Kirkland Plowman Kept Hills Cleared
Because he went out in the dark of night, most people didn’t see Bill Callahan at work.
But to date, almost 370,000 people watched him work his magic on YouTube.
In a video shot by Town of Kirkland Highway Department Superintendent Jon Scott in 2015, Callahan tackles Skyline Drive in what is formally called the Walter Snow Fighter plow, but affectionately known as The Beast. Yet, with the precision of a master baker trimming the frosting on a wedding cake, Callahan maneuvers the plow to clear the road of snow all while avoiding mailboxes, street signs and other obstacles.
At last week’s 25-minute Kirkland Town Board meeting, the re-organizational one to start 2021, Scott said Callahan’s death the day before from Covid-19 was a great loss to the department and community. Callahan worked for the town for 50 years, including the last 16 after he retired in 2004.
“He started in 1970,’’ Scott said, “and when he retired I went to ask him if I could hire him back. He worked nights plowing the roads up in the hills and knew how to make the Walter work for him.’’
In summers Callahan worked at the Transfer Station, where people could see the face of the man working. But his affection for the Walter was well known, even earning mention in his obituary.
Scott said Callahan enjoyed keeping the roads clear in the western hills of the town. Over...