Oakley Professor Bill

In memory of my friend, the Professor, Bill Oomkes. As I write in my book an “Oakley” is one who has the ability to influence others in a positive way with their standing and experience.

Here is an excerpt from my book ‘I Need to Change My Plants’ about Professor Bill:

Another Oakley is my friend Professor Bill. I call him the professor because he never stops learning. Bill Oomkes will call me out of the blue with an observation, a thought or a question. And he and I are the only people I know who carry a soil thermometer in our vehicles. Used at a moment’s notice while out and about measuring soil temperature. On a March day my phone will ring and I’ll see it’s Bill calling.

“Hi Bill”
“Yep. Soil temperature is 40 degrees at the 2 inch level. I think winter is over.”
“Nowhere to go but up from here.”
“Yep. Just thought you might want to know. Have a good day.”

Bill Oomkes The Professor

Bill knows I’m capable of measuring soil temperature myself and can access the data online. But he calls because he knows we are both curious and it’s a bond of brothers. I supposed it was good company as intelligent people have a distinguishing characteristic, they are insatiably curious. Albert Einstein was considered by many to be the smartest person in history. He would say, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Bill also calls because he knows how much I dislike winter and cold weather. He even hesitates to express that four letter word around me called snow. Bill combines his curiosity and questions with a positive attitude. As kids we are encouraged to ask questions and are rewarded for learning. As adults questioning often comes with negative connotations. It shouldn’t. We are continually learning to the day we die. That’s why I call him the professor. Bill is always learning and maintains a positive attitude and that attitude is infectious around others. The combination of curiosity and a positive attitude is a great “Oakley” example for me to follow. Looking forward.

Bill also loves to travel and share his discoveries with others. But with his wife ill and no longer able to travel the professor too ended up in the hospital during the spring of 2020. Some very serious issues. You wouldn’t know it by talking to him. My phone rings on a warm May day.

Bill says, “Why are the forsythias in bloom? It’s mid-May.”

I have to prod him to talk about his hospital stay and how he is doing. He had to be readmitted after an initial stay. He would rather talk about the forsythias blooming late due to a cold wet spring. To talk about how pre emergent applications for crabgrass controls might be affected. How beautiful the blooming trees are. And how blessed we are. Curious and positive. Together we never stop learning.

The day after Bill Oomkes passed away I went to walk the beach the morning of April 1, 2021. The sun was coming up in the east and to the west the vista over the lake was dramatic. It was winter and spring colliding in a classic confrontation. The sun was shining one minute and it was snowing the next. I smiled and thought about Bill. He knew how much I love warm weather and how much I did not like snow and cold. He was one who found beauty in the snow and celebrated it. Always making the best of a situation. We would laugh and he would give me a good natured ribbing about that 4 letter word….snow. He was teaching me a lesson. Make every day count. Celebrate each day. Thank you Professor. The vista felt like he was sending me a message from heaven to enjoy the day and to keep learning. And to now pick up the baton and share with others. Thank you Bill. Here is the view that morning captured through the lens of my camera: (click on images to enlarge)

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021


April 1, 2021

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