Bill was born on January 18, 1952, to parents Dr. Bob Denton and Betty Denton. Dr. Denton was the country doctor to the communities nestled between the Sierra and White mountain ranges, and his wild and close relationships with his patients colored the early lives of Bill and his two sisters, Margie and Susan. Betty was a laboratory technician as well as the first female mayor of their hometown of Bishop, California, and her strong backbone and fierce spirit supported all of the family adventures as well as kept their notorious swimming pool safe for the whole neighborhood.
Bill’s roaming spirit lead him to UC Davis (with spells at CSU Bakersfield and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo along the way), where he earned a degree in agriculture, and to his partner, Pam McAdoo, who was working as a graphic designer for the Inyo National Forest when they met.
Never one to color within the lines, Bill segued this to a move to Paris, where he attended La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine and became a classically-trained chef, eventually running the kitchen Château de Lesvault in the countryside of Burgundy. The birth of Pam and Bill’s son Rémy in 1986 prompted a move back home to be closer to family, and Bill found work the chef of a small consulting company located on the shores of Donner Lake in Truckee, California. Growth Management Center was a home for Bill to press his unrivaled French cuisine on guests and family alike, and the three flourished in the small town. Pam gave birth to a daughter, Cassia, in the summer of 1988, and Bill eventually transitioned into working at the café in the local hospital, forever chafing against the policy to not mix different flavors of jello.
After his children left for college, Bill hung up his toque and took to a life on the road, driving semi-trailers across the country. The open highways appealed to his sense of peace and adventure, and he bemused friends and family with stories about late-night adventures in the middle of nowhere.
Bill put the brakes on life on the road to take care of his parents as they aged, and he was chef, butler, polemicist, and overall custodian to them. He was reflecting on his next career move when he passed away unexpectedly.
He was loved by all who knew him as an incredibly rare spirit and a gentle soul. His unparalleled joy for living and exploring shaped the perceptions of everyone he touched, and he somehow managed to be at once impossible to deal with and impossible to live without. He was never one for small talk, and the simple question, “How are you?” was always a serious one, to be explored through endless permutations. Bill had a relationship with the universe unlike any other, and those he leaves behind will forever miss his thoughtful packages, quirky letters, and boundless memory of poetry.
He is survived by his sisters Margie and Susan; his partner Pam; their children Rémy and Cassia; and his grand-daughter Zoë.
A tentative memorial is planned for June 6th in Bishop, California. Bill always preferred his flowers to be handpicked wildflowers, but if wandering through the countryside doesn’t appeal to you, please donate in his memory to the Poetry Society of America: https://poetrysociety.org/support/donate
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