If you knew Bill Bregar, you already know all this. But keep reading anyway, because we can all use a smile right now.
He loved being a reporter. Bill said it often, and he wrote it in his annual reviews: "Thank you for allowing me to continue to be employed in journalism."
Bill wanted to be first with big news, and he wanted his story to be the best. He almost always succeeded. His mom read Plastics News every week for years, and Bill wanted her to see his byline on Page 1.
He loved being part of a team. Many of his favorite stories involved multiple reporters, often scattered around the world, gathering information. Bill always wanted to do more project stories like that.
Bill liked mentoring every new person at Plastics News. He'd explain technology, set up plant visits and take people around trade shows to introduce them to key sources and show them working equipment, firsthand. When the new folks showed Bill that they wanted to learn, he made sure I knew.
Bill loved off-color humor. He's the guy who bought a "Cleveland Vibrator" hat, plus an extra one for a colleague. And then complained when his wife threw his away.
He'd start a sentence: "I probably shouldn't say this, but…," and I'd rush to stop him. He'd make an risqué remark, then crack up giggling — even if everyone else was rolling their eyes.
He loved comic books. If he found out that you liked them too, watch out … the next thing you know, you had a full mailbox. He even mailed comics to friends in Europe.
Bill loved newspapers. He wrote letters to the editor of his local papers, and he complained if they didn't run. The letters were always excellent, and most of the time they'd be published. He'd also cut out articles and opinion pieces that he liked and mail them to colleagues.
Bill also loved writing cards and letters. They were always handwritten, often difficult to decipher, but always cordial and thoughtful.
He loved coordinating the Processor of the Year award. You might wonder how someone so scattered, on the surface, could manage such a big project. But he excelled at it and came to personify the award. He'd help talk first-time candidates through the process of applying, giving them helpful advice that not only improved their entries but made them better places to work.
Bill loved covering the Plastics Hall of Fame, too. He was our resident historian, even when he was a young 20-something reporter. He interviewed all the new Hall of Fame members, almost always in person. Bill also interviewed just about every Society of Plastics Engineer leader, including the pioneers who started the organization in the 1940s.
He loved writing about young people, too. He wasn't a stereotypical boomer, complaining about young people. There was a little bit of that, poking fun at kids staring at their cellphones instead of experiencing life. But Bill preferred to write about apprentices and plastics engineering students over any other topic.