I woke up this morning to the news that Bill Crider passed away yesterday. He was a true gentlemen in the writing community. Although most of his work was in the mystery and crime genres with a few forays into westerns, he wrote some short fiction that contained fantastic elements, such as his Sidewise Award winning story “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”. James Reasoner told me after the story won the award that Bill had written it at the last minute as a replacement for someone who had to drop out of the project. I considered it an honor to be included in that anthology with him.
One story of Bill’s I read years ago in an anthology (the name of both the story and the anthology escape me) concerned a town in the old west that was having troubles with a werewolf. And the only person in the area with silver bullets was a masked man and his faithful Indian companion…
Bill had been fighting cancer since about July of 2016. Bill had lost his wife Judy to cancer a few years prior to that. They have been reunited.
It was his announcement of the diagnosis that made me decide to attend Armadillocon that year. I hadn’t seen many of my friends since moving to the Llano Flatto part of the state. It was the first time in over half a decade I had seen some of those folks, and it made me realize how much I missed them.
I first became aware of Bill Crider about 19 years ago. I was a visiting professor at Angelo State University. There was a writing symposium in which Bill was the keynote speaker. I snuck away from the Physics Department for a few hours to hear him speak.
We didn’t meet that day, but when I moved up to the northeast part of Texas later that year, I began attending science fiction conventions in the Dallas area again. This was when ConDFW was starting up, and Bill and Judy were regulars. I met them through mutual friends. For the rest of the decade our paths would cross several times a year at various conventions such as Armadillocon, AggieCon, and once at Bouchercon when it was in Austin.
Bill was a great raconteur. One of the highlights of any convention he was at would be to sit and listen to him tell stories, especially if Joe Lansdale was part of the group. Joe often was, and their interactions were a joy to behold.
Scott Cupp sent me the picture on the right, which he got from Bill. It’s from a convention in 2001, although I’m not sure which one. From left to right, the gentlemen are Scott Cupp, James Reasoner, Bill Crider, and Joe Lansdale. Whatever they talked about would have been interesting and lively.
Bill always had a smile. He was always happy to sign something. I never heard him utter a cross word or saw him be rude to a fan. He was kind and encouraging to new writers and was one of the most open and approachable professionals I’ve ever met. He was an avid paperback collector with an encyclopedic knowledge of the various imprints such as Gold Medal that have become highly sought after. Bill was not only an expert on old paperbacks and their authors, but popular culture as well.
After I took my current position, the nearest convention was four hours away and in another state (which I still haven’t managed to attend). I saw less of Bill. Two years ago, I made a conscious effort to attend at least one convention in Texas where many of my friends would be. I’m glad I did. I saw Bill last year at Armadillocon. The final time I saw him was last November at World Fantasy, where I took the picture at the top of the page. He was in good spirits, and was a joy to be around.
The world is poorer now that Bill has passed on, but I’m a richer man from having known him. Rest in peace, my friend.