It only takes one split second for your life to change
forever, or be ended. Bill Finn can tell you all about that experience.
Graduating from Sycamore High School in 1965, Bill worked
for a while at a construction job site at Northern Illinois University,
then was drafted into the U.S. Army at age 19 where he was trained
to be a medic. After that he was shipped to Vietnam. On Feb.
22, 1967, he turned 20 and three days later his unit was caught
in an ambush and he was shot by an enemy sniper. The bullet severed
his spinal cord but did not kill him.
Life as he knew it changed drastically at age 20, but now
at age 68, he leads an almost normal life inSycamore, except
he is a paraplegic, paralyzed from the waist down. To see Bill
driving his van or working in DeKalb County Circuit Clerks
office you would never know he has a disability, unless you notice
Bill Finn is shown at his workplace computer in the
DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore, IL along with his wife
Maggie and (in back) office colleague Trish Diedrich.
by Barry Schrader)
After being shot, he was rushed to a field hospital, then
another hospital, then off to Walter Reed Army Medical Center
for six weeks, finally ending up at the Hines VA Hospital in
Illinois for about a year, he recalls.
It was then that his parents lives were also changed
drastically when they brought him home to Sycamore and gave him
24/7 care. They built an addition onto their home to accommodate
his wheelchair and his mother became a full-time caregiver.
Fortune smiled on Bill one night in 1981, when he went
to a local restaurant and met a friendly bartender named Maggie.
With a smile she said Bill stalked her after that
first encounter, and he admits to pursuing her, going out on
many dates and having good times. She agreed to marry him about
10 months later. After living with his parents a few years they
were able to build their own home with special accommodations
for his wheelchair.
Their union has lasted 33 years and is still going strong.
They have three adult kids to show for it Megan, 30, Max,
26 and Will, 21. Bill also proudly points out they have three
grandkids as well.
But life has not been easy these past 48 years. He has
had many hospitalizations, even getting hit and severely injured
several years ago in his wheelchair in a Little Rock, Arkansas,
parking lot when a driver didnt see him. The resulting
back injury never healed and he spent time again in Hines Hospital
the past three years, finally recently getting back to his courthouse
He will tell you how much he enjoys the staff and the work in
the Circuit Clerks office, doing data entry, handling paperwork
for warrants and other court-related matters four hours a day,
three days a week.
Talking to his boss Circuit Clerk Maureen Josh, she said,
It is awesome what Bill does in the office, first
starting out as a volunteer about 15 years ago, then taking on
a paid job a few years later. She added that the office knows
he is a die-hard Cubs fan, but also backs the Bears and loves
NASCAR. He and Maggie have traveled to race tracks as far away
as Florida, driving his specially-equipped van with all hand
Josh told how much the staff enjoys him and what a wonderful
friend he has become. She added: It is hard to imagine
how wars can affect peoples lives. I am so pleased to be
working with him, very honored and proud to know him.
FINAL COLUMN, FAREWELL
So long, its been good to know you, is
my refrain once again as I have decided to put the dust cover
back on my typewriter after this column, having done the same
three years ago, but after four months deciding I couldnt
relax in that proverbial rocker just yet and going back to interviewing
people all over the county.
I will reach 75 in another month and really want more time
to myself and for Kay, so I can start cleaning out the basement
as I promised her I would do five years ago.
Thanks for reading my columns off and on these past eight
years and special kudos to the Daily Chronicle editors for letting
me keep on keeping on. I will still be involved in the community
in many ways, tilting at windmills, and preserving history wherever
I can. I may even learn how to blog and do a weekly piece on
my website at www.dekalbcountylife.com if I get inspired or passionate
about some cause. Writing is such good therapy!