ForeverMissed
William “Bill” Neikirk was an award-winning reporter, columnist, author and frequent commentator on CNN and other outlets. He was chief economics and White House correspondent during the Carter administration, and Washington Bureau news editor for the Chicago Tribune in the 1970s and early 1980s. He later served as the newspaper’s assistant managing editor for business news in Chicago and then returned to Washington to cover the Clinton White House.

Bill worked as a reporter for the Associated Press in Lexington and Frankfort, Kentucky, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, prior to joining the Tribune. His numerous awards included the Merriman Smith Award for presidential reporting in 1995 and the Gerald Loeb Award for business writing in 1979. He was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize that year for a series on the impact of foreign trade.

He also wrote three books: “Volcker: Portrait of the Money Man,” “The Work Revolution: How High-Tech Is Sweeping Away Old Jobs and Industries and Creating New Ones in New Places” (with Gail Schwartz) and “The Copperhead Club,” a fictional thriller written by hand while traveling on the Washington D.C. metro.

Born in Irvine, Ky., Bill had 11 siblings -- 9 brothers and 2 sisters. He got the journalism bug in high school, where one of his teachers was Walter Tevis, who wrote "The Hustler." Later at the University of Kentucky, he was editor of the university newspaper and met the love of his life, Ruth Ann Clary, his wife of 59 years. Bill is also survived by three children, Greg (Jeannette), John (Lisa) and Christa (Kevin), and two grandchildren, Isabella and Matthew.

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In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the William Robert Neikirk Scholarship Fund, which supports students receiving a college education in communications. Donations can be sent to: University of Kentucky, at the Gift Receiving Office, 210 Malabu Drive, Suite 200, Lexington, KY 40502, or at https://bit.ly/2xwienB

*Chicago Tribune Obituary: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obituaries/ct-...

*Washington Post Obituary: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/william-neikirk-white-house-and-economics-writer-for-chicago-tribune-dies-at-82-of-coronavirus/2020/08/31/e0a161b8-e8b1-11ea-bc79-834454439a44_story.html

*More about Bill and the Copperhead Club: https://www.williamneikirk.com/

*Legacy.com: https://www.legacy.com/guestbooks/chicagotribune/w...

*Bill on C-Span: https://www.c-span.org/person/?williamneikirk

*ALTERNATIVE WAY TO LEAVE A TRIBUTE OR STORY:
EMAIL RUTHNEIKIRK@YAHOO.COM


Posted by Diane Allard on August 27, 2021
Ruth, John, Christa, Greg,
Hard to believe a year has passed since we lost Bill. Still fondly remember his long pauses while swimming laps. The catching up with friends always was more important than counting the presidents (in order). Love to all of you.
Diane & Hunt Allard
Posted by Brenda Wilson on August 27, 2021
Dear Ruth and all the Neikirks,
As a Splash Girl, I am honored and indebted to Bill for crafting such a wonderful and fitting name that has so perfectly united us! The Splash Girl family lives on and perpetuates Bill's fun-loving spirit!! I can see him swimming laps and making everyone's morning brighter as if it were yesterday.
Much love,
Brenda Wilson, Splash Girl
Posted by Kathleen Moore on August 27, 2021
Dearest Ruth and all the Neikirks,
I am thinking of all of you today with love as I reflect on Bill and his gifts and depth, humor, and questions of life. How much he contributed to this world! His contributions are eternal and I send each of you comfort on this anniversary of his passing. Much love, Kathleen
Posted by Admin Neikirk on November 19, 2020
Ann Marie L.
Yes, Bill was a gifted journalist. But he was a rare human being, endlessly kind and generous. I will forever be grateful for his support and wisdom.
Posted by Admin Neikirk on November 19, 2020

Jeff Z.
Bill was so incredibly generous to new reporters. We learned from his wisdom of Washington and his pure kindness.
Posted by Admin Neikirk on November 19, 2020

In honor of my former colleague at the Tribune Washington bureau. In addition to being a upstanding person, Bill was a rock steady journalist.
Pete S.



