BEHIND THE SCENES:
Bill Trawick Writes a Book
by: Linda Dove
The Gadsden GAB is a monthly publication that’s written by BG residents, for BG residents. Every two weeks, we’ll feature an article from the GAB on the Bishop Gadsden website. You can read the entire July edition here.
“It never occurred to me to write a book,” asserts C. William Trawick.
But that’s the way things have turned out. Bill Trawick, who spent 34 years as founding President/CEO of Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community, is the author of the recently published Journey of Faith, the comprehensive story of Bishop Gadsden’s founding and growth as part of one of the oldest senior living organizations in the US. “I couldn’t be more surprised,” says Bill.
So how did this big surprise happen? Time to go behind the scenes with our new favorite author. “I’ve been very fortunate in the opportunities I’ve had,” says Bill. “There have been so many times that doors have opened and new paths were presented. The Lord has been there with me all the way. I think that is the case here. Unexpected but such a gift.”
The creation of the new book started off in a very small way. According to Bill: “When I retired I felt some concern that I had left a crammed and almost neglected file cabinet filled with papers and photographs outlining the history and many of the important issues surrounding Bishop Gadsden. And, like many new retirees, I was searching around for the next steps. I thought I might help by organizing the files and sorting through some of the pictures. Once I got into it, I was hooked. I couldn’t stop reading and talking about what I had found.”
Early into his research, Bill was invited to share some of the information at one of BG’s monthly Resident Update meetings, which, due to COVID precautions, actually was held outdoors in the campus’s Palm Court. Ralph and Nancy Edwards, North Carolinians who moved to BG in 2010, were among those fascinated by the history Bill presented. A few days after the Update, the Edwards sought Bill out and offered to support further research with the goal of publishing a history of Bishop Gadsden.
Almost four years later, with over a hundred pages of carefully researched text and after sorting through a thousand or more photographs, he had given life to the history of Bishop Gadsden and, yes, to a BOOK.
Perhaps the biggest advantage that Bill brought to the project was that he had been there almost at the beginning of the community as it is known today. He had seen it all, worked on it all, knew the people involved, and had provided the leadership needed to help create and expand the James Island campus.
“What surprised me most was the incredible amount of information available,” he notes. “When I began looking, I found so many records and reports on how the Episcopal Church had worked for almost 175 years of history to meet important needs of the Charleston area. But then I also found areas where there wasn’t information. In many cases, our files or other church histories could help provide that.”
How do you actually write a book? “I can’t say I was the most organized author. I didn’t keep special hours or work on a regular schedule. I’d work intensely for a week or so and then I’d need to take a break. Do other things for a while. Go to my house in the mountains or visit friends. But before too long, I’d begin thinking of the book again and I’d go right back to it. It was hard work at times but it was also a labor of love. Fascinating. One of the most difficult things for me was to keep perspective. I’d get to an event and it would be so interesting that it was all I could do to move on.”
With the support of the Edwards and Vice President of Mission and Communications Kimberly Borts, the team located a publisher, the local Evening Post Books. “Finding the publisher was a big step forward,” explains Bill. “They were especially important in the final design, incorporating and highlighting the wonderful pictures to illustrate our story.”
Bill also credits the team of residents and team member volunteers who contributed to the project. Sarah Tipton was there all the way but others also were closely involved. Connie Baldwin, a former BG staff member; Elsa McDowell, a journalist with long experience with Grace Church’s publications; publishing pro Connie Wyrick; and the always available Kimberly Borts were integral to the final presentation of the history. “Definitely a group effort,” says Bill.
And the question, of course – what’s next? “Perhaps some more time in the mountains but I’m not making plans. I would never have predicted most of the things that I’ve done in my life. All those opportunities the Lord has provided. I’m just waiting to see what comes next,” Bill reports.