Tony Reid’s weekly Shop Talk segment focuses on the goings-on at the hobby shop he helps manage in Central PA.
No one called William H. Nash, Jr. by his given name at the card shop.
Mr. Nash, born in Buffalo, New York, was affectionately known as Buffalo Bill or Buffalo Billy.
Bill had been a long time, loyal patron of the store. He was a fixture long before I was ever employed there.
Many moons ago, he and his family moved to Pennsylvania. He lived in Mifflin County (PA) and would drive up to see us once a week, coming from about an hour south of our shop. At his advanced age, that wasn’t always the easiest task, I’m sure. No worries, because we all knew it was one of the highlights of his week, as it was ours.
He was as much a member of our card shop family as he was a customer. He was a staple over the course of many, many years.
Bill would come in so often and spend so much time with us that he actually had his own fold-out chair that we saved for him behind the counter. We would pull it out and make sure he was comfortable every time he came to visit.
As you would guess from his nickname, he was a big fan of the Buffalo Bills. He would stop in with his well worn Beckett Sports Almanacs, checklists, handwritten notes and whatever else he needed to bring to help fill gaps in his ever-growing collection.
Not only did he collect Buffalo Bills cards and related items, he collected some of the all-time football greats from past decades. In fairness, his list was ever changing. We kept it on hand and updated it often with players that he would collect from week to week or month to month.
He was very particular about his football team and who and what he would collect. Bill would collect current players on the team and then remove them from his collection when they left Buffalo, with the exception of holding on to the all time greats. He had a very fluid Bills collection. When he no longer had need for certain cards, he would fill two and three-row boxes and donate them to the local Goodwill.
In our many conversations over the years Bill also hinted that he owned a sizeable collection of vintage cards in various sports. The names Mantle, Mays, Clemente and many others came up in our talks. That only added to the allure of what might be, or have been at one point, sitting at Bill’s place.
To say he was very sharp in his old age would be an understatement. Bill was very quick-witted with a memory like a steel trap and always had a great story or two to share, whether it be about sports or another love of his- classic movies and the legendary actors that appeared in them.
His wife had passed years ago but Bill would still make it a point to go out and see matinees every week all by himself. He always gave us a Siskel & Ebert-esque movie review each week.
In recent months, it was getting harder and harder for him to carry the boxes out to his car so I would often take them out for him and get him situated for his ride back home.
Even more recently, Bill had stopped coming into the shop altogether. We chalked it up to the current state of the world with the pandemic and all. He would give us a call we would fill his want list, let him know what we got in for him that week and mail care packages to his home.
Being a loyal Buffalo Bills fan, you can imagine our surprise when we hadn’t heard from Bill for a few weeks as his team was firing on all cylinders and advancing through the AFC playoffs led by Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs and a hungry defense.
The curious looks we gave each other from time to time and random inquiries as something jogged our memory eventually turned into legitimate concern when we phoned his home a few times and got no response.
We were hoping for the best but we were also preparing for the worst.
Our worst fears came true just late last week when we found our buddy Buffalo Bill’s obituary online.
Our beloved Billy had passed away at his home just a few days before Christmas on the afternoon of December 22nd.
William H. Nash, Jr, a proud Air Force veteran, was an avid sports fan and also a collector of stamps, coins and a connoisseur of vintage Hollywood movies and memorabilia.
I hope our buddy has a ticket and plenty of popcorn for every movie he could ever want to see and the best seat in the house for his beloved Bills games next season and beyond.
Rest easy, Mr. Nash.