Posted by Admin Neikirk on November 7, 2020
I used to think COVID-19 happened but to others. Then it hit my family.

BY MARK NEIKIRK 
SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 11:14 AM


I was with friends recently, testing the waters of social distancing outside the home, when one asked, “Does any of you know anyone with COVID?”
The subtext was clear: This whole thing is overblown. Well, I told them, I know someone who died, someone whose parents nearly died while on ventilators, and someone my age (60s) who had just tested positive. 
Truth be told, though, the pandemic still felt distant. It was happening but to others. 
No more. William Robert Neikirk, a pioneering journalist in the field of economics reporting, died on the afternoon of Aug. 27. The cause of death was complications from his long and difficult struggle with dementia coupled with complications from COVID 19. Bill was my uncle.
His career started here, at this newspaper as a sports stringer while attending the University of Kentucky. Those early years produced a favorite assignment – covering a high school basketball game at which Herky Rupp was on the bench. His father, the legendary Adolph, was in the stands and alternated between clinical analysis of the game and paternal frustration: “The thought came to me that the tables were being turned on this famous coach who had many times kept youngsters sitting anxiously on the bench while their fathers watched from the stands. Eventually, though, Herky was sent into the game. Adolph beamed.
Bill wrote that recollection in 1985 when he was with the Chicago Tribune. It was a respite from covering world trade and monetary policy, but it was also typical of his approach to reporting: find the odd angle, find the humanity. His intent was to make economics relatable to all readers. He once took a guided tour of the Fort Knox vault so he could report on whether the gold was still there, gleaming and real. People were wondering. Maybe the government was lying. He assured them otherwise.
After college, Bill polished his skills at the Associated Press, first in Frankfort in the early 1960s. He moved to Louisiana, where he covered Pistol Pete Maravich one day, the Civil Rights Movement the next. He broke into national affairs in 1968 when AP put him on the team covering the Republican convention that nominated Nixon. There is a great old photo in the AP archives of Bill on press row, phone cradled to his ear and fingers on the typewriter – the very image of the term “working journalist.” Within a year, he moved to AP’s Washington bureau. 
Bill drew on his boyhood when he covered economic affairs. Our family is from Irvine in Estill County, a railroad town at the mountains’ edge. He and most of his 11 siblings left for the military or college or marriage but returned for family gatherings at my grandmother’s house on Kirkland Avenue, a half block from the general store with its candy counter and its dirt path to the Kentucky River and a rope swing. Those made the house something of child’s paradise, though the generation before us had known real hardship there. The family farm was lost during the Great Depression. His family’s story was never out of mind when Bill wrote about the forces that make an economy tick. Or fail.
The same great heart that made Bill a better journalist made him a spectacular uncle. In March 2002, his older brother, my father, Marshall Neikirk, died of cancer. Less than four months later, I was in the hospital for cancer surgery. Bill and his wife, Ruth, sat with me through the night. When I woke periodically from the post-surgery fog, I would hear them chatting away in the most cheerful fashion. What a gift they gave me by their presence.
Bill’s own cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, came a few years later. With his treatment successful, he retired from the Trib, and imagined a life of travel, time with grandchildren, editing the church newsletter and finishing his first novel, “The Copperhead Club,” set in DC and in a Kentucky town you might mistake for Irvin
The dementia was gentle at first. Bill was able to finish the novel and come home to Estill County for a book signing. Ruth took names down on Post-it notes, so Bill could transcribe them in each book. To see them together, these two college sweethearts, was to see the very image of the marriage vow. In sickness and in health. 
The end was unkind. Ill herself, Ruth’s could not be with Bill for the last hours. Within a day of his death, she would be in the hospital with COVID-19. Others in their immediate family would test positive, too.
I tell Bill’s story – our family’s story – with the hope that those who want to diminish COVID-19 might pause and listen to families in the pathway of the disease. It is taking something from us. 
I’ve heard it said that many who have died were sick already. I suppose that is true, and a recent Centers for Disease Control report confirmed as much. But what point is being made? Is it that those with underlying health issues are not worthy of our sacrifices, our compassion or our investments in better care? They are. Rest in peace, uncle.

