On April 6, 2011, Willard Samuel "Bill" Fast passed away in Kalamazoo, MI.
Bill was born June 21, 1922, in Mountain Lake, MN, son of David and Justina (Warkentin) Fast. He was raised in a rural Mennonite household with 5 brothers and sisters. He was a graduate of Mountain Lake High School in 1940 and a veteran of the United States Navy, having served as a medical corpsman in the South Pacific Theater from 1942 to 1946. Bill spent a lifetime creating music – as a teacher, choral director & composer. He began playing piano at age 7 and cornet when he was 12. He received his bachelor of music & master's of music from Millikin University. Bill served as a high school choral director at several schools: Dixon, Ill.; Holland, MI; Alpena, MI, from 1946 to 1962. He was the instructor of music theory & composition and the choral director at Charles Stewart Mott Community College in Flint, MI from 1962 until 1982 when he retired from teaching. He directed numerous church and community choirs throughout his career, including the Flint Male Chorus. During his lifetime, Bill composed & published more than two dozen choral pieces. He was still composing up to the time of his death.
While at Western Michigan University for an officer's training school, he met & fell in love with Betty Jeanne Earl, whom he married on Feb. 1, 1947. They raised three children: David, Laurel & Robert. After his retirement, he and Betty moved to Battle Creek, MI for several years, then to Hastings, MI and Indianapolis, IN before coming to Kalamazoo, MI.
Bill loved words and ideas. He was an avid reader---of poetry, philosophy, religion and current events. He loved nothing more than a spirited discussion, debate, or good joke. He was a regular library user, and usually had four or five books that he was reading and was interested in discussing.
Interested in both sailing and flying, Bill found a way to become involved with both. At midlife, he wanted to learn to sail so he ended up building not one, but two, sailboats, which he would then sail on inland Michigan lakes. At age 71, he took flying lessons and soon flew his first solo flight. Nearly two years ago Bill celebrated his 87th birthday with a glider flight, and he predicted that his 88th birthday would be marked by his first parachute jump. Instead, his family arranged a flight in a WWII era bi-plane through a volunteer at the Air Zoo. He also enjoyed the challenge of golf. It fit his meticulous nature, and he enjoyed a good walk.
Bill took great pleasure in his family. He is survived by his wife, Betty; son, David (Janene) Fast of Rockford, MI; daughter, Laurel (Terry) Parrott of Kalamazoo; and son, Robb (Janis) Fast of St. Charles, MN; five grandsons, Ryan and Eric Fast of Rockford, MI; Jake Fast of Eugene, OR; Kirk (Stefanie) Parrott of Riverview, FL and Marc Parrott of Clearwater, FL; one great grandson, Kristofer Parrott; and two sisters, Liz (Gene) McBride and Salome Holsinger of Hesston, KS. He was preceded in death by his parents; his step-mother, Elizabeth; his sister, Erna; and his brothers, Marvin and Ferdinand.
In lieu of flowers, any gifts be given in Bill's memory to the Kalamazoo Public Library or The American Heart Association.