succeeded. We hope that we’re doing the same, and that, even from his place in the sky, Bill will continue to look down at us in approval. Rest in peace, Bill.