Read more here: https://www.kentucky.com/opinion/op-ed/article245497720.html#storylink=cpy
Posted by Meg Grattan on November 4, 2020
Sending lots of love and prayers to the Niekirk family. We loved Bill. He was a wonderful neighbor and a friend. I think about him every sunny day and miss seeing him sitting in the driveway enjoying the weather. Blessings. The Grattan Family
Posted by Joe Kress on November 1, 2020
Ruth, Greg, John, Christa,
   My condolences in the Loss, yet what a privilege to have had time with Bill. 
Yours, with warm embrace,  Joe Kress
Posted by Bruce Japsen on November 1, 2020

Always enjoyed working with Bill who was a great newsman. It was always a professional learning experience for myself in Chicago and other reporters to share a byline with Bill via the Tribune Washington Bureau. God bless and may he rest in peace.
Posted by Admin Neikirk on November 1, 2020
My Uncle Bill grew up in Estill County, Ky., and his teachers there recognized in him a talent for storytelling. Those teachers told a boy from deeply rural Kentucky born to a family that lost its farm in the Great Depression that he could grow up to be a writer of consequence. Bill became one of the nation's most highly regarded economics writers on the strength of his talent, his teachers' recognition and encouragement of that talent, and a education at the University of Kentucky in journalism and economics. Talent. Encouragement. An education. Those three things are a powerful combination. Bill and his family have set up a scholarship fund at UK for the next son or daughter of the Kentucky mountains who wants to go to UK and study
journalism. Please consider a gift to the scholarship fund in Bill's memory. On behalf of the Neikirk family, thank you.
Posted by Brenda Wilson on November 1, 2020
Bill lives forever in our memory as the one who so wisely and cleverly united us as 'Splash Girls'. His presence always brightened the early morning swims at Yorktown and we miss him.

Brenda / Splash Girl
Posted by Elaine Povich on October 31, 2020
When I was hired at the Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau to cover the federal budget and taxes, I became the second economics reporter too. Neikirk was the first. He was, head, shoulders and torso above my paltry knowledge of economics. But he never lorded it over me. Instead, he taught. I learned nearly everything I know about macro economics from him. And lots about life and journalism too. He was a fine writer and coworker, who I was proud to call my friend. Rest easy, old pal.
Posted by Kathleen Moore on October 31, 2020
Bill and Ruth were members of my church for thirteen years and gave so much, loved so much, served so much. Just before Easter, 2011, a young man was discovered behind our outdoor chapel cross in the woods. He had died there the night before. Bill wrote this poem about Easter, this man, the Safe Haven homeless day shelter run by our church, Easter service early outdoors the Hallelujah Chorus, and hope. When he mentions Ken Vandruff coming down to sing, he is referencing a beloved church member who was suffering from heart failure yet sang in his wheel chair to all our amazement. In this poem Bill makes clear the hope he lived with, despite his natural journalistic skepticism, and what Easter gave to him.

Easter 2011 by Bill Neikirk

Amid the rumble beside Route Seven,
Easter came with a sunny heaven,
Even as we all mourned a death,
A homeless man whose final breath,
Came under the stars near the chapel cross,
Among the weeds and dirt and moss,
To us he was a person, real,
Since he'd come by to share a meal,
Free for all if one is able,
At Safe Haven's feeding table,
Where we've learned our lessons well,
Where joy and sadness often swell,
Where we know that hope can gain,
Amid the suffering and the pain,
And so we waved a daisy cross,
With bright and shiny Easter gloss,
And dined upon an Easter table,
And talked with Jack and Bob and Mabel,
We listened to the trumpets play,
A sermon, a prayer for Easter day,
And something Handel wrote just for us,
The soaring Hallelujah Chorus,
Down the aisle we came to sing,
On key or off, we made it ring,
And if that magic was not enough,
Down the aisle came Ken Vandruff,
To add his voice to the growing crowd,
And in the din his voice was loud,
Hope often speaks in such display,
And life fights hard to find a way,
That was our Easter, two thousand eleven,
Amid the rumble beside Route Seven.


