William “Bill” Velys, 69, a lifelong Riverhead resident, passed away peacefully Thursday, April 7, 2022, following 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 had a love of boating from an early age. His grandfather got him his first self-assembled boat when he was 4 years old. From that time on, he was never far from the water. Later, Bill would become a boating captain and take out fishing and party charters to Block Island. Bill was licensed, at different times in his life, as a sea captain, pilot and realtor. Bill spent his entire life on the Peconic Bay and knew every sandbar, tide table and species of fish. He was the kind of fisherman 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 lived well off the land and sea. Even when he could no longer go out on the boat, friends would call him to find out the best fishing spots, and Bill would rattle off the GPS coordinates for where the fish were and when they had to go, and don’t be late, because, as Bill would say, “time and tide wait for no one.”
Bill lived his life by the motto, “Work Hard, Play Harder.” As a child, after school he would run to R&M, the family business (now Revco), because he was paid hourly and he knew he could earn more if he arrived at work faster. Bill would take that hustle into his own career. In the 1980s and ’90s, Bill transformed hundreds of Eastern Long Island businesses by installing energy efficient light bulbs and reflectors in stores and medical centers. Though he worked for himself, there were many years that he was the top salesperson in the nation for some lighting manufacturers, and even though he wasn’t an employee, he made President’s Club several times and enjoyed some nice vacations, including to 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 lifestyle, but making sure he always had the bulk of the summer off for boating trips, and weekends in the winter for skiing, and hunting, when in season. Outside of boating, skiing and hunting, Bill enjoyed baseball (go Yankees), nature shows, gardening, news, his grandkids and engaging friends in spirited political debate. Bill was patriotic and loved his country and his hometown. Though he probably wouldn’t have used this word to describe himself, he was also a conservationist and good steward of his local environment; he never littered, always took care to conserve water and electricity, was into composting, recycled, invested in solar energy, and made sure his fishing bounties never went to waste.
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, sisters Anna (Jerry) Saba of California and Stacey (Walter) Moran of Florida, and brother Michael (Cathy), his mother, Thelma, of Florida, 5 grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and many, many friends.
A memorial visitation will be held at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead Tuesday, April 12, from 4 to 8 p.m. A memorial funeral service will be held at McLaughlin Heppner Wednesday, April 13, at 11 a.m.
This is a paid notice.