William McNulty

Obituary of William Henry McNulty

Bill McNulty 1942-2020 What is Wild Bill doing now? Is he running once again up Mt. Washington, his favorite road race because it proved a man no one would call tall could be bigger than a mountain? Is he the center of attention, telling a joke to make half the room blush and the other half roar, or inventing some dance move or getting carried away and taking anyone he can with him for the ride? Is he quietly, almost secretly, helping someone who didn’t expect it but badly needed it, bending his own hungry, sly spontaneity into benevolence? He is doing all of that, forever now, in the memory of the family and friends who were part of his unlikely, sometimes rocky, always interesting romp through life. William H. McNulty died December 14 at age 78 at the Cedars nursing home in Cranston, RI, after contracting COVID-19. He had for years lived with Lewy body disease. As the illness progressively stripped his capacities, Bill continued to surprise his loved ones with what endured - his toughness and his determination and also that sparkle that made clear, even after speech left him, that he was still up for anything. He leaves behind a legacy that only a big heart, a compulsion to be loved, and a sometimes reckless sense of mischief can imprint on this world. It continues in those who will tell his stories and remember his quest for joy. Bill grew up in Providence and Warwick, Rhode Island. He served in the Army and then went to work in industrial and manufacturing jobs at companies like Brown & Sharpe, Evans Plating, and Uvex. Later, while living in Florida, he had a much different second act as a caregiver in nursing homes. His gregarious bearing found a new canvas in the patients he served, coaxing out their stories, and making new ones that they could laugh over together. Still, Bill’s true calling was not his work career. It was his life as a runner. He started running competitively as a teenager and found a passion for it long before it became a mainstream sport. Naturally, he took it to an extreme, logging endless miles across New England roads in all weather, running through the night after second shift work hours, running marathons like they were just something to do on a weekend. The Boston Marathon was his favorite, and he ran the New York Marathon and marathons in Australia during his years living Down Under. And then there was always Mt. Washington, nine miles up inclines that test car engines. He ran it two dozen times and had the mountain tattooed on his shoulder, like the flag of a vanquished foe. If long-distance running is a lonely pursuit, you would never know it by Bill. He built a community around it. Sweating, spiting, snorting all the way, Bill would also be laughing with buddies in stride on training runs and holding court among them at post-race parties in a flux of beer, Bengay, and bravado. Fun was his default setting. There was fun to be had somehow in almost any situation when Bill was around. He was convinced he just had to find it, and when that didn’t work, he would make it up himself, even when propriety might suggest otherwise. Only a fool could believe every story Bill told. But you could never call it a pure bull because it came from his heart. He was not always good, and he was frequently bad. He was never a saint, but he was forever himself. A memorial will be held when coronavirus safety protocols allow us to properly honor the life of a man who was always the life of the party. Bill leaves his beloved wife Deborah McNulty, his sons Colin McNulty and Ian McNulty from his first marriage to Mary (McLaren) Quadrini, his stepdaughters Regina Fay and Chrissy Benitez, his surviving siblings, and five grandchildren. Due to COVID-19, William's services will be private. For further information and condolences, please visit mountpleasantfh.com.
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