Posted by Kathleen Moore on October 31, 2020
My experiences with Bill and Ruth were deep and abiding and his loss is enormous to us all.

I first met Bill and Ruth while serving as the Associate Interim Minister at Rock Spring Congregational UCC in Arlington in 2001. I remember so many things from these first two years (2001-3) at Rock Spring, followed by thirteen more as their pastor at First Christian Church, Falls Church.

I’ll never forget the evening we were having an “Anti-Racism/Pro-reconciliation” workshop at Rock Spring with the anti-racism team I had been trained to work with. He and Ruth listened intently, asked (as always) probing questions, and then shared what they experienced while Bill, a political writer for the AP in 1967, and Ruth teaching school in the deep south experienced. Bill was covering the infamous trial of 18 men charged with conspiracy in the murders of three young civil rights workers — James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner outside Philadelphia, Miss. Their testimony was riveting, authentic, and deeply passionate. I knew at that moment that Bill and Ruth would always listen, then question any assumptions, to get to the truth. They would not accept convention, nor run with popular wisdom. I loved this about them. As a trained investigative journalist, he would never just “accept” a statement. It must be verified. This became a common pattern in our beautiful, pastoral relationship that continued, even until his passing.

When I left Rock Spring in 1993 and became the Senior Minister at First Christian, Falls Church, Bill and Ruth joined First Christian and immediately began to bless, give, and contribute to the rich congregational life located there. They created our pictorial directory within a year of arriving and Bill took all the photos while Ruth organized and produced. They cooked for Safe Haven (the churches day shelter for the homeless), contributed clothes and supplies (and got all their friends to), built a multi-media library (Spanish and English) in the fellowship hall so the homeless and working poor could read, learn, and find solace in the space. They helped support The Meeting House Vision, which became our churches transformation into a Community Center. Bill’s search for God found its way to all of us through his poetry, his photographs, his writing. He teamed up with Rock Spring’s Ashley Martinage to write and produce our monthly newsletter (which became a beautiful theological journal, filled with think pieces and in-depth stories). Bill would interview members of the church and locate their gifts, contributions, and uniqueness. He would edit. He would create. He would ponder. The time he and Ashley spent was legion and I prize with affection and awe each and every Newsletter they produced.

Bill was very active with the Gridiron Club in DC and would always test his witty lyrics on me! I loved his caustic humor and was so thrilled to attend the great journalistic/political gathering in 2007 with his family when he served as President of the club. I bought my one and only floor length gown for this evening (which sits in my closet and reminds me of that magical night) hobnobbing with the political elite. He proudly introduced me as “my pastor” to the Vice-President of the United States, as well as other notables. I loved to hear his stories as he would fly with the President all over the world. And when Ruth met Bill Clinton? Well, I will leave her to tell that story!

Bill’s diagnosis of cancer, and long journey through treatment was terrifying yet grace-filled. One day, after a long visit, when the chemotherapy was oppressively dreadful, I massaged Bill’s feet as they were losing feeling from the treatment. There were no more words. I was called late and he had been re-admitted to the hospital. His white blood cell count was down to zero. He almost died… Ruth was miraculous in her devotion…

…and then he didn’t. The strongest, most toxic round of chemotherapy managed to obliterate the cancer and his strong force of life prevailed. I cannot remember a sense of gratitude so profound as when I was able to see him the next day; his smile, his very life a gift from God.

Bill improved, strengthened, and began writing with more passion and drive. Poetry, his novel (he refused to show it to me as he was writing it, waiting for the conclusion, and editing). The church began making some decisions that were difficult for Bill and Ruth. One was cancelling the early worship service and combining both services for a 10:15 single service. They loved the early service, as did others. We created something different that met even earlier (Bill and Ruth could still swim!). A small group of us gathered for five years (it still continues) at 8 am where we were able to share a far more intimate and personal faith. During this time, Bill and Ruth asked deep questions of God and Bill, ever the contrarian, would test me every Sunday. After a bit, though, they became more infrequent and we eventually discovered that Bill was struggling. The Newsletter had ceased its production. Bill (and Ruth) were working feverishly on his novel, and their life was changing. It was not long before Bill was struggling too much to come at all, and their struggle became private. Thank God for their kids, swimming friends and neighbors who cared so beautifully for them both. Ruth was Bill’s protector, shield, and defender during these difficult days. How I admire her love and commitment!

