July 6, 2021
Memories of Bill Putzer
Bill was hardworking, generous and humble. He was a quiet leader. Given that Putzer Nursery was so close to Landscape Ontario’s home office, we would always reach out to Bill when we needed help. He always obliged with a smile. He cared deeply about the association and its members, serving on LO Growers’ Group for many years.
When we first moved the office to the present Halton Hills site, Bill and his father John planted two rows of Bradford pear trees right at the entrance. We did not ask for them. They were a gift to their association family. The trees are still thriving and will remain a pleasant and special memory of Bill and John. This gift was only the first of many. If we needed a machine to move trees around for Canada Blooms, we reached out to Bill. If we needed help with weeding the trial gardens, we knew who to call. When we wanted memorial trees to honour our pioneers, Bill quickly supplied them and would not once accept any payment. He told me memorial trees are priceless.
This generosity continued until the end. Three years ago when the office was being renovated we needed to remove rockery at the front of the building. David Turnbull, our property manager, reached out to Bill for a backhoe. Not only did Bill deliver the machine, he also operated it. Together Bill and David removed the rockery in record time, saving the association thousands of dollars. David told me they also had a lot of fun.
Here is an excerpt from Bill’s obituary that reflects his true nature:
“Bill was a farm boy, a very good man and well-respected and well regarded by many. He was true to his beliefs. To Bill, family and friends were paramount. He cared for his parents devotedly for 15 years, extending both their lives... Bill was a quiet leader. Bill’s co-workers excelled under his mentorship and guidance. He was a very good man to work with and for; he always had a smile, he had a warm and gentle presence and you could always count on him to listen, to be calm and to be kind. Bill was touched by the efforts of his workers to take the nursery through the spring rush while he lay in the hospital. Bill valued the magnitude of the gift they gave him.
Bill was a scuba diver and he loved exploring the world under the sea. He travelled to many unique places: Yap, Palau, Papua New Guinea, The Caribbean, Rotan, Cocos Island and many other places around the world. Bill was equally at home with people from all walks of life. Bill was no stranger to adversity; he faced many challenges and faced them all with dignity and honour right to the very end.”
A few months ago, we heard that Bill was ill. David Turnbull and I went to visit him. He had just come back from chemotherapy and was feeling sick, yet he made time for us. I was struck by his courage and his acceptance of the terminal nature of his illness. We talked about his childhood. It turns out that in the early 1960’s his family and my family lived in the same downtown Toronto neighbourhood. We both attended the same church. We were both altar boys.
One of my fondest memories of Bill was at his father’s funeral. I watched as he gently made sure that his frail mother was comfortable. He was a caring gentleman. His obituary said it best: “Bill’s gentle presence will be deeply missed. May he rest in peace.”
Bill Putzer operating the backhoe at the LO office.
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director
LO Executive Director