To some he was a troopmate or Order of the Arrow brother. To others, he was a Cubmaster or Scoutmaster. Still others knew him as a Wood Badger or jamboree leader.
William Porter Hemenway II, Eagle Scout, Silver Beaver Award recipient, Vigil honor member of the Order of the Arrow and a lifelong Scouter who helped more than 50 young men reach Eagle, died April 3 at his home in Texas. He was 55.
What’s clear is that during Bill’s 55 years on this earth, he left an impression on the Scouting movement in North Texas that will never fade.
I’m proud to say I knew him. To me, Bill was my Philmont crew advisor, assistant Scoutmaster, fellow national jamboree staffer, Wood Badge senior patrol leader and friend.
In 2009, when Scouting magazine needed a cover model for an issue about Scouter-friendly automobiles, I knew exactly whom to call. Bill, already a role model, agreed to be a cover model, too.
Bill had recently earned his Wood Badge beads and brought them to the photo shoot. He was proud of his beads and asked if he could wear them in the photos. Of course, we said.
He patiently loaded and unloaded that SUV again and again — wearing that infectious smile throughout — as our photographer got the perfect shot.
Bill was born Feb. 21, 1962, in Englewood, Calif.
When his family moved to Texas, Bill joined Boy Scout Troop 70 of Dallas, part of the Circle Ten Council.
Longtime Scouter Charles Holmes met Bill in 1975 as a fellow member of Troop 70. Holmes shared with me Bill’s Eagle Scout picture from May 1977.
“To say he will be missed is an understatement,” Holmes said. “There are so many whose life he touched in a positive way.”
‘I’m gonna like being around this guy’
My dad, Don Wendell, first met Bill 20 years ago. The occasion was, of course, some sort of Scouting event.
“When I met Bill, I immediately thought, ‘I’m gonna like being around this guy,'” my dad said. “Well, that first impression was a lasting one, and I enjoyed every minute that I was with him. Bill had the knack of making everyone around him feel special. His smile, his enthusiasm and his positive attitude were infectious.”
When Bill was serving as Wood Badge senior patrol leader, my dad was the course mentor. He got to observe firsthand the servant leadership Bill showed throughout the course. Though Bill held one of the top posts in that course, he wasn’t there to be the boss. He was there to serve others.
“And putting others first was something he always did,” my dad said. “These traits made Bill a beloved Scouting volunteer. We are all fortunate to have known him.”
This 2012 Wood Badge course would lead to Bill’s second Scouting magazine appearance. We documented the masterful ways in which Bill and course director John Stone ran this top-level training course for adult leaders.
A year later, Bill was a Wood Badge course director — an honor given only to the most qualified Scout volunteers.
A Scouter to the fullest
Stone met Bill 20 years ago as well. Stone, Bill and my dad each served three-year terms as Scoutmaster of Troop 1776. They learned from one another.
Stone says Bill’s “smile, positive attitude, his love for camping and the outdoors, and outstanding leadership skills will be missed.”
In addition to guiding 20 young men toward Eagle Scout as Scoutmaster — and 30 more as an assistant Scoutmaster — Bill helped his two sons earn Scouting’s highest honor.
“Bill was a loving and compassionate father to his daughter and his two sons, both Eagle Scouts, and a devoted husband to his wife, Jan,” Stone says. “What a great legacy Bill has left.”