Bill McMahon’s father, Charles, was a high school student in Fort Dodge, Iowa. One day he walked past a portrait studio in town and saw a beautiful girl’s portrait in the window, he fell in love that moment. The girl in the picture attended his high school and they soon became sweethearts. After finishing high school, Bill’s father graduated from college, obtained a job as an actuary and married his high school sweetheart. They started a family right away, but the war started and he was shipped to England for a few years. After the war ended he returned to their home on Long Island, N.Y. The Irish Catholic family consisted of 9 children, Dave, Jim, Doug, Bill, Connie, Rusty, Andy, Margie and Mike. Bill was born in 1950, he was the 4th child.
The family moved to Cincinnati, where Bill’s father worked as Chief Actuary and Vice President of the Union Central Life Insurance Company. They lived in a large house built in the 1820’s with 11 ft. ceilings and 8 bedrooms upstairs. Camping was a popular family activity; they owned the biggest canvas tent you could buy. The family usually would go on vacations one-half at a time, the big kids on one trip and the little kids on the next trip. The family had one memorable trip to Colorado and California in a blue school bus that had been converted into a camper, complete with frequent overheating, some tire changes and a breakdown on Highway 101 in California.
Christmas was the biggest holiday of the year. The children saved their money all year to buy a present for each brother and sister. The Christmas tree was always to the top of the 11-foot ceiling and on Christmas Day would have over a hundred gifts under it. Bill’s father would hand out the gifts one at a time and everyone would wait while each person opened their gift. The gift giving lasted most of Christmas Day.
All of the children attended Catholic Schools. Bill attended a Jesuit high school; it had a college prep program with advance placement classes in Math, Chemistry and English. Bill was also a member of the drama club. After graduation, he attended Case Western Reserve University and after the first year switched schools to a liberal arts program at Xavier University. Bill then transferred to Ohio University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy. After graduation Bill moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he lived in the Titanic Co-op, a fraternity house that had been converted to a co-op where people shared the cooking and other chores. He worked as a day laborer and at odd jobs as a philosopher-dishwasher, philosopher-construction worker and so on. Bill liked to take the summers off and would grab his backpack and stick out his thumb. He spent one summer hitchhiking and backpacking in the Canadian Rockies and another in the Yukon Territory and Alaska. In time, this phase ran its course and Bill decided to attend Colorado State University where he received his Masters Degree in Computer Science. After graduation, Hewlett Packard hired Bill as a software developer.
While attending Colorado State University, Karen Simpson, an arts major, saw Bill doing Tai Chi. A friend of hers was in the Tai Chi group and she asked her friend to introduce her to Bill. Bill did not stand a chance; they dated for a year and a half and were married in 1981 in Fort Collins. Karen and Bill had two sons, Graham was born in 1985 and Dylan was born in 1986.
In 1988 Bill transferred to Corvallis with HP. The family lived in Corvallis until Dylan graduated high school. Karen has worked as a graphic designer and an interior designer. In 2004 the family moved to Salem to be closer to Karen’s employment. Bill and Karen retired in 2009 and moved to Bend in 2010, for the better weather and to live closer to Dylan.
Bill and Karen started taking dancing lessons in Bend, and the dance teacher recommended that the students look for opportunities to dance at the local social clubs. Bill looked at the Elk’s facility and liked everything about it. After joining, he became involved in the Elks activities and was appointed Chaplain in 2013 and Lodge Esquire in 2014. He plans to continue as an officer.
In addition to dancing, Bill’s hobbies are cross-country skiing, hiking, Tai Chi and computer games. He is on the website committee and helps with all of our many activities.
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