Bill Thompson was presented with the 2018 L. Frank Baum Memorial Award Aug. 11 in Pomona, California. The auction Bill led had just ended before dinner, so his expertise and energy was top-of-mind for the cheering crowd.
Scott Cummings (2017 LFB recipient) made the presentation following a traditional format that hints at the winner with increasingly revealing details. As a past recipient I knew what name was coming and kept sneaking looks at Bill. Scott was well into the speech before Bill caught on, responding with genuine surprise and emotion. Wondering why we chose Bill this year? Well let me tell you….
Bill has served as our auctioneer for many years, which is nothing at all like most fundraising auctions where some paid, fast talker shows up for a couple of hours then disappears at the last bang of a gavel. Within the Club, our volunteer auctioneer manages all aspects of this job from start to finish. He advises people who have material they want to donate or consign, fielding emails, phone calls and visiting their homes. He regularly packs donations, organizes and stores them in his own home, and personally drives them across country to be available at our auction sites.
Of course the auction income is important to the Club, but it’s also important to our educational mission to identify and describe everything for collectors in both the auction and the silent auction. Bill does all that—and he’s introduced absentee bidding, expanded to accept PayPal payments, and writes the descriptions for the auction lists that he distributes in advance. He maintains the database of listings and bidders, working with two helpers to tally up winner totals, and get us through payments efficiently.
When Bill first attended our Oz Centennial convention in Bloomington, Illinois, he lost no time jumping right in. That year he helped decorate the hotel for the event. Soon he was contributing to bibliographic research and writing articles for the Bugle. I recently blogged about his piece describing the Wonderful Game of Oz. His interest in collecting material by W.W. Denslow resulted in the most extensive checklist of Denslow material available. He’s served on our Board of Directors, and we’ve recently nominated him for that service again.
Bill’s bibliographic research led to his developing an extensive personal research collection that he generously shares. And this year his expertise evolved into the publication of his massively comprehensive Bibliographia Baumiana. It was a milestone in many ways and provided a perfect moment to recognize Bill for his outstanding contributions, as the plaque reads, to the saga of Oz.