It is with great sadness that we report that long-time juggler and frequent IJA Festival attendee Bill Dietrich passed away on September 19, 2017, following complications from surgery. He was 87 years old.
William (Bill) Dietrich was born on March 18, 1930 in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania (USA), and lived most of his life in Erie, PA. Though not a professional juggler, Bill was known to many jugglers from the United States due to his frequent attendance at juggling conventions and festivals, and his love and enthusiasm for juggling in general. Bill attended the first IJA Convention in 1948, having just graduated from high school, and most of the subsequent early IJA annual get-togethers as well (only missing when he was stationed overseas in the United States Army). Early write-ups of those early IJA conventions often mentioned Bill’s love for juggling and non-stop activity and energy. He was a self-taught juggler and juggled for over 71 years!
Bill would continue attending juggling festivals and conventions his entire life. He was still attending the annual IJA Festival up until just a few years ago, and likely holds the records for most IJA conventions/festivals attended, and is probably second in line for the largest span between first and latest festival attended (just behind Bobby Jule). Bill also attended all 40 of the RIT Juggling Festivals to date, including the one in April 2017.
Many current jugglers know Bill for his blue jumpsuit and incredible juggling (6 rings / 5 clubs) for a man in his 80s. He also often juggled packets of paper plates (in place of rings) and was a wonderful technical ball bouncer.
Bill served as an officer in the early IJA and was made an Honorary Life Member back in 1979!
1950 IJA Festival – Bill is 4th from the left in the second row from the top
Bill with other old-timers from 1987
Though Bill never was a full-time professional juggler, he did perform frequently and has been an inspiration to many jugglers over the years. He worked as an engineer assistant at Hammermill Paper Company for 43 years. Following retirement, he worked as a driver for Rite-Aid for another 16 years. He was a member of St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, and belonged to the Troubadours for 40 years, as well as the Scrabble Club.
A few years ago, Bill donated some props and all of his photo albums and scrapbooks to The Museum of Juggling History. Among the many wonderful things he gave were ribbons from many of those first IJA Conventions. Bill also donated many of his props to be used by juggling clubs and under-privileged groups.
Bill leaves behind his wife Berthe, daughters Darlene and Robin, sisters Gwen and Brenda, and ten grandchildren. The IJA extends its utmost condolences to his friends and family.