From South Whidbey Record:
William “Bill” Stebbins: December 10, 1936 – July 19, 2021
Bill’s life began in New York City where he lived with his parents and brother in a small Greenwich Village apartment, but his fondest New York memories were the summers spent at their country place on Lake Kitchawan. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School, and then earned an engineering degree at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, just across the Hudson River. In 1956, at age nineteen with degree in hand, Bill hit the road in a 1930s vintage Franklin that he had recently repaired, driving it across the United States to his first engineering job at Boeing. He stayed with Boeing for his entire career, retiring in 1992.
Bill participated in many projects at Boeing, including the de- sign of the bearing carri- ers for the AWACS planes, the plane with the rotating dome. His last decade at Boeing was spent on the de- sign and maintenance of the thrust reverser for the 747. In the mid-seventies Bill bought acreage on Whidbey Island that had been recently logged. He designed his home and built most of it. It was a simple functional design. He also created his own unique water and electrical systems, and maintained these systems for over 35 years, earning the admiration of many for his ingenuity and tenacity. At a young age he demonstrated a fascination with engines. (He actually kept some tucked under his bed in the Greenwich Village apartment.) Once he selected a brand of motorcycle or car he stayed with it for life. Many satisfying hours were spent fixing, improving and using the cars and motorcycles in his collection. He happily drove his Lancia cars to the Lancia Club reunions on the east and west coast; he also attended Lancia events in Italy and Australia. Through all the trips he enjoyed the scenery and talking about cars, but for him the best part was…driving. Bill’s love for motorcycles was slightly stronger than for cars. Many may remember him as he commuted to Boeing on a motorcycle in all kinds of weather.
After retirement, he participated in a weeklong thou- sand-mile ride created by the Velocette Club of North America a few times. Even after dementia set in, the desire to ride a motorcycle was always present. For the most part, Bill was a man of few words. Many have described him as an engineer’s engineer. His thought process started with the basic laws of physics. His solutions to problems, such as a part no lon- ger available, were usually unique, efficient and effective. He was very generous in sharing parts with club members and friends in the community. He served on the Clinton Sub Area Planning Committee, as well as helped the Friends of Clinton Library with their book sales. Members of the community will remember Bill for his quiet nature, his politeness and his clever one-liners. Bill will be very much missed by his wife, Arlene, and the 41 years they shared together. He is survived by his two sons from a previous marriage: John Stebbins (Laura) of Shoreline and Robin Stebbins (Jodi) of Snohomish, also leaving behind five grandchildren.