POCATELLO — Local businessman Bill Vickers passed away Wednesday following a brief illness. His son, Greg Vickers of Pocatello, said his dad was 72.
“You didn’t hear that from me, though,” Greg joked.
Bill’s only daughter, Jolene Vickers, said age was just a number to Bill.
“He always acted and lived like he was about 30 years younger than his age, anyway,” Jolene said.
Billy Dean “Bill” Vickers was born in Twin Falls — he’s owned and operated Vickers Western Store on Yellowstone Avenue since 1976.
Bill had four children, along with Greg, a battalion chief at the Pocatello Fire Department, and Jolene, who works in film and television production in Dallas, his son Russ Vickers, who lives in Oxford and works in construction, and his youngest son Preston, who works at the Pocatello store.
He and his wife, Kim, had been married for 31 years.
“(Kim) was truly the love of his life,” Jolene said.
Kim said she met Bill while she was attending Vo-Tech at Idaho State University.
“I had a friend who worked for him at the store, and I came with her to get her check,” Kim said. “He was standing behind the counter, and I thought, ‘Wow, he’s pretty cute,’ and the rest is history.” Along with his rugged good looks, his family said Bill had a flair for western fashion.
“He was always very well dressed,” Kim said.
The family gathered Saturday in Bill’s small office in the back of the store.
The family’s two airedales, Max and Lacy, were stretched out on the floor inside the room, which is decorated with western art and furnished with large leather chairs.
“Airedales are the Vickers family mascots,” Jolene said.
Bill was active in the Pocatello rodeo community and worked as a rodeo announcer and an auctioneer for many years — in 1959, he earned title of All Around Cowboy in state high school competition, and he was inducted into the Idaho Cowboy Hall of Fame.
In 2002, Bill became interested in team cattle penning and sorting, she said.
“I thought he would be gone all the time,” Kim said. “So he bought me a horse, and I started competing in horse reigning.”
Bill earned, a master’s degree in business from ISU, and in 1984, he got his pilot’s license. He was a past president of the Bengal Foundation and was active in the Pocatello Rotary.
“(Bill) was a born businessman,” Kim said. “He used to talk about selling rabbits when he was young.”
Greg described his father as outgoing and bigger than life.
“He could just walk right up to anyone and start talking to them” Greg said. “And he was truly interested.”
Greg’s wife, Vicki, said it was Bill who introduced the two of them when she was also employed at the western store.
“I met Kim and Jolene when I interviewed for the job, they already felt like family,” Vicki said. “Bill could be a little intimidating, (but) he was just such a jokester. You never knew when he was being serious.”
Bill had three granddaughters, and Vicki said he instilled in them a strong work ethic and stronger sense of family.
A history buff, Bill was also interested in American Indian culture. The store is lined with beaded items crafted by local artists.
“It was very important to him to support the (Shoshone and Bannock) tribes and make sure that everything he sold was authentic,” Jolene said.
The family said Bill had a quick wit, and he rarely had a bad day.
Over the years, most of Bill’s children and grandchildren have been employed at the store at one time or another.
Bill’s brother, Jim, operates Vickers Western Store in Twin Falls. That store was launched by their father, Dean.
Dean and Bill’s mother, Alma, are both deceased.
Kim said Bill’s death was unexpected, even though he had been hospitalized several times this past summer.
“It was unexpected because we thought he would get well,” she said.
Bill was very proud of his family, and the business they had built in Pocatello.
Kim said he will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him.
“We’ll all miss that twinkle in eye and his laugh,” Kim said.
Funeral services for Bill are set for Friday at the United Methodists Church at 200 N. 15th Ave. at 5 p.m. The family will meet with friends from 4 to 5 pm.
Greg said in lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to a memorial scholarship in Bill’s name. He added that details about the fund would be released later this week.