Sunday, April 22, 2018
A VERY HAPPY FRIEND
The high school I attended (Poly High in Long Beach, CA was large by any standards. I graduated in the class of 1953, and there were about 900 in that class. I took what was then called the “college prep courses” but my real focus was in journalism. And it was the kids in the journalism classes during those three years who became my closest friends. Bill Warch was one of them.
He was one of the funniest kids I ever met – funny to be with and funny to listen to. He could take anything and turn it into something that would cause all of us laboring away under a deadline break into laughter. I was always afraid he was going to tell us we were too deadly serious, but no, he just had a knack for making anything funny.
As I recall, we had a short period of dating, but I really was not focused on my social life, so we just remained very good friends. Our journalism classmates probably were “grinds,” an early “epithet” for kids who were way too focused on work, rather than “play” – but Bill kept us laughing. He remained a special friend.
Finally we graduated, spread out to the various schools of higher learning and started our adult lives. I saw Bill again at our 5th High School Religion, and at that time he was engaged to be married and had already graduated from Long Beach State College. He was also studying with the “Players Ring” Theater in Hollywood, already starting to pick up some acting roles. He and I had met again at the reunion committee planning meeting. He was still funny, but with a little charm by this time.
When planning began for our 10th reunion, he phoned and asked if I’d like to ride with him to the committee meeting, as at that time both of us lived in Orange County and the meeting was in Long Beach. It seemed like a good idea; the big shock was that a very handsome 27 year old knocked on my door. I was still expecting to see the kid I graduated with, slightly pudgy and kind of funny hair, but age and experience had done a very good job on him. Yes, he still could turn things into laughable stories, but it was like we both finally had become adults. And we had, of course! That was the last I ever saw him.
I didn’t go to the 20th reunion because I had shortly before then divorced and wasn’t in any kind of condition to go to such an event. At the time of the 30th reunion, I had just married again, and had no desire to attend a reunion.
One evening in 1979 I opened the evening newspaper and in the obituary column saw that Rev. Bill Warch had died. I read it carefully and yes, it was the same Bill Warch that I knew, my funny friend – who at some point had left the acting profession and was now a well-known fellow in Anaheim who had actually founded a church he called “Church of Christian Living.” Furthermore, he had written books and handbooks that are still being sold today. His religion was not of a standard variety but you’ll get the idea when I quote from one “”If you are getting tired of being called a sinner yet you want to know yourself and God better, you are about to experience the most fantastic revelation in your life….” I could tell that Bill had channeled his own smiling and positive approach to life – the very same kind of mirth that I remember from those high school days – into his life’s work.
Unfortunately, it was a short life for him. I cannot remember the cause of death but it seems that it might have been something like leukemia. I am sorry I could never have told him how much fun being his friend was, not only for me but for the others in our little journalism group. The best I can do is to name him as one of the Immortal Nobodies that I never want to forget!