Bill spent his last 18 days at home in hospice care surrounded by the love of family and friends. He passed in the early morning with his wife Donna holding his hand. The previous weekend the whole family was here and many friends visited. I know he was happy to hear their voices even though he couldn’t express it.
He is survived by his wife of almost 43 years, Donna. He was an amazing father to three children, Katy (Dave), Ben, and Bridget (Mitch). There are 5 grandchildren who called him Grandpa or Grampy; Callan, Caitlyn, Cora Jade, Natalie and Jacob. He touched the lives of many and had a group of “surrogate” sons and daughters who meant the world to him.
Bill was the youngest of three children born to Jack and Peggy Mayer. He is survived by his sister Carol (Jim), nieces Devon, Kelly (Alex) and Shannon. He was happy that his mother lived to 100. We have the Smuckers jelly jar with her picture on it as a reminder.
Bill was very proud to be an Eagle Scout and as a young man spent a lot of time hiking, white water rafting and camping. He hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail twice and participated in two 6-week Outward Bound courses. When the kids were young, the family did 20 hikes in the state of Delaware to complete the Delaware Trail Challenge. The Brandywine Valley in PA was special to him. We enjoyed many visits to Longwood Gardens and the Wyeth museum.
Bill’s 41-year career was with McDonald’s Corporation in the Philadelphia region and then the New York Metro region. He started working in the restaurants in 1973 and was promoted to supervisor, taught management training classes and was a consultant to owner/operators. He and Donna met at the McDonald’s in West Chester PA in 1977 and were married in 1978. In 1994, they made the decision to themselves become owner/operators and moved from Unionville/Chadds Ford PA to upstate New York to purchase 2 restaurants in Saugerties NY.
For 20 years he poured his heart and soul into the thousands of people who worked for us and the community. If something broke, Bill would fix it. He was in the restaurants every day and would greet everyone in his loud booming voice. He gave people affectionate nicknames and called many Mr. or Ms. Wonderful or Skippy. Some he would call by their full name instead of a nickname. He was involved with the local business association, schools and the economic development committee.
Bill was eager to offer his opinion or advice on any subject whether you asked for it or not. He knew a little about a lot of things and wasn’t shy about sharing his opinions. He loved to ask about grade point averages, extracurricular activities and plans for the future, among other things. He helped anyone who needed it with college applications and financial aid.
Bill enjoyed assisting people with home improvement projects and helped with several decks and home additions. His father, Jack taught him a lot and during his McDonald’s Corporation sabbatical, he spent 6 weeks, with a contractor designing and rebuilding our home in PA. After retirement he worked as an assistant laying tile at construction sites.
Bill loved the beach! Every summer we would go “down the shore” to Ocean City NJ. He insisted that the family still go this year even though he couldn’t. He and Donna went to a Sandal’s resort in the Caribbean every January. He would sit and read on the beach all day with swimming breaks to cool off. He also had a love for the National Parks and Forests in the USA. The last 2 trips were to Sequoia National Forest and a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon with Ben. There were also trips to North Carolina to visit family and Australia to visit extended family. We recently traveled to Iceland with his sister Carol and her husband, Jim.
Bill loved his red wine. He loved the wine rituals of decanting, swirling, tasting and toasting. He had a bunch of wine drinking buddies. 19 Crimes was his go to everyday wine and Jordan Cabernet was a favorite for special occasions. He also loved a good meal with friends! He would make any occasion into a special one to celebrate life events. We have dined at many restaurants in the Brandywine Valley PA and the Hudson Valley in NY. The Culinary Institute of America was a favorite.
Bill enjoyed a full and fruitful life filled with family, friends, travel, reading, gift giving and love of history and biography. Bill never met a stranger. He will be missed by so many and never forgotten by most. He was a force of nature and is irreplaceable in the lives of those who loved him.
A celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, September 21 from 3-7 pm at the Route 212 McDonalds back parking lot in Saugerties. Please park at the Starway Café rear parking lot and wear a mask. Please express your love for Bill by sharing a written memory. These last longer than food or flowers. Cards will be provided. Donations in his name can be made to Hudson Valley Hospice or the Ronald McDonald House Corporation.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William Kelly Mayer, please visit our floral store.