I retired from congregational ministry in 2016 and together (though independently) we re-joined Rock Spring UCC and the amazing ministry team (that now included Ashley). I was able to see Bill while Christmas caroling and one final time just before he contracted Covid. I choose to believe that, despite his illness, he was fully present in heart and soul and as he raised his arm and hand, he pronounced a blessing which will be with me the rest of my life. 

God’s richest blessings be with you, Ruth, John and Lisa, Greg, Christa, Isabella and Matthew as you remember your beloved husband, dad, father-in-law and grandfather I still see you in candlelight singing “Silent Night.” Bill will always be with you.
Posted by Lynne Willhoit on October 28, 2020
I will miss Bill's subtle sense of humor, insights, and interest in other people. My life is brighter for having known him. He is missed.
Posted by Admin Neikirk on October 24, 2020
Sending my love to Ruth and the entire family. I enjoyed swimming next to Bill at Yorktown, and we took many chatting breaks. He was a gem.

Amy Allbright
Friend

(originally posted on legacy.com)

Posted by Admin Neikirk on October 24, 2020
I worked with BIll for many years, first as a wire-service rival, later as a Tribune colleague and collaborator. He was simply the best, a first-rate pro, a fine writer and great reporter who could see the long trends in the daily minutiae and make sense for readers of a baffling world. More, he was an eminently decent man, fair in his judgments, with the ethical basis that defines the best of journalism. I was privileged to work with him and to know him as a friend. My deepest condolences go to Ruth and his family.

Richard Longworth
Coworker

(originally posted on legacy.com)
Posted by Admin Neikirk on October 24, 2020
I had the pleasure and privilege to work with Bill during my time at the Tribune. He was a great colleague. Thoughts and best wishes go out to his family.

Howard Finberg
Coworker

(originally posted on legacy.com)
Posted by Admin Neikirk on October 24, 2020
Somewhere I might have the clip where Bill Neikirk gave me a tagline. I was a very green intern in the summer of 1999 at the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush was visiting the Capitol that day. Bill asked me to stakeout Sen. Orrin Hatch who was also seeking the GOP nomination. I got the information and recommended to Bill how much play he should give it in his story. Bill used it but buried it in his story.

The next day, after seeing how his competition had made Hatch's news a much bigger deal along the lines that I had recommended to Bill, he told me that I was right after all. Imagine being a seasoned reporter and telling an intern that you were wrong and they were right.

It's a great lesson in humility and it shows what a remarkable human being Bill Neikirk was. May he rest in peace.

