William “Bill” Thomas Scherkey was born on January 19, 1942, in Detroit, Michigan. His fondest childhood days were the summers he spent with his grandmother and grandfather in Michigan and at his two great uncles’ farm in Indiana. During high school, Bill played varsity tennis and began his lifelong love of golf. Soon after graduating high school in Novi, Michigan, he headed to Georgia for basic training in the U.S. Army. Upon completion of training, Bill served three years oversees as a military policeman on the Germany-Czechoslovakia boarder during the building of the Berlin Wall. When on military leave, Bill headed for the Alps in Switzerland to ski on his own set of wooden skis. Bill found his time in the military rewarding and enjoyed the comradery of his unit. With the GI Bill in his hand, Bill attended Western Michigan University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in industrial management and metallurgy.
For thirty years Bill worked in the aerospace and defense manufacturing sector where he oversaw the building of various components for the NASA Space Shuttle program and Stealth Bomber. One of the highlights of his career was attending the launch of the space shuttle Columbia at the Kennedy Space Center on January 12, 1986, with the daughters from his first marriage, Jean Scherkey and Nicole (Scherkey) McClurg.
Bill moved to California in 1989 to escape the eastern snow and ice. He didn’t realize he was starting the second act of his life. Bill married the love of his life, Melinda Thompson, in 1993 and gained a third daughter, Carolyn Campbell. Bill was ready to try something new and realized if he changed careers he could work alongside Melinda, who is a tax practitioner. His favorite part of being a tax practitioner was the interaction he had with his clients and working alongside the gal of his dreams.
Bill was very engaging and people-oriented; he always went out of his way to help others. When Bill moved to La Canada, he became an active member in the La Canada Kiwanis Club and served as president during 1998-1999. He was a member for over 30 years.
Bill had many hobbies! One of his favorite activities was scuba diving. Although Bill lived in Buffalo, he was very motivated to learn how to scuba dive, so he took lessons in the Niagara River! After he was certified, he took many trips to dive in the warm waters of the Caribbean. Bill shared his love of diving with his daughters, Jean and Nicole, and they also learned to dive in the Niagara River. As a reward for learning to dive in the ice and snow, Bill took the girls on several diving trips to warm and tropical waters when they were teenagers.
Bill loved to cook and enjoyed every opportunity he had to cook with his brother-in-law, Dick Reed. He especially enjoyed the cooking lessons he took for a week in Puebla, Mexico with his wife, Melinda, sister-in-law, Patty Reed, and Dick. Bill had a lifelong passion for reading, and his favorite authors were James Michener and Tom Clancy. Bill always looked forward to traveling along the west coast and around the southwest with his wife, Melinda. They started their travels using Bill’s Camaro and camping with a pup tent but soon graduated to a fifth wheel and later to an RV. (Bill insisted he had done enough pup tent camping in the Army!) In addition to traveling around the U.S., Melinda and Bill traveled around Europe, Mexico and Central America, South America, Bali, Australia, and Hawaii. Later in life, Bill’s inner van Gogh flourished. He started taking art lessons at the La Canada Community Center and eventually enrolled in many classes at the Pasadena ArtCenter College of Design. Bill’s favorite medium was oils, and he painted portraits, figures, landscapes, and everything in between.
Whichever direction Bill’s life took him, his true North remained his family. Bill cherished his grandsons, Sam and Evan McClurg. He never missed an opportunity to hear Sam’s accomplished drumming and admire Evan’s original artwork. Helen Thompson, Bill’s mother-in-law, was a very special person in his life. Bill and Melinda joyfully drew their extended families together. Bill espcially looked forward to large family gatherings at every holiday. He would gather all the men in the kitchen where they would cook together while the ladies were relaxing in the living room. Holiday evenings included many games with lots of competition and laughter!
Melinda and Bill were happily married for thirty years. Bill passed away peacefully on August 28, 2023, surrounded by the love of his family. There will be a memorial service for friends and family on October 28 at 2 p.m. at the La Canada Presbyterian Church. Bill’s favorite charities were the Lewy Body Dementia Association and the La Canada Kiwanis Foundation.