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Saturday, May 30, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Bill Exley to speak at EDSS-influenced fundraiser for WCC

Both the musings and the music will have a decidedly EDSS flavour at a fundraising event for Woolwich Counselling Centre (WCC) scheduled for later this month in Elmira.

Former teacher Bill Exley, himself the subject of more than a few stories, will be doing the musing, while grads Michael Cressman and Sheila Dietrich will provide the soundtrack to the evening.

Music & Musings will feature an evening of stories and anecdotes from Exley, who taught in the English department for more than three decades. He is scheduled to deliver a speech with the theme of “Seeing Ourselves in New Ways.” That will be followed by the musical performances.

WCC’s Ken Reid added that Exley is well-known in these parts, having taught some 4,000 students, including Cressman, throughout his long career. He is also no stranger to music, being a longstanding a member of the Nihilist Spasm Band, a London-based noise band formed in 1965.

“Exley is an eccentric, brilliant, dynamic, dramatic speaker and teacher,” said Reid. “Everyone who was in his class has memories or an Exley story they can tell. He was the teacher that everyone had a story about.”

Exley’s speech will be about 25 minutes, keeping his former EDSS students as the audience in mind.

“It’s short and humorous and introduces some points to think about in terms of life and so on,” said Exley of his plan for the evening.

“I was going to refer to a couple of poems by Tennyson. Ones that I think are meaningful to people. I even include a reference to Homer Simpson,” he added, referring to a protagonist from the popular sitcom. “I’ll make sure I’ll make it interesting to people, and tell some intriguing stories.”

It is Reid’s first time organizing the event himself. A staple of this particular fundraiser is choosing an engaging speaker who will resonate with the local audience. Reid said that Exley came to mind right away based on his being such a colourful character.

Woolwich Counselling Centre typically holds a fundraising event annually, with a “free-will” offering rather than charging for tickets. This year’s outing expands on the format to incorporate musical performances rather than solely speeches.

Reid encouraged those interested to show up early to grab a good seat.

Cressman and Dietrich will begin the evening with a solo performance each, followed by a duet.

“They’re extraordinary musicians, and they can sing anything,” said Reid.

“The evening will be an opportunity for people to experience different kinds of art,” said Exley.

Music & Musings is scheduled for May 29 at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Elmira, beginning at 7 p.m. More information is available by calling 519-669-8651.



  1. If you have Wild Bill’s contact information, please let him know that I would like to send him a personal message of gratitude. Hopefully, he will not remember my name, but I was privileged to have been in his classes after the Drayton High School closed and I chose to attend EDSS – graduated in 1968. One of my classmates forwarded this link.
    One very endearing story was one Christmas when a neighbour in Waterloo inflicted everyone within earshot with seasonal music, much to Bill’s annoyance. He set up his speakers on his front lawn and retaliated, at full volume, with Frank Zappa.
    Eccentric yes, but one of the most incredible teachers I have ever had. I have benefitted many times by the challenges of his very high standards and unwillingness to accept anything less than perfection. Regrettably, I will be unable to listen to his “musings” but I remember him fondly. I would be aghast if I have made any errors in this message because that would draw his immediate disappointment.

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