We learn in life never to say never. But I think I've found one special case in which it's OK to say never: I will never meet someone who reminds me of Bill Bregar.
The list of Bill Bregar anecdotes is too long to include here. When I've shared some with other people over the years, they often reply, "Did he really do that?" Let me just pick a small few.
Bill and I both came from blue-collar families in Northeast Ohio. His dad was an autoworker, my dad was a steelworker. We both grew up knowing the meaning of work, but it was still an inspiration to me early in my Plastics News career to see Bill pounding away at his keyboard late in the day when many people would be winding down. That led me to increase my efforts and made me a better reporter.
On the lighter side, Bill and I went to a few rock concerts in the Cleveland area together. At one, I was waiting for him on the sidewalk outside the concert venue. From a block away, I saw Bill walking toward me wearing one of the most garish shirts that we Plastics News employees were ever asked to wear at a trade show. It was brown and black but in this tropical pattern. The first thing Bill said to me was, "Oh good, I was worried you'd be wearing the same shirt." Classic Bill.
And finally, I find it incredibly fitting that the last email exchange I had with Bill — three days before he passed — was about the 1976 Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that won the hearts of Northeast Ohio sports fans when they won a thrilling NBA playoff series in what was called the Miracle of Richfield. Bill was at those home games with his brother Terry.
"The chanting started well before the teams even came in on the court before the game," Bill wrote. "When they walked out it was deafening. You literally had to cup your hands and yell right into each other's ear to be heard."
That also was classic Bill, waxing poetic about a sports memory from 44 years ago.
The plastics industry has lost one of its true heroes.
Frank Esposito is a Plastics News senior reporter based in Wickliffe, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @fesposito22.