Photos by John McCaslin
Rappahannock County is a much better place to have William M. “Bill” Dietel as its friend, neighbor and untiring volunteer. Which made Saturday’s surprise 90th birthday celebration for the philanthropic and educational leader — “Nine Decades of a Life Well Lived!” — at the Dietel Family’s “Over Jordan Farm” all the more special and meaningful.
Not only did Bill’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren arrive from as far away as Montana to help surprise him, several lifelong friends and former colleagues came to sing happy birthday and offer fond memories of Bill, including Vermont architect and Williams College lecturer Ben Benedict (pictured here with Bill), who was practicing in New York City in the early 1980s when called upon by Bill and his wife Linda to design their beautiful Rappahannock home.
In an emotional tribute, Bill credited Linda (seen here with Neville Turner of the Virginia Chutney Company), who has her own rich history of volunteerism and philanthropy here and across the country, for everything that he’s become today. Among the celebration’s gifts, Bill finishes the final piece of a large portrait puzzle taken by renowned White House photographer Dennis Brack.