It would be hypocritical and nowhere near the truth to say Bill Denney and I were close friends. For most of the short time the Carthage native served as sports editor of The Carthage Press he and I were at odds.
At the beginning of his time at The Press, I was assigned to cover Carthage High School girls varsity sports to take some of the pressure off Bill, who had never worked on a newspaper before.
One night, I covered a basketball game that Bill happened to attend. As usual, when I covered a game, there was not only a game story afterward, but one of my Sports Talk features. When the Press came out the next day, Bill had written a story about the game and my articles were nowhere in sight. I wasn't happy, to say the least. I realize now there was no evil intent in Bill's decision. He genuinely thought he had written a better story than I had. We both had pretty high opinions of our writing skills.
Bill made a big impact in a short time. He ticked people off by stating what he truly believed. When attendance at Carthage High School boys basketball games was down, Bill wrote a column exhorting people to attend the games. Nothing unusual about that, but when it was pointed out to him that many more activities existed at that time than when Bill was a high school basketball star, including ninth grade basketball, girls basketball and junior high basketball, Bill laid it right on the line...It didn't matter. Carthage High School boys basketball was the main sport and it should be supported. He had a lot of people angry at him, but that never swayed him from giving his opinion. I should mention there were a number of people who were in total agreement with him.
Even though we didn't work together long, I can still picture Bill as if it were yesterday, wearing bulky, white turtleneck sweaters, towering over everyone else in the newsroom, his booming voice reverberating off the walls.
Fortunately, I ran into Bill one more time after his days at The Press ended in 1992. A few years later, I saw him when I was covering Carthage High School's Project Graduation at Missouri Southern.
Bill Denney never held a grudge. Any problems we had were in the past. It was as if he were seeing an old friend he had not seen in a long time. We must have talked for more than an hour. It was the last time I saw him.
Life was an adventure for Bill Denney. It led him in many directions, including a brief acting career, in which he appeared in about a half-dozen episodes of Dallas as one of J. R. Ewing's evil henchmen. He also appeared in numerous theatrical productions both in Texas, where Dallas was filmed, and in Missouri.
He served his country early in life and at the end of his life. Bill was a Vietnam veteran and at the time of his death Monday, he worked for Homeland Security, operating out of the Social Security office in Pittsburg, Kan.
Bill Denney packed a lot of living into those 60 years.