Personal photos from Bill and Shirley English's personal collection
Born in 1923, Bill English spent the first eight years of his life in Wiseman, Alaska. His father, William English, Sr., was the storekeeper in Wiseman. The family moved to a ranch in Oregon, and Bill then lived with his aunt in California to finish his education while his parents returned to Alaska. After completing his education, Bill returned to Wiseman in the summers to visit and later as a pilot. Bill made his living as a commercial pilot, mostly for Wien Airlines, and also worked as a pilot trainer and FAA pilot certifier. Bill and Shirley English were married in 1948. Bill continues to maintain ties with the community and people of Wiseman.
Originally from Seattle, Washington, Shirley English came to Alaska in 1945 as a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She married Bill English in 1948, who grew up in Wiseman, Alaska and made a living as a commercial pilot. As the wife of a pilot, she spent many hours waiting for her husband to come back home safely. For a number of years, Shirley wrote and edited news stories from around the Alaskan bush for the KFAR radio show, "Tundra Topics," while Bill flew in and out of those same communities. In 1949, Shirley and Bill had their first child, Sharon, followed by their son, William Jr. (Billy) in 1950. From 1953-1957, Shirley juggled the demands of being a mother while also teaching literature and composition at UAF. Shirley English passed away in October 2021. For more about Shirley English, see her obituary in the Anchorage Daily News newspaper.