Bill Constine, editor of the Independent Newsgroup since 1989, died Monday, Jan. 11.
There are many wonderful things that can be said about Bill Constine – way too many for me to list. Bill was not only my boss, but he was a mentor and my friend. Before my writing days, I worked in the office at the Independent for 10 years, working one-on-one with Bill getting the papers out to press every week. After my mom’s passing in 2013 Bill asked me if I would consider writing for him. I wasn’t too sure, my mom was the writer, not me. I’ll never forget what he told me. He said that he knew that I had a talent for writing and that all those years I had been watching and observing my mom were going to pay off. He had faith in me, complete faith. That meant the world to me, especially at a time when I was still reeling from my mom’s passing. He took me under his wing and helped me learn to love writing, and also made me understand why my mom loved it so much.
So, to the soft-spoken, gentle man with a big heart, I say thank you for all you have done for me, goodbye for now and God Bless. I will miss you Bill.
-Melissa Shepard, associate editor
I will forever remember that Bill would always lock the side office door when he would leave if other staff members were working late. This exceedingly small gesture is truly representative of who he was; his concern for others, for the community and for the newspaper. The intricate details were always important to him. I learned from observing him over the many years we worked together, that a writer can build worlds on those small details by paying attention and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together.
-Karen Mead-Elford, special sections editor
What does one say about a man who for the past 19 years was my editor and colleague?
I was by all means shocked when I received a phone call from The Independent Monday, Jan. 11 with the news that Bill had died suddenly and quite unexpectedly at his home.
Bill would have found it ironic and perhaps a bit amusing that his passing would become a news item not only for The Independent but for publications throughout the area.
His decades-long news career in both broadcast and print media speaks for itself.
Early in his career his distinctive voice made him a personality on the WOAP radio station and later, after working as a contributing writer for The Flint Journal, he became the editorial “voice” of The Independent.
No one will dispute that Bill loved the news whether it was covering an event at the Shiawassee Arts Council or a performance at the Lebowsky Center or covering a political meeting, court case or social gathering.
Over my 45 years working both in corporate, non-profit and public print media I have known Bill for at least 35 of those years. There were times when we worked for competing newspapers. There were times when we worked for the same newspaper.
I have to admit that we didn’t always see things the same way but we respected each other because we were colleagues. As colleagues we developed a working friendship and respected each other’s work and writing styles.
To Bill the news was the news and he would often challenge me to write in areas of the news that I was not entirely comfortable working. “Do your best,” he would say and almost always he would end the conversation with “Good Luck.”
As our next The Independent news issue deadline encroaches into the day’s shock and disbelief over Bill’s passing, I cannot help but think about how much he will be missed at The Independent and from the fabric of this community in the days to come.
-Helen Granger, staff writer
One of my first remembrances of Bill Constine was when we were sitting in the proofreading room at the Independent and heard a fire truck pass by the office with its siren blaring. Without getting up out of his chair, or even peering out a window, Bill looked up and commented, “That was Caledonia Township Fire Department. Wonder where they are headed?” At that moment I thought to myself, “How in the world did he know which township it was, just by hearing a siren?” I was amazed.
Bill was a walking Owosso/Corunna encyclopedia. He not only recalled events and dates, but could often spew out a time and what he was doing on that day. If you named someone, he could tell you how long the person has lived in Shiawassee County and whether they graduated from an area school or not. He could remember how much last year’s gallon of milk was auctioned off for at the fair and had vivid stories of a parade mishap or a tragic accident. He knew city/township meeting protocol like a county clerk.
Most of all, he loved his job. He would often lament about the frustrations of heading out late at night or on a Saturday afternoon to cover a story, but he relished in the fact that he could. And he did. With his passing goes so much Shiawassee County history. Details, memories, story slants and times will never be the same without Bill Constine’s impression. News will never be the same.
-Elizabeth Wehman, contributing writer
Our area has suffered a great loss in the passing of longtime Independent editor and reporter Bill Constine. As a journalist, Bill was relentless in his coverage of numerous stories each week in our area. It was common knowledge that a public event didn’t truly start until Bill arrived, camera and notepad in hand.
Bill covered the Owosso City Council meetings for many years, rarely missing a meeting. His presence allowed for the public to continually be aware of what the council was working on within a historic context dating back to our charter adoption in the 1960s. I and many others in public life benefited from his encyclopedic knowledge of city and county history and people. His discretion and professionalism were well known.
Bill’s loss will be felt by this region for years to come and our prayers are with his family at this time.
-Mayor Ben Frederick