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Bill was born in Michigan in 1959.  The era when anything was possible.

His dad was originally from Colorado – having served in the Navy and traveled the country during the early 30’s, he settled in Detroit.   The booming “Motor City” provided opportunity.   Working any number of positions in an out of the auto industry, he eventually settled into a long career with the former R.E.A. Express Agency – which worked out to the classic Michigan Central Depot building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Vernor Highway in Detroit.

It was here that Bill’s dad met his mother – who, after spending time during WWII as a “Rosy the Riveter” at Firestone Tire’s plant in Riverview, began a career in both administrative and operations with R.E.A. – a place she worked 15 years before choosing to remain home full-time with 3 children.

The family bought a home in Riverview – sandwiched in the downriver Detroit area between Wyandotte, Trenton, and Southgate.   Bill had his fair share of ups-and-downs before graduating from Riverview Community High School – where great educators like Melvin Dickson, Mary Zellner, and Charles Wiesenauer and others in this successful public school provided him a direction never lost on him.  During this time, he played sports – both organized and ad-hoc with friends.   Earning letters in both cross country and basketball, the “gang” included all-state performers in baseball, tennis, and football.   These “superstars” of his early life challenged him to always do better – and do the most you can with your natural talents.   Bill also excelled academically – earning scholarships from the Michigan Competitive Math Program and the North Central Principal’s Association.

While attending first the University of Michigan and then Wayne State University, he split time with his passions of business and volunteer activities.    He always had an interest in business, being inspired by his maternal grandfather, William D. Muddiman, who created and grew the Downriver Insurance Agency in Trenton.   His grandfather passed the business down to his son (also William) – who served 26 years on the Trenton City Council.

Bill lost his dad in 1978.   This had a huge influence on his “right now” attitude about life.   This is part of what pushed him in both college and sinking into community activities.

In his late teens, while still in college, Bill began his community involvement in the Riverview Jaycees – eventually serving as its youngest President at the age of 22.   Many projects and the leadership training offered by the Jaycees create the bulwark of Bill’s drive for business success – all-the-while staying connected to community needs.  He still considers his work with Project Concern and the resulting friendship he developed with former U.S. Jaycee President and taxpayer advocate Dick Headlee one of the most enriching of his life.

During the early 80’s, Bill served on Riverview’s Community Development Commission – helping provide advice to City Council on the use of large federal block grant programs.

Like many inspired individuals, Bill was induced to leave Wayne State for the business world.   At 21, he took a management position with Consolidated Foods Corp. (now Sara Lee).   It was here that he began to see his path to entrepreneur developing.    While working at Con-Foods, Bill met his wife and soon afterward, his first of three sons was born.   The challenges of work and family – like many people, took a toll.   During the downturn of 1982, he sought opportunity in his dad’s native Colorado.   While developing his career in the restaurant business, he started Sand Creek Lawn Care on the side to support his growing family.

Even during this challenging period, Bill stayed on course with the values and commitments he developed from Michigan.   His first project in the Jaycees was helping the American Red Cross with the local blood program in Riverview.   Bill worked his relationships with churches, city government, and the local schools to divide up the quarterly bloodmobile effort.    Not just an organizer – Bill began a life-long commitment to the blood program – now exceeding 130 donations.

Bill eventually made a big commitment to restaurant work.    And was given the opportunity at 26 to be a General Manager for VICORP Restaurants, Inc., in the exploding Florida market.   This family-style restaurant company provided what he calls a “2nd college education” in business.    Working in this hands-on business often populated with short-term career staff, young folks in transition, and a fair amount of recent immigrants, NOTHING could have provided a better sense of how to work with a diverse and complicated workforce.

Meanwhile, family life got more complicated.   Like many people, marriage and family get to be a complicated story.  By 1986, this was very much a yours-mine-and ours family.    Like a lot of dads, Bill learned the complexities of managing two families.    One with his first wife, children from a prior marriage, and their kids; and a second with his second wife and children.    Like anything else, these have been deep and difficult challenges.   But something through which Bill and other friends like him have persevered.

As a recipient of VICORP’s strong management training and development courses – together with Bill grasping the opportunity, helped him win recognition with several nationwide awards within the Company.    Challenged by his mentor, Charles (Buck) Frederickson — a Michigan native – Bill became a standout manager for the company.

As the 80’s came to a close, Bill moved back to Michigan ostensibly to operate a former franchise Village Inn.   Well, things didn’t work out as planned.   Another lesson in corporate maneuvering.

So, Bill found a few investors and started his own restaurant, The Apple Blossom Family Restaurant, in Grand Rapids.    His wife, kids, sister, mom – well, everyone he knew had a hand in helping get that off the ground.   He spent the most of the 90’s being a great local businessman.     As a local business owner, he helped organize and served as the first Vice-Chairman of the South Grand Neighborhood Business Alliance.    This group worked to help maintain the integrity of the 28th Street / Division area — and worked closely with the Garfield Park and others.   Being part of both Grand Rapids and Wyoming, this group never settled on an identity in a rapidly changing real estate market.    After 20 years in the business, Bill decided to accept an offer on the table to sell the restaurant and explore other opportunities.

