I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
William A. (Bill) Chapin has run his final race, finishing on May 16, 2022, in Fernandina Beach FL, on Amelia Island.
He was born in Watertown, NY, on April 16, 1943, to Richard D. and Ruth Rathbun Chapin. He grew up on Colorado Avenue in the house next to Chapin’s Flowers and began his involvement in the business as a child. From the time he was a toddler, he actually enjoyed shoveling snow and helped to clear the parking lot in front of the flower shop. He often rode in the delivery vehicle and was able, for any address in the city, to say which side of the street it was on and to name the cross streets on either side of the address. As he grew older, he helped with transplanting seedlings and developed a life-long love of gardening.
Bill attended Watertown schools, graduating from Watertown High School in 1961. He was a member of the National Honor Society. During his high school years, he ran cross country and track, specializing in distance running.
He attended Nyack College for one year, then transferred to Houghton College majoring in business. He participated in various sports during those years both intramural and intercollegiate.
While he was in college, his father’s drip irrigation business had developed to the point where Bill felt he needed to return home and help manage it. He began managing the business during his senior year in college, traveling home on a weekly basis. He remained in the business until it was sold to the Jain Corporation in 2006.
When he graduated from Houghton in 1965 and returned to Watertown, Bill not only managed Chapin Watermatics, but he also became involved in the community. He was active at the YMCA and joined Watertown Rotary Club. He continued to attend Parkside Bible Church as he had throughout childhood and teen years.
He and Ruth (Kratzat) met in the summer of 1966 at Parkside Bible Church when her parents moved to Watertown. Ruth still had two years of college, but they kept in touch, dating when she was home. Bill also took “business trips” to Chicago as Ruth was in a suburb in that area. They were married June 22, 1968 and had almost 54 wonderful years together. Bill recently gave Ruth a birthday card which said they were “the two most in-love people ever.”
Bill and Ruth adopted a three-week-old baby daughter in 1972, had a biological daughter in 1974, adopted an 11-year-old daughter in 1983, and had a biological son in 1986. Bill was a wonderful father to all his children. He expended great time and energy on their behalf. When the weather turned cold, he would spend entire nights outside creating a large ice rink in the backyard. He would come in, shower and dress for work, and then go out and skate dressed in his suit and tie before leaving for the office. In addition to his own children, children came from blocks around to enjoy the ice rink.
His love of snow was obvious in his activities. As a teen, he won trophies in competitions held in the Watertown city park. He had trophies for downhill skiing, cross country and jumping wearing the same pair of skis for all three types of events. As an adult, he delighted in going to Colorado on almost a yearly basis to ski, as well as being part of ski patrol at Dry Hill. In recent years, he promised Ruth he would stay off the black diamond trails in Colorado.
Throughout the years, Bill was active in the community. He was a Rotarian for over 55 years and was a Paul Harris fellow. He was especially interested in Rotary’s program to eradicate polio. During the past year, he has been attending the Fernandina Beach Rotary. He was the longest serving trustee at Watertown Savings Bank. He served for decades on the loan fund of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (Alliance Development Fund/Orchard Alliance). He had previously been a trustee of Nyack College for ten years. His involvements at Parkside Bible Church, Deferiet Union Church, and the Village Church at Shell Point (Fort Myers) are too numerous to list, but notably he was the Building Committee Chairman at the time the current sanctuary at Parkside Bible Church was constructed.
Currently Bill was also serving on the Houghton College Athletic Advisory Board and the Delta Lake Bible Conference Center Executive Committee. He was president of the board of Chapin Living Waters, which provides drip irrigation systems to subsistence farmers in the developing world.
Bill had extensive involvement in and many friends because of running. He had participated in the Boston Marathon and various races around the country. He captained relay teams for the Seneca Seven and Reach the Beach. He participated in the National Senior Games finishing as high as 4th in his age group. He was scheduled to participate in the 5K, 10K and 1500m in the Senior Games in Fort Lauderdale, but became ill four days before his first event.
Bill’s other interests included pickleball, softball, pinochle, and jigsaw puzzles at which he was expert. He also had a life-long interest in singing, participating in quartets and choirs. He and Ruth frequently sang together, and that began the very first evening he asked if he could drive her home from a party.
Bill is survived by his wife Ruth, three daughters Michelle Appleby and Laura Ellsworth of Watertown, and Janelle (Matt) Gelston of Fernandina Beach FL, and his son Nate (Karen) of Mountain View, CA. Also surviving are eleven grandchildren: Laurena Chapin, Will Kostoroski, Logan and Liam Ellsworth, Brianna and Braelynn Appleby, Meredith and Madeline Gelston, and Hannah, Samuel and Lydia Chapin. Other survivors are his brothers Donald of London UK, and Bob (Debbie) of Burnsville MN, and his sister Mary (Ron) Westcott of New Holland PA, as well as several cousins, nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at Parkside Bible Church in Watertown on June 30, 2022, at 7 PM.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Chapin Living Waters, 364 N. Colorado Ave, Watertown, NY 13601 or to a charity of your choice that represents Bill’s kind heart.
Arrangements are with the Reed & Benoit Funeral Home. Watertown.
Online condolences may be made at www.reedbenoit.com