A knock 15 years ago turned into a wonderful friendship

About 15 years ago, a funny looking guy wearing black clothes knocked on the office door of the Tulsa Beacon. He came in and introduced himself.

We talked about the Tulsa Beacon and what kind of paper it was and he was very supportive.

He offered to help us with our office machines – most specifically our copier and our computer printers. We had not made the best deals when we purchased the equipment and he wanted us to save money so that the paper could thrive.

That was Bill Bickerstaff, one of my best friends in the world.

Shortly thereafter, after reading a couple of issues, Bill’s wife Cathy told him that we needed to do more proofreading.

She was right.

I talked to her and told her she should proof our paper each week before it goes to press. She agreed and insisted that she not get paid for her services.

The Bickerstaffs were a godsend.

This month, they have moved to Southlake, Texas (in the Dallas area), to live with Bill’s mother, who is 88 and has some health issues.

Bill has been a one-man company – All-Copy Supplies. He is an expert at repairing copies and printers.

For years, he has scoured the Internet for used machines for sale. Many companies and individuals will have a problem with a copier and they find out that it will cost a fortune to fix it. It’s not much more expensive to buy a new one. So, they sell the old broken machine for pennies on the dollar.

Bill bought those machines and fixed them. Then he rented them to clients along with a service contract.

He almost always saved people money.

Bill and Cathy are conservative Republicans. For as long as I have known him, he has supplied conservative political candidates with machines at no cost. I think this started back in 1980 when Don Nickles first ran for the U.S. Senate in Oklahoma.

I can’t tell you how many times Bill has stayed up almost all night to help a candidate or a business friend finish a copying project or repair a machine.

His unselfish work is so important. He was given a Defender of Liberty award this year because of his willingness to work so hard behind the scenes and do what is right.

Bill and Cathy are serious about their Christian faith. They are at church every time the doors are open. Cathy sings in the choir and Bill runs the sound board.

Bill and I have had many lengthy theological discussions. He is a deep thinker when it comes to faith and Christianity.

He has a quick wit and is prone to ask provocative questions to liven a discussion. A year ago, he said in Sunday School that he was going to vote for Hillary Clinton because “she was the best candidate.” He smiled as looks of horror and dismay flashed around the class. He did not vote for Mrs. Clinton.

We publish 51 weeks a year. We must to maintain our legal newspaper status. That means we get one week of vacation a year.

The Bickerstaffs are such good friends that for several years, they have watched our house and our dog while we took our annual vacation. Last winter, they house sat and dog sat while we drove to Florida and the Orange Bowl. And they have done the same for many long weekend trips for us.

How do you replace friends like this?

The answer is that you don’t.

Their unselfishness is on display again. They are leaving a successful business and their kids and grandkids in Tulsa to care for a parent in Texas. That is quite a sacrifice. Many Baby Boomers are facing similar situations, trying to care for elderly parents while earning a living and trying to help their kids.

The easy way out is to stick the parents in a home (I know that sometimes there is no other choice). It takes great sacrifice to offer the kind of care that is needed to keep elderly parents in their home.

Bill and Cathy Bickerstaff will return to Tulsa regularly because their kids and grandkids are here. It won’t be the same as it is now but we will still have a friendship.

The Bickerstaffs have worked hard for decades. Bill, who was in the Air Force during Vietnam (he was stationed in Arkansas), deserves some down time.

You might see a few more typos in the Tulsa Beacon because Cathy (who is extremely smart and detail oriented) is not proofreading. But that’s OK.

God directed us to that office space 15 years ago knowing that Bill Bickerstaff would come knocking on our door.

Our lives have been enriched by the friendship that followed.