SUTTONS BAY – William “Bill” F. Hendry, 59 of Suttons Bay, passed away in his sleep Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at his home. He leaves behind a legacy of public service, professionalism and a dedication to making those he loved laugh.
Bill was born to William and Myrna (Crutcher) Hendry on July 27, 1954, in Detroit. He graduated from Detroit Redford High School in 1972, where he gained a reputation as a tenacious and under-sized football lineman.
Bill worked at UPS to put himself through Central Michigan University, where he was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity and graduated in 1976 with majors in psychology and sociology. It was during his time at CMU that he met his lifelong buddy and fraternity brother, Al Ruggirello. “Having known Bill for 40 years,” Al said, “we have been through a lot together. Bill was a fraternity brother, a business partner and confidant, and a ray of sunshine in dark times. He will never be forgotten.” After graduation, Bill worked as a Juvenile Probation Officer with Leelanau County.
He married Claudia Christensen at Immanuel Lutheran Church on June 4, 1977 — a perfect Suttons Bay summer day. They would be married for the rest of his life. They had their first child, Danielle, in 1981 while Bill worked as a real estate agent and prepared to attend Cooley Law School, from which he graduated with honors in 1984.
The family’s second child, Brooke, was born in 1985 while Bill prepared for the Bar Exam. He began his legal career at the Southfield-based Lawyers Title firm before opening his own law office in Byron Center, which he ran until 2010.
Bill was an active member of the Byron Center community, serving as a board member on the Byron Township Chamber of Commerce, member of the Downtown Development Association and president of the area Lions’ Club. He also volunteered legal service to the City of Kentwood’s Senior Center, gaining a reputation for helping those in need.
Bill and Claudia returned up north in 2010, settling a stone’s throw away from the Christensen family farm on Stony Point. He opened a new law office in Northport and joined Lake Leelanau St. Mary’s School as their Athletic Director. He served on the Northport Chamber of Commerce and Leelanau Township Foundation, and also provided legal counsel for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.
Beyond his professional and community service, Bill was an incredibly loving father, grandfather and husband. He regularly encouraged and supported his daughters’ extracurricular pursuits, while instilling in them his strong work ethic and sense of humor.
To his many friends and family, Bill was known for his jokes and (often repeated) stories. He loved being a grandfather to Eleanor, who affectionately referred to him as Papa. He thrived in the company of his storyteller friends, first with his “Latte Boys” buddies in Grand Rapids and later with the Northport-based Barb’s Bakery locals.
A lover of reading and boating, he enjoyed taking his daughters, cousins and friends out to water ski and tube on West Grand Traverse Bay. He was happiest when he was making everyone around him laugh with some of the many silly true stories of his life.
Eleanor’s belief that “Papa is too big for heaven” is likely shared by all who had the wonderful fortune to know him. He was a rare breed of man — strong but kind, disciplined but loving, and loyal to the end.
Bill is survived by his wife, Claudia; his daughters, Danielle Hendry (John “David” Oller), and Brooke Hendry; his siblings, Laura Meyers and John (Diane) Hendry; his granddaughter, Eleanor Hendry Oller; his brother-in-law, Steven (Sarah) Christensen; his sisters-in-law, Sheryl Hendry and Lou Ann Christensen; and his mother-in-law, Ruth Christensen.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Daniel Hendry and Kenneth Hendry; his brothers-in-law, Mike Meyers and David Christensen; and his father-in-law, Norman Christensen.
A memorial service will be announced in the summer.
Memorials may be directed to Saint Mary School, P.O. Box 340, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653. Funds will be used to establish a scholarship in Bill’s name.
Please share memories with Bill’s family online at www.martinson.info.
Arrangements are with the Martinson Funeral Home of Suttons Bay.