MRO Magazine

OBITUARY: Bearing expert Bill Botterill

Bill Botterill, one of the best known figures in the bearing industry in Canada, has died at the age of 66, after a short illness."Bill was a mentor, teacher and friend to many people in the industry,...


June 1, 2001
By MRO Magazine

Bill Botterill, one of the best known figures in the bearing industry in Canada, has died at the age of 66, after a short illness.

“Bill was a mentor, teacher and friend to many people in the industry,” said John Grainger, owner and president of Cooper-Grainger Canada, Mississauga, Ont., who met Bill in 1971 when he first came to Canada. “He was a big man who made a big impact wherever he travelled.”

Bill started his career in the bearing industry in the U.K. in 1959 when he joined Ransome & Marles. He was appointed Export Sales Manager in 1969, a job that took him all over the world, including to Communist China. In fact, he was the first Western businessmen to be allowed into that country since the Communist takeover. When the British government merged R&M with Hoffman and Pollard to become RHP, Bill was transferred back to Yorkshire with responsibility for domestic and overseas sales.

In 1971, he and his family emigrated to Canada as Bill had accepted a position as general manager of RHP Canada, based in Montreal. The following year he was transferred to Ontario. He left the company four years later to start his own bearing distribution company, Main Gate Bearings. Herb Hough of MBS Bearings, Montreal, bought this company in 1976 and Bill became general manager of MBS, moving to Montreal.

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At the age of 46, Bill decided that he would take early retirement to build a house in Parry Sound. In fact, he built two houses, the second being a cottage on an island off Parry Sound in Georgian Bay, where he and wife Brenda lived happily for many years. This was the first of his three “retirements.”

In 1980, he joined SKF as a salesperson responsible for northern Ontario. Always drawn to the rugged lifestyle, this was the time of his career he enjoyed most, he said. But you can’t keep a good man down on the farm for long, and they wanted him at head office in Scarborough. He quickly became manager of the Aftermarket Division (AM), then vice-president of OEM and finally vice-president of AM.

He retired for the second time in 1991 but that didn’t last long. Always highly entrepreneurial and a very creative thinker, Bill devised a bearing training program for distributors. For five years, he and Brenda (with their two dogs and two cats) criss-crossed the country in a large motor home, while Bill brought his training to SKF distributors. He also continued to conduct end user Comtech training courses in Scarborough and at other locations across the country.

He retired again in December 1999 when he and Brenda moved to Cape George, Antigonish, N.S. There he renovated the old farm house they bought, indulged in his love of boating and the great outdoors, and renewed his enthusiasm for gardening.

Bill is survived by his wife, two daughters, and four grandchildren.