Friends, colleagues remember Bill Bonds at visitation

Susan Whitall
The Detroit News

Friends and family members remembered longtime WXYZ-TV anchor Bill Bonds with loving tributes and good-natured jokes at a "sharing of memories" service Thursday at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home in Clawson.

Bonds died Dec. 13 at St. Joseph Mercy in Pontiac, of a heart attack, at 82.

His WXYZ-TV colleagues came out in force, including investigative reporters Heather Catallo and Ross Jones; sports anchor Tom Leyden; general manager Ed Hernandez; former general manager Jeanne Findlater; former reporters Cheryl Chodun, Mary Conway and the "News Hawk," Jerry Stanecki; former news director Bob Giles; former anchor Rich Fisher and former morning anchor Erik Smith.

Also there to listen and pay their respects: Channel 4 anchor Guy Gordon and Fox 2's Roop Raj, a former WXYZ intern; and former Channel 4/NBC reporter Chris Hansen, who was also a WXYZ intern early in his career.

Smith drew laughs when he described Bonds' reaction after the station's then-news director Bill Fyfe, a stickler for neatness, once set Bonds' messy desk on fire in disgust.

"Bill didn't move a muscle until the fire got close to his very expensive shoes," Smith said. "Then he walked out of the newsroom and went down to grab a cup of coffee, never acknowledging that all of his belongings had been burned."

Fisher told a story about a charity softball game in which Bonds was pitching while wearing a suit -- he'd taken his jacket off, at least. "All of a sudden I hear Chopper 7 overhead," Fisher said. "Sure enough, it was hovering right over the field. It landed right on the pitcher's mound. Bill dropped the ball and had both hands on his hair. Then out of the chopper comes Dave Diles (former WXYZ sportscaster), with a big grin on his face. 'Boy, I bet you didn't think Bonds could move that fast,'" he said.

"Seriously," Fisher added, "I loved that man."

The veteran anchor's former boss, Findlater, revealed, to nobody's surprise, that Bonds "did not take off-camera instruction very well." She recalled a three-hour meeting with her star anchor, during which she stressed that she wanted his commentaries to have local relevance. Three days later he did a commentary about why the swallows return to San Juan, Capistrano every summer, ending with the line, "I think they return because that's where the best tacos are."

Bonds' daughter Mary paid tribute to her stepmother Karen, saying her father got a second chance in life when he met and fell in love with her.

Bonds' funeral takes place at 11 a.m. Friday at Holy Name Catholic Church, 630 Harmon, in Birmingham.