W.E. “Bill” Crozier
Bill Crozier was born in 1945, the dawn of the Baby Boomer era. His father Earl had been wounded and returned from war in 1944 after being away for almost five years (…Our Daddies won the war). His mother Dorothy recalls being overjoyed with a new baby, but also lamented being in the hospital while the rest of the family were celebrating Canada Day on Toronto Island. Life as a seven year old included adventures with his First Nations foster brother, Clayton, as “The Lone Ranger” and Bill as “Tonto”. In the era of Elvis and the dawn of rock’n roll, Bill was influenced musically in his pre-teens by his sister’s then boyfriend Hal Evanson, whose band The Mel-O-Denes was the opening act for Bill Haley (Rock’n Roll Medium).
Although excelling in art and architectural drafting, Bill left high school for adventure, heading to the United States at age 17, at a time when Americans were coming to Canada to avoid the draft. After securing his green card, he joined the U.S. Air Force, where he obtained his Grade 12 and a degree in photography from the University of California. Bill gained flight status at 19 and was one of the first reconnaissance photographers stationed in Asia during the Vietnam conflict, the most dangerous job in the Air Force at that time. Drones currently do the job he did at that time. In the 60’s, small single engine prop planes were manned by only a pilot and the photographer for reconnaissance missions. Getting ready for his first mission Bill started to put on his parachute before getting into the plane and was asked what he was doing. “You sit on that for protection from ground fire.” His job took him to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. As a Canadian watching the Vietnam conflict through the lens of a camera he saw sights and gained insights few witness which would shape his life forever.
Bill left the Air Force in 1967 and returned to Canada, where he applied his military training and discipline to the business world. Bill is a private person, an entrepreneur and an artist. He is passionate, creative, courageous, expects the best from himself and others, has a strong sense of justice ( Bangkok 2010), takes risks, researches his projects thoroughly, will be the first to jump in and help someone but does not tolerate fools. He lives life to the fullest. His first venture, a successful roofing company, was followed by a chain of retail shops, and then the Sun Room Restaurant, one of the first truly “East meets West” dining experiences. Located in Stratford, Ontario, The Sun Room was included in Where to Eat in Canada, and received a Stratford Heritage Award (for the building), and the Blooming Business Award (for the gardens). The restaurant was a favourite with locals, the theatre crowd and actors alike.
Bill, whose greatest joy is his daughter, family and two granddaughters, moved to the East Coast of Canada with his partner Monica and canine pals in the early 90’s for a simpler life, with more time to pursue his interest in art, writing and travel. He started writing as a young teenager, was a gifted artist from an early age but never had time to pursue his love of oil painting until he retired and moved to Nova Scotia. His oil paintings are alive and vibrant - sunsets painted at their peak of brilliance, beautiful expressive Asian jungles and the many moods of the ocean. Bill is an artist in the truest sense, reflected in his skills as a photographer, painter, writer, landscape sculptor, chef, and most recently in his foray into “Old Man Rap” as he calls his music.
A lover of all things Asian, Bill travelled extensively throughout Thailand and his second home is now at the “end of the road” in Cambodia, where people from all walks of life gather on his front porch to preview tunes and indulge in “a sip of gin”. Guests include vets, world travellers of all ages, neighbours and Khmer friends. Colonel Thara Jiraphol, a Thai friend and associate, often claimed Bill “knows the Thai people as well as the Thais”.
As you might expect, Bill’s retirement is anything but sedate. Now 69, Bill is hard at work on his second bucket list (after completing the first one twice), with the release of his new album, Bangkok Skyline, by Bill and the Billie Boden Band. The album, three years in the making, expresses Bill’s simple life truths, and gives us just a glimpse of his life and his imagination, told through the characters of Bill and the Billie Boden Band. As a man who has truly lived on the far side, he still has many stories to tell. Stay tuned…