Retired Vietnam veteran MSgt. William Marian “Bill” Bishop, age 86 died on June 27, 2021, at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage with heart and kidney complications leading from a fractured bone.
From the hills and mountains of Asco, West Virginia, “Marian,” as his family called him, was born to a coal-miner family on August 24, 1934. He is the 10th child in the family of Jesse and Lula Bishop and has 15 siblings.
Growing up and living through the adversities and hardships of World War II, he always set goals for himself believing that things can be achieved through determination and hard work. And as his journey unfolded, Marian discovered his passion through trial and error. Numerous lives were lost inside the coal mines during those days and if they ever survived, most of them perished from Black Lung Disease. Because of this, with only a driver’s license, a Social Security card, and 10 cents in his pocket, Marian was resolute in his decision and joined the U.S. Marine Corps after high school. He graduated from boot camp in May 1953. With several transfer orders on short- and long-term military assignments, “Bill,” now called, seldom visited his Asco Holler home. With his great love for his country, he was on 2 Vietnam tours during the conflict. Later he found out that 4 of his brothers were also serving in Vietnam at the same time.
Coming back from Vietnam to the U.S. was very tough for Bill but he redeemed himself by working with love and patriotism serving his country. He never spoke of his encounters about the atrocities of war. Instead, he only mentioned his experiences with candid afterthoughts. He liberated himself of those horrific experiences by working even harder and was then assigned to an independent duty at the U.S. Marine Barracks in Kodiak Island, Alaska. It was in this place that he decided to retire after 20 years of military service on September 17, 1972, as Master Sergeant.
Bill has completed courses at Cornell University and The University of Hawaii from which he graduated to become a Certified Club Manager from the Club Manager’s Association of America. Following his military service, Bill’s mission did not end after retirement, he was the Port Director of Kodiak Island for the U.S. Customs and Immigration and later served as Chairman of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for the State of Alaska.
Between several occupations, Bill dedicated his life to helping the veterans through the establishment of the American Legion Post 17 in 1972. Later, he was elected as the State of Alaska Department Commander in 1983; elected as Executive Committeeman of the American Legion (Alaska) in 1984, and appointed as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission of the American Legion National Headquarters in 1994. Working in that capacity, Bill had maintained close liaison and rapport with the Alaska congressional delegates together with their respective staff.
In Bill’s interactions with most of the national veterans’ organizations, he became equipped with more than enough ways in assisting the veterans locally and those returning from overseas. As a result of his numerous involvements with so many pursuits advocating for veterans’ welfare, support, and assistance, Bill was appointed to the Regional Veterans Service (VSO) Liaison for the Department of Veterans Affairs by Presidential Appointment under the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on July 9, 2001, during the presidency of President George W. Bush. He served from 2001 to 2004.
In 2005, Bill managed the Mecca Corporation and Mecca Jewelry, Inc., of Kodiak, Alaska where he was the President and Owner until 2011 when he turned over the businesses to his children. Finally, in 2018, Bill wrote a book titled, “A Ridgerunner’s Journey to the Last Frontier,” which chronicled his memoirs as he journeyed from his humble beginnings in West Virginia to his retirement in Alaska. The book was his legacy and was dedicated to the Bishop family and the future generations to come.
Originating from a noticeably big BISHOP family, Bill is survived by his brothers, Jesse and Glen Bishop, his sister, Ann Diese, and their families including nephews and nieces from his siblings who had gone before him; AND his children, grandchildren, and special brothers and sisters whom he considered his non-blood family because of an extraordinary affiliation.