Paul McKibben
Coworker

(originally posted on legacy.com)
Posted by Admin Neikirk on October 24, 2020
I first ran into Bill Neikirk in early 1970. He had just put in eight years as an Associated Press correspondent in Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort, and Baton Rouge. And he had come to Washington to cover politics and government. It was a big step.
Since both of us were journalists, we saw each other frequently over the next few years—at press conferences, meetings, and other events. And we quickly became friends. In 1974, Bill moved to the Chicago Tribune’s Washington bureau, starting a career with the paper that would span another 34 years—first as an economics writer, and then as a White House correspondent, a news editor, an assistant managing editor for financial news, a syndicated columnist, and an independent author.
By any measure, Bill had a rich career. Along with all his work for the Tribune, he wrote two non-fiction books, received eight major journalism awards, and was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1979. Besides his journalistic accomplishments, he also wrote for fun: He jotted off elegant, often funny poetry, which he gave to his wife. And he hammered out a novel—called The Copperhead Club—that he wrote on the subway.
But Bill’s professional achievements were only part of what made him so well-loved. I’ll always remember him for the kind of person he was—a man of impeccable integrity; naturally modest; generous to others; patient with the people who worked with him; upbeat and positive in the face of adversity; a loving family man, who made time for his wife and children no matter how heavy his workload. He had a delightful, often wry sense of humor. And he was quick to help others whenever he could.
Bill spent his last few years coping with worsening dementia and, ultimately, Covid-19. Yet, his story would be incomplete without paying homage to Ruth. For 59 years of marriage, she and Bill lived out what was a storybook romance. They supported each other in good times and bad. And she was his devoted caretaker in his final years. Her efforts were inspirational—dedicated, unceasing, and always loving, in the face of discouraging odds. All of us who saw her in this role watched with admiration. We know that her love for Bill will continue forever.
Thank you, Ruth. May God bless you.
Art Pine
Posted by Admin Neikirk on October 23, 2020
August 31, 2020
l knew Bill from our student days at the University of Kentucky where he was editor of the college newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel. He went on from there to have an outstanding career in journalism while being a loving husband and father and a loyal friend to his extended family and friends. Bill made a difference in many lives and will be sorely missed. My loving condolences are extended to Ruth Ann and family.
Joy Fogg
Friend

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Diane Allard on August 27, 2021
Ruth, John, Christa, Greg,
Hard to believe a year has passed since we lost Bill. Still fondly remember his long pauses while swimming laps. The catching up with friends always was more important than counting the presidents (in order). Love to all of you.
Diane & Hunt Allard
Posted by Brenda Wilson on August 27, 2021
Dear Ruth and all the Neikirks,
As a Splash Girl, I am honored and indebted to Bill for crafting such a wonderful and fitting name that has so perfectly united us! The Splash Girl family lives on and perpetuates Bill's fun-loving spirit!! I can see him swimming laps and making everyone's morning brighter as if it were yesterday.
Much love,
Brenda Wilson, Splash Girl
Posted by Kathleen Moore on August 27, 2021
Dearest Ruth and all the Neikirks,
I am thinking of all of you today with love as I reflect on Bill and his gifts and depth, humor, and questions of life. How much he contributed to this world! His contributions are eternal and I send each of you comfort on this anniversary of his passing. Much love, Kathleen
his Life

Crawfish

From Bill’s speech at the Estill County Development Alliance 1998

What I miss a lot these days are crawdads. I know some people call them crawfish but I’m just an Irvine boy. I rarely see them where I live now.  In Estill County they were everywhere when I was growing up.  They were so funny the way they walked backward and so menacing when threatened.  They would fight back and take a nip out of you if you were not careful. I’ve got a few nips to show for it.  Crawdads are not the only thing I miss. I miss the fish jumping on the river at daybreak, with the mist rising from the water and the waves slapping against my boat.  I miss the wild blackberries, the apple and peach trees, I miss the Knobs, which you can climb in the morning and be back home in time for lunch. I miss the easy familiarity and comfort of a small town and a real community of people who have known me since I was a mere boy. 


Bill's words from a postcard 5/9/78
"Dear Ruth and kids,
 Met Vice President Teng at a press conference, then toured a commune and factory. Slippery roads to The Great Wall. Attended a cultural event at Great Hall,quite a place, but I've seen better on t.v. Combination of arias, orchestral, dance and song-pianist was great. Love, Bill

Bill's Notebook

In Bill's own words:

The tin can- a useless item once it had been opened and consumed, right?   Our parents would swish them with water and usually throw them in the trash. Or they might get thrown into the creek which would dirty things up.  But oh, the ingenuity of a big family, and many other kids, who made the tin can a utility that substituted for things that many people  could not afford. The tin can was, in many instance, our baseball.  It was easy to hit but hard to make long hits that resulted in home runs.  We used broomsticks as the bats and set up bases just like in the major leagues.  It was more fun when a fresh can was whacked and  it  would soar through the sky, floating only without any certainty. If the can was beaten to the point where  cut marks opened up in one's hand when catching it, a substitute or new can was employed to start the process all over again 


I wasn't much of a tin can hitter, but many of my other brothers were.  It was played by neighbors, not by just one family alone. It deepened the relationship we had with them.  


