In the summer of 1986 I turned 24, got my first Master’s Degree and moved 1,275 miles from southern Indiana to Casper, Wyoming. I was going to be a special needs teacher in The Natrona County School District. Wyoming and I were a great fit as there was plenty to hunt and fish.
As you can only imagine I didn’t know anyone, however I quickly started to make new friends…most of them either in the school district or a hunter or fisherman. January of 1987 found my Special Olympics group playing at the halftime of a CBA basketball game. The kids (as well as I) looked like rag-muffins but everyone had a great time and little was thought of it. The next day I went to our local mall and ran into a guy by the name of William Hutcheson. Little did I know that he had attended the basketball game and had seen me on the sidelines. Now, here is where the story (and a 30 year friendship) takes off.
Willy started talking to me very slowly and I remember specifically…a little bit too loud. A few minutes went by before I figured it out; Doc thought I wasn’t a coach…you guessed it…but that I was one of the Special O kids myself. His heart then was as big as his heart was the day he died…he always cared about others and on this day he was trying to let me know that he thought me and my group had done an amazing job the night before.
I tactfully explained to Doc that I was their coach; Doc felt terrible but from that introduction we became friends and to this day I consider Willy to be one of those great influencers on my life. Over the next few years we hunted birds, deer, antelope, rabbits…well, about everything together. We also fly fished and while my skills weren’t quite the level they are now, the fishing in Wyoming was at times so good…that anyone could succeed.
Since those grand ole days, I moved ‘back home again in Indiana’ and Doc and his wife Sherry, they moved first to McPherson, Kansas. Then as fate would have it…to Paoli, Indiana; just an hour or so down the road…you see their youngest child, John was a pastor in Paoli and Willy wanted to be close to the grandkids.
Fast-forward to March 20th of this current year. ‘Doc’ William ‘Bill Charles Hutcheson passed away at his home in Paoli. I got the call from John and frankly wasn’t ready for this call even though I kind of thought it might happen at some point. Willy’s health had been failing him…but getting the call was simply one of those ‘tough’ moments in my life.
NOTE: The crossed out section of this article referred to Doc’s fly fishing gear that I was able to sell for his family via this web site. The items have been sold, but I’m leaving this article on site as a tribute to his memory. To see the list of Fly Fishing books that are still available for sale (some signed by the author), click here.
I could go on….and on…because Willy was that kind of a man…but here is the bottom line. The family has entrusted me with all of Doc’s fly fishing arsenal. To say that it is impressive is a huge understatement. Over the course of the next few weeks I am going to be listing a few items at a time from his extensive collection. There are rods, reels, combos, waders, boots, nets, tying vises, fly tying kits, fly tying materials….and on and on. I am going to list a few items each week and will try to price these items reasonably. Just understand this about my friend…he took incredible care of everything he owned; what kind of guy actually has a steering wheel fly tying kit? The answer: Willy Hutcheson. I hope that you will check each week for these items…if you find something that you are interested in, then e-mail me personally. The items will be priced fairly and by fairly, I don’t mean a bargain basement price…I do mean that it will be a piece of great fly equipment at a price that will be very fair; in fact, once you see the items you can check out their price for yourself and make a decision. What I want to do is be of service for the family…I want to get the right piece of equipment into the hands of a person who will appreciate and use it. One last thing…I am not going to haggle on prices. You either want it for the price listed or you don’t. I will then ship you the item and add shipping to the costs. You will then pay me via snail mail and we will work together to make sure you get one of my friends’ treasured items.
This is my service to the family…but more important….the service to one of my best friends and one of God’s best servants! Just this past Sunday, the day after I received the collection…I took one of Doc’s 2 weight rod/reels to a small lake. I tied on a small white streamer and proceeded to catch a crappie, blue-gill, red-ear and a bass in under ten minutes. I have to say that there were a couple of moments I landed a fish with a tear in my eye…but I knew Doc was up there smiling…telling me to, “Keep the rod high and my elbow in”!