For the first time since 2002, local realtor Bill Haxton won’t be working daily at his real estate office on pending sales and new listings. This past month, he vacated his Sierra Drive office and closed Mountain View Realty.
At age 69 he will be taking things a little bit slower. In an ongoing bout with what he calls a “scary heart condition,” Bill said he is now showing dramatic, almost daily, improvement.
“My doctor has told me that if I undergo an outpatient procedure the results would be that in a few months I would be back to 100 percent,” Haxton said.
But if you know Bill like his legion of friends and volunteers do, you know that his retirement from business does not mean he’s stepping away from his role as Kaweah Country’s performing arts guru. In fact, he will continue as the guiding force of Three Rivers Performing Arts, a group that evolved under Haxton’s tutelage after he worked with Danielle Belen, virtuoso violinist, to create Center Stage Strings.
That successful summer music camp for classical violin, viola, and cello performers, spent its first five years in Three Rivers but in 2016 moved to the campus of University Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 2015, Belen took a faculty position as a violin instructor at U of M.
Bill Haxton remains classical music’s most visible local booster and principally responsible for the growing popularity of the performing arts in Three Rivers.
“We’ll still continue our annual winter concert series,” said Haxton. “We already have three of the programs booked.”
Haxton said the annual free outdoor Concert on the Grass, inherited from Dr. Harry Ison more than a decade ago, will continue on the last Saturday of September. However, whether there is a 2016 Concert on the Grass is dependent Bill’s current prognosis and recovery.
If you think the Three Rivers chapter of Bill Haxton’s life is interesting, wait until you learn about what he did before he came to Three Rivers in 1999. Before moving to Three Rivers, Bill and his wife, Anne, were recently returned from a seven-year sailing voyage to many of the principal Pacific ports of call.
“I’ve been a writer for most of my career so now I hope to complete several projects that are in the works,” Bill said.
The Pacific chronicles of that seven years of life at sea are fascinating, Bill said, but most of his writing time lately is being devoted to recalling the Vietnam War years. Bill served as an Air Force pilot flying transports in and out of Vietnam until he read the Pentagon Papers.
The Pentagon Papers were released by Daniel Ellsberg, excerpts from which were first published in the New York Times in 1971. The papers revealed that the Johnson administration had secretly enlarged the war and systematically lied to the American public and Congress.
“Once I found out the truth, I could no longer continue in my duties as a pilot and applied for a discharge as a conscientious objector,” Bill said.
That life-changing epiphany caused a huge rift between Bill and his father, a former Marine Corps pilot who was shocked by his son’s change of heart. The true story has a happy ending, however, but it took 15 years until there was reconciliation.
Bill and Anne Haxton are not leaving Three Rivers anytime soon. There are ample amenities here in this mountain community they’ve come to know and love and great classical music to keep Bill busy and entertained.
Like many folks who embark on retirement, they merely begin a new chapter in their life’s story. Three Rivers can look forward to Bill sharing his story with us all.