William G. Feiner was born on June 20th, 1950 to his loving parents, George and Joyce Feiner. He grew up in South St. Louis along with his brother Tom and sisters Elizabeth and Laurie. He attended grade school at St. Cecilia’s, and high school at St. Mary’s, where he met lifelong friends and was a member of several school clubs. At 17 he bought his first car, a green VW bug, that would live on in photographic infamy for many years afterward. In 1968, he met a beautiful girl named Nancy who would later become his devoted wife and companion for over fifty years. After High School came a short stint in the Army reserves, an even shorter stint at Junior College, and eventually the start of what would become a lifelong career as a tradesman in the Sheet Metal Worker’s union.
As teens turned into twenties, “Wild Bill” began his family. He and Nancy were wed in 1972, and moved into a small apartment together to begin married life. In 1974, they welcomed their first son, Jason, into the world. Soon, the new family moved into their first house, not far from where both of these new parents grew up themselves. The house needed work, but Bill was fast becoming the kind of person who was equal to any task it could create for him. If he didn’t know how to fix it, he taught himself to, and didn’t stop until the work was done properly. He was becoming a true craftsman, not only able to restore an old house but also beginning a lifelong love for restoring antique, spring-wound phonographs. It became a hobby that would bring him many friends, travels, challenges and accomplishments for the rest of his life. Soon enough, the small basement of his south side home was beginning to be filled with beautiful machines from a long-gone era.
As Bill moved into his thirties, he and Nancy welcomed two more sons, Andrew and William, into the world just 17 months apart in 1980 and 1982. With a family that wasn’t so small any more, and having run out of things to rebuild at their first house, the family moved from the city to the nearby suburbs. The new house came with a whole new set of challenges and projects that he would tackle over the following years, creating a good home for his wife and children to live, play and grow in. He worked extremely hard for them, as well as helping friends and loved ones with their own hands-on projects. By now, he had large groups of friends among his work colleagues, fellow hobbyists and anyone else he had helped along the way.
Through the 1990’s, all three of Bill’s sons were growing up and nearing high school or college. He was well established in both his work and his hobbies, becoming increasingly well-known for his ability to restore the phonographs and machines that he was so fascinated by. He worked just as hard as ever, becoming a bit of a perfectionist on the job. Doing something well was very important to him, and if you worked under him and didn’t share that sentiment, you might just get told to “go wait in the truck”. He never hesitated to do something himself to make sure that it was done right. Unfortunately, these were also years in which Bill lost both of his parents. He and his family missed them both very much.
As Bill reached his fifties and his children were becoming adults, he softened up in unexpected ways. His family had no idea that he was the world’s greatest friend to dogs, and every dog loved him back. They would all follow him anywhere. Somehow, they all knew that he was a good man. After many years as a Sheet Metal Worker, Bill retired at the age of 60. It didn’t slow him down in the slightest. He became more and more involved in his lifelong hobby, and by now the basement collection of phonographs that began so many years ago held pieces rivaling many museums. They were treasures to him, ones that he sought out from every corner of the country and brought back to life. Retirement also meant that Nancy was finally able to get him to see the world a little, travelling to places like Russia, Europe and Alaska. Day to day, he continued to use the skills he had developed over many years to help his family and friends build or fix a list of things too long to ever write out in full. At the suggestion of his doctor, he started regularly riding his bike with old friends, an activity he quickly grew to love and did as much as he was able to.
In 2021, Bill saw his middle son, Andrew, get married. He finally got the daughter he always wanted when he welcomed his Daughter-in-Law, Sophie, into the family. He had grown to love and care about her as much as any of his children. His love for wonderful, old machines also continued to grow, and he added “moving pictures” to his unending list of rarities to collect. Soon enough, kinetoscope parts littered his workshop along with brass horns and worn mechanisms. His curiosity never ceased. In 2022, Bill and Nancy celebrated 50 years of marriage, having seen each other through many difficult times as well as joyous ones. The decades they spent together and the sons that they raised are a testament to how much they loved and cared for each other.
Bill Feiner passed away on June 6th, 2023, just before his 73rd birthday. Far too soon. He was a friend to so many people, for so many different reasons. He left behind a family that loves him very much and will miss him dearly. His memory will be felt in every thing he ever built. Every brick he ever laid. In every piece of wood he sanded and stained. In every broken, old thing that he made beautiful again.
May he rest in peace.
SERVICES: Funeral at KUTIS AFFTON CHAPEL, 10151 Gravois, on Monday, June 12 at 1pm. Interment Resurrection Cemetery. Visitation Sunday 3-8pm.