Eight Bells: Bill Alcott

Published on February 9th, 2020

Bill Alcott

William Demelt Alcott III (“Bill”) of St Clair Shores, Michigan sailed into the horizon on February 3, 2020 at the age of 83. He had been winning a battle against cancer for 14 years when it finally overtook him, but he enjoyed life to its fullest, even during those battle years, living his life, not his disease.

During that time, he sold his company, immersed himself further in his favorite pursuit, sailboat racing, created an elaborate model train layout, married his long time (long longtime) sweetheart, built a home on Lake St Clair, and adopted his beloved dog Murphy.

Bill traveled, won a half dozen Mackinac races overall and had most recently shifted his focus to a classic mahogany HackerCraft, as a tender to his cherished sailboat, Equation. There was no slowing down for retirement or disease.

Before that he founded and led an entrepreneurial health care company, NGS American, where his charismatic persuasion mesmerized a loyal staff (albeit while occasionally terrorizing his management staff). He built the company’s software from the ground up, incorporating details that far surpassed others in the industry, earning US Patents on those applications in 1990 and 1991.

Bill was always a NOW guy – do it NOW and a BIG guy – do it up BIG – and a DO IT RIGHT guy – Now, Big and Perfect. It was an incredible company, the staff was his family, and he cried the day he sold it. He is survived by every employee who ever had the good fortune to work for this man.

Perhaps the best inspiration for his successful business was his love of sailing. Bill was the proud owner of the “Equation” brand – seven sequentially larger racing sailboats and a longtime member of Bayview Yacht Club. Bill was also a member of the Storm Trysail Club, Society of Mackinac Island Old Goats (BYC), and the Island Goats Sailing Society (CYC) which put him in the illustrious group of “Double Goats” having completed in 25 races each.

Bill raced the Great Lakes, East Coast, Key West, and he especially loved the Caribbean with his devoted crew members and these were long standing, close personal relationships for him. His crew were family members. His boat rules were simple – no shouting, always show up with a hangover, and if you were late for boat call you had to buy drinks for the entire crew.

His racing program and success on the course are well known and include 47 Port Huron to Mackinac races and 35 Chicago to Mackinac races. He is survived by every sailor who ever had the good fortune to participate on Equation.

He was just bigger than life! He loved the Detroit Red Wings and was proud to have had hall of famer Steve Yzerman come to the office and autograph the wall. He just couldn’t figure out how to take the wall when he retired. He loved reading and always had his Kindle in his pocket. He was a skilled banjo and ukulele player and could harmonize to fit in with any barbershop quartet. He taught all his kids to play Frisbee and when they grew up, he taught the dog.

His personal loyalty, his passion for integrity, his bewitching intensity had the power to make everyone feel like family. The foundation of that ability though was his real family. He is lovingly and forever remembered by his wife and partner of 32 years, Kim, his three children Michelle Alcott Wilson (Tad; mother Joan McKenzie), Robert Alcott (Elizabeth; mother Darlene Alcott “Dar”), Nancy Alcott (Gunther; mother Darlene Alcott “Dar”) and stepdaughter Courtney Durbin (Justin; mother Kim).

He lives on in the hearts of his grandchildren, McKenzie Wilson (Michelle and Tad), Abby and Ryan Alcott (Robert and Elizabeth), Amstel and Zealand Lie (Nancy and Gunther); and step grandchildren Sierra and Dylan Durbin (Courtney and Justin). He is survived and dearly missed by his sisters, Lynn Kogel (Ross) and Deborah Trafton, and predeceased by his father William Alcott, mother Lois Alcott, and brother Paul Alcott.

Fair winds and safe harbor, Bill. You will be so very missed by all of us, Captain.

Visitation with the family will be held on February 12, 2020 from 3 pm to 8 pm at Verheyden Funeral Home 16300 Mack Ave, Grosse Pointe, MI 48230. A “Celebration of Life” will take place at Bayview Yacht Club in late spring.

In lieu of flowers, the family designates the following organizations for memorial contributions:

ZERO – the End of Prostate Cancer
515 King Street, Suite 420
Alexandria, VA 22314
Zerocancer.org

Ocean Conservatory
1300 19th Street NW- 8th Floor
Washington DC 20036
oceanconservancy.org

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