At 81, W.R. "Bill" Bothe acted a fraction of his age. The retired metals executive loved ballgames, trips to Kennywood and, most of all, helping under-privileged children through his volunteer work with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
"He was young at heart. Dad was doing flips off the high dive when he was in his 70s," said Cinda Wrona of Zionsville, Ind., Mr. Bothe's daughter.
Mr. Bothe, of Peters, died Aug. 24 of pulmonary fibrosis. Up until his final days at Family Hospice in Mt. Lebanon, Mr. Bothe kept up his keen sense of humor, challenging family members to a wrestling match. His loved ones remember him by his generosity, integrity and off-the-wall expressions. "We're off like a herd of turtles," he'd often say.
A 1949 graduate of Steubenville High School in Ohio, Mr. Bothe went on to study at Miami University of Ohio. He then joined the Marine Corps and was stationed in Camp Lejeune, N.C.
After completing his military service, he returned to Steubenville and started a career in the steel and metals industry, retiring in 1996. He served as the director of purchasing for National Steel and started his own trading company, International Metals, NA, Inc., where he worked for 11 years.
Retirement provided Mr. Bothe with more free time, which he devoted to the community. At 69, he began volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters and continued until his death. He was named Big Brother of the Year by the Pittsburgh chapter in 2006 for mentoring his "Little Brother" Taylor Bush.
Mr. Bush, of Canonsburg, described Mr. Bothe as a "father figure" whom he has looked up to since he was 7. Now a freshman at California University of Pennsylvania studying history and political science, Mr. Bush said Mr. Bothe had a big influence on his interests.
"This was an 80-year-old man telling a 12-year-old kid about price fixing," Mr. Bush said with a laugh.
Jan Glick, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, met Mr. Bothe five years ago and has watched his relationship with Mr. Bush flourish.
"He taught him how to shave, how to tie a tie, how to build things, how to drive, but the most important thing he did was teach him the meaning of friendship," Ms. Glick said.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Bothe is survived by his wife, Sally, to whom he was married for 60 years; a son, Britt of Stamford, Conn.; and four grandchildren.
A memorial service for Mr. Bothe was held Friday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Upper St. Clair.
Emily Petsko: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1468.