I went to James William "Bill" Bartlett Jr.'s funeral today.
The service was as sweet and special as Bill was.
First Baptist Church pastor Jimmy Elder officiated.
Bart Scarborough, one of Bill's grandsons, was the other speaker. He's an ordained minister and he said as soon as he graduated, his grandfather asked him to speak.
And boy, did he. He was great.
We laughed and cried and remembered Bill as he was. I never realized he was a fighter pilot during World War II and was shot down over China.
I was thinking about when I first met him and I can't remember the year, but he came to the newspaper and I went to the lobby. He told me who he was and gave me a newspaper clipping about his son, Bo. Bill said Bo was an artist and perhaps I should do a story about him.
I don't think I did.
But he was persistent and came a few months later, this time with a newspaper clipping and a catalog from an exhibit.
I'm not sure if I did anything then, either.
Finally, Bo came to town and I got to meet him. And I think I did a little story or maybe it was a column mention. It was about a movie script he had written.
For years, Bill would come by to say hello and giving me exhibit catalogs and newspaper clippings.
By that time, Bo had become quite a sensation in the art world and I did write a story.
Back 10 years ago or so when the Columbus Museum held its 50th anniversary year festivities, it kicked off the year with a retrospective of of Bo's work. There was this huge party, complete with tents, sit-down dinner, a band and dancing and a performance of "Cirque Dreams."
It was amazing. And so was that exhibit. (Yes, I wrote a story then, too). Many of the monumental paintings came from his sister, Sandy Scarborough's house. Yes, Bart is Sandy's son. Anyway, she said she had holes where those paintings hung. Bo sent others to fill the spaces.
Sandy's paintings have just been given to the Bo Bartlett Center at CSU.
I think the last visit Bill made downtown was when Bo married Betsy Eby a couple of years ago.
I asked about the ceremony and he said it was very nice except for those "disreputable boots" Bo wore. Of course, Bo painted those boots.
I've wondered why Bill hadn't come by these past few years. I didn't realize he had been ill. Now, I'm sorry I didn't call or email him.
That just goes to show me that I should just go ahead and check on my older friends. And some younger ones as well.
Bill Bartlett had lots of friends and a wonderful, beautiful family. I'll miss him and I offer my condolences to his family.