 
Recent stories

Finding God's Peace, a story written by Bill in 2010

Shared by Kathleen Moore on October 31, 2020
I was fortunate to serve as Bill and Ruth's Pastor for almost 15 years. Here, he speaks for himself. What a great man and how I miss him...

Shared by Admin Neikirk on October 24, 2020
Ruth remembers

Purcells

Our life together began in Purcells department store in Lexington, Kentucky. We were 18 years old and freshmen college students, Bill at University of Kentucky and I at Transylvania. It was December 1960-Christmas time. I had a part-time job as clerk at the cosmetics counter. Bill had a part-time job as bus boy at the Purcells cafeteria adjacent to the store. The cosmetics counter was the first counter one could see if walking through the big glass doors from the cafeteria. I don't know if I found him first while buying a lunch at the cafeteria or whether he saw me at the counter and decided to hang out around it. That's what he did after he got off work. We were young and shy but mesmerized with each other. While I assisted customers, he waited patiently for me to be free to talk. I found out very little about him. He was from a large family who lived in a little town in the Knobs (hills) of Kentucky.  We shared that both of us had lost our fathers, mine when I was 5 and his when he was 12. I'm sure we talked abut our universities, sports, and anything else we were comfortable with in conversation. The days before Christmas went fast and he said he was going home to see his mother and siblings.

During the holiday, my mother told our relatives that I was in love. My family excitedly said "who is it?"  I said a guy at the store. "Well, great! Who is he?" My family members couldn't believe me when I answered, "I don't know his name."  How could that be, that he and I had seen each other for several days and not once did we ask each other our name. I hoped he would be back working part-time in the New Year. All I could think about was him, and I knew that I had to see him again and hope that he felt the attraction like I felt. His bus boy jacket had the initials BN on the pocket. For the rest of the holiday I was thinking about his name-Bob Nelson? Ben Norris? Buddy Neil?????

January 2, the cafeteria was open. I saw him immediately. I smiled and got in the lunch line. As I paid the cashier, he broke the order of bus boys so as to carry my tray. I asked him if he would be free on an upcoming Saturday night, that there was going to be a Sadie Hawkins dance and I would like for him to go with me. He said "sure" and " can I walk you home after lunch. I get off soon." There are no words to describe how I felt when he said that; I just know
that I was smitten with pure joy. 

As we walked home, either he or I asked about our names. He was Bill Neikirk. His surname, Neikirk, is a German name with Dutch influence meaning "new church." My surname, Clary, is Scotch Irish. The topic of names was interesting, and I'm sure talking about them relaxed our shyness.

After meeting my mother, we shared family information and I found that he was so comfortable to be with. He asked me to go out to a movie that evening. I quickly said "YES," and broke a date with a Transy guy. That was the beginning of a romance that lasted almost 64 years.



 
Shared by Admin Neikirk on October 24, 2020
Ruth remembers
There were times in Bill's life when  he had ceaseless energy. One such time was in November 2003. We got up before daybreak and headed for West Virginia to our cabin in the woods.  The sun came up and Bill was on the roof cleaning leaves. After all other winterizing chores were done, we locked up the cabin and headed to the Christmas Tree Farm. There we selected two six-foot high concolored fir trees, tied them to the top of the car, and headed to Wall
Mart to do some Christmas shopping. After an hour there, we loaded our purchases and treated ourselves to a lovely breakfast at a nearby restaurant.

After the two-plus-hour  drive back home, Bill unloaded all of the packages and Christmas trees, took a shower, and  put on his Washington D.C. "uniform" (suit and tie). I drove him to the Metro. He called me before noon saying he had arrived in time for the important interview at 12:15. I said "What important interview?" "Just another one with the Treasury Secretary." he said.

In the evening, I picked up Bill at the Metro at his usual time. "Did you start decorating a tree?" he said.