1998 began a decade-long run with the largest provider of real estate information in the country – First American Corporation.    Learning new aspects of real estate transactions, Bill worked in several capacities – becoming a proficient title examiner, managing a processing group for several states, and eventually becoming a key support administrator for a joint-venture business group that operated in 4 states.

While the call of small business pulled Bill back in 2008 – he maintains a strong business relationship with First American to this day – which operates as underwriter for Abacus Title Agency.   He and his partners continue to grow and offer new opportunities to others in the real estate information and insurance marketplace.

Over these last couple decades, Bill’s family has grown as his children have married and started families of their own.    Being a husband, father, and grandfather are things everyone recognizes as irreplaceable to him.

Bill surprises many by the energy and time committed to outside interests and community involvement.

As an adult, his interest in sports continued to grow.

After graduation, he worked part-time and also volunteered; most notably with the Riverview Recreation Department and the Downriver Baptist Athletic Association.    As the kids grew, he spent several years as a coach with Michigan AYSO (soccer) – even during the restaurant years.   Many of the kid’s friends refer to “Coach Bill” to this day when they see him.

In the Jaycee years, he was involved in the creation of Riverview “Run for Burns” supporting the Ann Arbor Burn Center.    Through Jaycees, he helped provide basketball activities for the local ARC Network, managed Haunted Houses, organized a dance marathon to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and many, many other activities.  Those who know him would say the Jaycees had a profound impact on his life and viewpoints.

He has climbed several mountains on the Continental Divide – having had the opportunity when both living in Colorado for a short time and traveled extensively with his family.    Together, they’ve been to 49 states, 9 Canadian provinces and 2 territories, as well as 4 foreign nations.

Bill and his family have a bunch of hobbies.  Beyond an extraordinary travel history, he and Donna enjoy exploring Americana…. having attended all kinds of unique American activities;  Groundhog Day in Pennsylvania, taking a leap on a bungee into the Royal Gorge, Colorado, doing hot springs at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies; whale watching off the Grand Banks; doing the full length of the Blue Ridge Parkway; camping in Yellowstone Park and the Grand Tetons, Wyoming; from Vegas to all the major sport Halls of Fame;  from Beale Street to the Confederations Bridge to Prince Edward Island — and, mostly, having traveled and enjoyed attractions in all 83 counties of the Great State of Michigan.   Donna and Bill once did a full circumnavigation of the Great Lakes.

Closer to home, Bill and his family are members of the National Geographic Society, the Arbor Day Foundation – having planted over 150 trees in the past 10 years.

Not everything has been roses and joy.   Bill and his family lost their oldest grandchild to a tragedy in 2005.   While creating an irreplaceable whole in his heart, he and wife Donna have committed themselves to ongoing involvement with the March of Dimes in honor of Elizabeth – to date has raised more than $10k on behalf of this most worthy charity.   In their spare time, they work on their personal genealogy site:  Welcome2theFamily.org .  Together, they have identified over 3000 relatives stretching back centuries.

For more than 40 years, Bill has been an activist for political involvement – working on a wide range of projects.    From voter registration drives to ballot initiatives; protests to public presentations; many would find his involvements within the Libertarian Party surprising – especially if they don’t know many Libertarians.    For many years, the Libertarian Party of West Michigan had a section of road cleanup in downtown Grand Rapids – making a regular commitment to environmental action.

Libertarians across the state have been involved in a wide range of activities.   From gun safety programs, providing volunteers to public television, roadway, and beach cleanup efforts, civic outreach – particularly doing Constitution Day training and awareness.

In 2003, Bill was elected as Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Michigan.   It was his great honor to be one of the first state party chairman of any party to oppose the Patriot Act.   At the time, he was a minority voice – who a wide range of both conservative and liberal thinkers have come to embrace.   To this day, he is a loud advocate for due process and the protections of the 4th Amendment.

Over the years, Bill was out front on many civil liberties issues – endorsing marriage equality, presumptive joint-custody laws, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, and helping pass Medical Marijuana.

In 2016, he was given a broad mandate as Chairman of the State Party for the 2nd time.    Working throughout the Spring and Summer with many others, he helped coordinate with the Johnson campaign to enhance their activities in Michigan – which helped Gary secure the endorsements of both the Detroit News and the Chicago Tribune.

These activities set the stage for the Libertarian Party to become a major party for the 2018 cycle.

As the future unfolds, you can expect that Bill will be out front – as a family man, as a leader in business, a contributor to community involvement, and an activist for better Michigan.   As an advocate for liberty, Bill has spoken at over 20 Michigan colleges and universities – made presentations at senior facilities and high schools – and had the good fortune to offer timely ideas to the marketplace on radio and television hundreds of times.   #MichiganLibertyRising

 

© Paid for by the Bill Gelineau for Governor Committee, P.O. Box 120064, Grand Rapids, MI  49548 – James A. Dondero, Treasurer