Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bill Hetfield, A True Plainfielder

In the early 1980s, I was working for Jan and Henry Johnson at Plainfield Today, a weekly newspaper with offices on North Avenue. Bill Hetfield was a frequent visitor, sharing his opinions and urging the newspaper to keep politicians' "feet to the fire."

Over the years when I was working at the daily Courier News, Bill called every so often for the same purposes. I used to wish the newspapers indeed had the power to set things right as much as Bill wanted. He gave his all for many causes, including preservation, community improvement, citizen engagement, civic spirit, pride in Plainfield and an ache to see the city return to its former glory.

Plainfield did grow better because of Bill Hetfield. He helped to get more than 200 people involved in creating a strategic plan for the city. The property he owned was a model for other landlords. He supported all that was best in the city's rich cultural and historic legacy. When he saw sincere political talent, he encouraged it and even put himself on the line in a run for the mayoralty.

Despite his acute awareness of ills to be cured, he never seemed downcast by the struggle, but offered others an example of optimism and hope for the future.

Now that he is gone, it falls to the rest of us to take up his work. We can recall his sunny smile and even a twinkle in his eye when he talked about Plainfield - the one he loved, the one he envisioned, the city in progress that was so uplifted by his efforts.

Remembering Bill best will be in what we each do that he would have cheered. He will live on in our thoughts and actions, if no longer in our lives.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully written, Bernice. I, for one, will remember Bill by getting more involved in Plainfield, and "holding politicians feet to the fire".

We are lucky to have had him as a neighbor in Plainfield.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIP Bill, you will be missed.

11:39 AM  

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