To most, the notice in the newspaper announcing that a man was killed in a one-car rollover in western Wyoming was just another one of those "Well, that's too bad" kind of situations.
To others, including this writer, the announcement that Bill Townsend was killed in a car accident was indeed very sad news.
That's because we lost a great friend and someone who was pretty passionate about the sport of snowmobiling. He really didn't want any recognition for what he did but rather for people to appreciate how good we have it in our sport. He was one of the most positive people this sport has-and probably ever will-know.
I met Bill years ago as our paths crossed in some snowmobile-related meeting. Since then, I have watched Bill in a number of different situations where his leadership skills and snowmobile riding skills were called into action. I can't honestly say every time I saw him in these situations that he was displaying that Cheshire-style smile of his . but I can say it was far more often than not. It seemed he was always smiling.
There was one time we were riding near Two Top many years ago and decided to go "a different way." Pretty soon things got ugly and we were in a spot. I remember that day very well, especially the part where Bill rode up, sized up the situation and then said something to this effect: "This isn't too bad, we'll be able to get right out." And then he went to work (he was one of the hardest working snowmobilers I know) fixing the situation. That happened two or three times. And he was always right there to help, never complaining but always with that grin on his face.
I saw that same "can do" attitude of his many a time over the next several years as he served in several leadership positions within our sport. There were times in meetings that things got pretty rough but I never saw that man lose his cool. He just rolled up his sleeves and worked hard on a solution, not becoming part of the problem.
I'm sure that Bill developed at least some of that patience during his many years of guiding snowmobilers and hunters. Wherever he learned it, we could all take a lesson from his attitude and "get it done" thinking.
Bill was never one to want to speak a lot from a podium or in some other similar situation and he didn't use a lot of flowery words . but when he did speak, people listened because they respected him and knew it would be worth their time to do so. Bill thought things through and almost always came up with a solution that would work.
Bill held a lot of fairly heavy and responsible positions-from president of the Wyoming State Snowmobile Association to chapter chair of the Western Chapter of ACSA. Oh yea, and he was very instrumental in the World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb at Jackson Hole. He did get recognition for much of his work in this industry as he was named Snowmobiler of the Year for ACSA. But that isn't why he was involved. He was involved in this sport because he loved to snowmobile and he thought others should have the opportunity to do so too, so he worked to make it happen.
We lost not only a great friend but a tireless worker for our cause.
So long Bill. You may be gone but you'll never be forgotten. I'll be honored to ride again with you someday.
The American Council of Snowmobile Associations has been working with Bill's family and has created a Bill Townsend Memorial Scholarship Fund.?Because of Bill's constant promotion of snowmobiling, his interest in fighting to maintain access to public lands and his involvement with safe snowmobiling, we thought it would be an appropriate tribute to Bill. Contributions can be made to the Bill Townsend Memorial Scholarship Fund and mailed to Teri Manning, P.O. Box 4339, Jackson, WY? 83001.