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A tribute to Bill Hull          Send a link to a friend

By Jeff Mayfield

[FEB. 28, 2006]  Our community has lost an icon as Bill Hull has been taken from us. It is a blow on several fronts. Our community can ill afford to lose such quality servants.

Bill has been a great friend to me as long as I have known him. He encouraged me in my work at the college and was always a faithful supporter of my coaching. If you've ever coached, you know how few backers you ever truly have, so any are welcomed with open arms. Bill went out of his way to prove his loyalty. He would call me after a tough loss or an exciting win just to let me know that he was keeping track of my team's progress. He'd invite me to Rotary to share my team's story with all the professionals there. In his introductions he made me feel like I was the coach of the Illini or some really big-time program, when we all knew that I was just toiling in Lincoln. He commented often on how critically important the local colleges were to our local economy.

When I crazily agreed to serve as the economic development director, Bill was one of the first on the scene to offer me his help, his advice, his creative ideas or his shoulder when I was taking some hits. If there were people who were more pro-Lincoln than he was, I didn't meet many of them. In my lifetime he is truly a gentleman I can point to who really "got it!"

Since his stroke last week I have really been bummed. I used to go into the bank and he and I would solve many world problems. We would bounce ideas off each other regarding local developments. And then eventually the conversation would turn to Illini sports. You should've seen him light up on that topic. Few fans will ever be as well-versed as Bill was on Illini football and hoops. He always understood the "big picture." And he, like me -- even though we knew that there were certainly more important things in life than the Illini -- was just always so proud of our "men in orange." Maybe Bill's Illini will finish this season in a special way to commemorate one of their greatest fans.

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I don't know what's going to happen to me the next time I go into his bank. I'll probably avoid that for awhile. I drove his colleagues crazy the last 10-12 years going in there asking them if Bill was out of his meeting yet so we could discuss "some really important issues." I may break down totally myself, because that place won't nearly be the same without him. I always thought of him as a gentle giant. I guess there will be other bank vice presidents, because you have to fill slots, BUT there will never be another Bill Hull; he was one of a kind!

In this day and age when we have a skewed concept of what true heroes and role models ought to be like, I offer up Bill Hull. If anyone can be like him, then in my book, they've lived a pretty successful life. Farewell and Godspeed, my friend!

[Jeff Mayfield]

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[William Hull obituary]


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