William ‘Bill’ Velys, 69 – RiverheadLOCAL
William “Bill” Velys, 69, a longtime resident of Riverhead, passed away peacefully on Thursday April 7, 2022 after a brief illness. Born in 1952 to Michael and Thelma Velys, Bill had an idyllic childhood that included horseback riding, wrestling, scouting and lots of boating and water skiing.
Bill loved boating from a young age. His grandfather gave him his first self-assembled boat when he was 4 years old. From then on, he was never far from water. Later, Bill would become a boat captain and take care of fishing and partying on Block Island. Bill was fired, at different times in his life, as a captain, pilot and real estate agent. Bill has spent his entire life in Peconic Bay and knew every sandbar, tide table and fish species. He was the kind of angler who could make his own lure, catch his own bait, come home with a bounty, and then cook a feast. Between hunting, fishing and gardening, Bill made a good living from the land and the sea. Even when he could no longer go out on the boat, friends called him to find out the best fishing spots, and Bill sold the GPS coordinates to know where the fish were and when they were due to leave, and don’t be late, as Bill would say, because “the weather and the tide wait for no one”.
Bill has lived his life by the motto “Work Hard, Play Harder”. As a child, he ran after school at R&M, the family business (now Revco), because he was paid by the hour and he knew he could earn more if he got to work faster. Bill would incorporate this hustle into his own career. In the 80s and 90s, Bill transformed hundreds of East Long Island businesses by installing energy-efficient light bulbs and reflectors in stores and medical centers. Although he worked for himself, he was for many years the best salesman in the country for certain lighting manufacturers, and although he was not an employee, he made the President’s Club several times and enjoyed a great vacation, especially in Hawaii for him and his wife as a result. Later, he pursued a career in sales. He always maintained his work-life balance, working hard enough to support his family and his lifestyle, but making sure he still had most of the summer for boat trips and weekends in winter for skiing and hunting, in season. Outside of boating, skiing, and hunting, Bill enjoyed baseball (go Yankees), nature shows, gardening, the news, his grandchildren, and engaging friends in heated political debates. Bill was patriotic and loved his country and his hometown. Although he probably wouldn’t have used that word to describe himself, he was also an environmentalist and good steward of his local environment; he never littered, always took care to conserve water and electricity, practiced composting, recycled, invested in solar energy and ensured that his fishing bounties were never wasted.
Bill came to know and trust Jesus in the latter part of his life, a blessing his family is so grateful for. He is survived by the love of his life, Suzanne, his wife of 45 years, his daughters Kristina (Jim) Adams of Virginia and Lia (Rich) Kulesa, his sisters Anna (Jerry) Saba of California and Stacey (Walter) Moran from Florida. , and his brother Michael (Cathy), his mother Thelma of Florida, 5 grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and many, many friends. A memorial visitation will be held at the McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead on Tuesday, April 12 from 4 to 8 p.m. A memorial funeral service will be held at the McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home on Wednesday, April 13 at 11 a.m.