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Bill Eisenhuth passed away suddenly at 87 years old on January 17, 2023. Predeceased by his parents, Allen and Virginia, as well as brother Allen “Ike” Eisenhuth. Survived by his cherished wife of 39 years, Annette (nee Moran), son Keith (Margaret) and grandson Eli. Also survived by an abundance of loving in-laws, 45 nieces and nephews, and over 50 great-nieces and nephews. Bill always said the highlights of his life were his marriage to Annette and his baptism with son Keith at St Thomas of Villanova.
A compassionate and deeply spiritual people person, Bill’s loving energy and zany sense of humor will be dearly missed by his many family and friends, who were accustomed to seeing him with a book on psychiatry or theology, along with a Greyhound timetable. Bill saw the worth in everyone and easily engaged and maintained friendships with people from all walks of life.
As a survivor, Bill was practically raised on a Greyhound in its heyday. The wonderful drivers noticed him as a boy left standing at the 69th St. bus terminal on weekends and took him along on their runs. He became mascot and they became “family.” He eventually drove Greyhound buses and dearly loved and remained involved with the company and its people on many levels for the rest of his life. He loved Greyhound’s service to all people everywhere, from big cities to ‘little towns and shanties’ all over the nation, and its rich history serving troops during WWII, the Freedom Riders, and in more recent years the national program for Runaway Youth.
Bill lived in service to the lost and lonely. As a young teen, Bill rode his bicycle regularly from Upper Darby to Norristown State Hospital to talk to the people ‘behind the fence’ he saw in the newspaper. The doctor noticed his uncanny ability to communicate with them and took him inside and ‘under her wing.’ Bill found a vocation in the mental health field, beginning as a teen at Manhattan State and Bellevue Hospitals in NY, when state hospitals were known as ‘snake pits.’
Also devoted to young people, Bill served as church youth leader in his community. He worked with adolescents struggling with mental illness at Haverford State Hospital and at Penn, as well as adults on the admissions unit. He transferred to Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry and created a successful volunteer program after recruiting as many as seventy local high school students, many of whom went on to work in mental health and other helping professions.
After another stint in transportation working in various capacities at Amtrak, Bill returned to mental health work for another ten years, serving as Assistant Director at Delaware County Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Service and then at Mercy Fitzgerald Psychiatric Crisis Center until late ’80’s. In crisis work, he spent many hours training and working with police throughout the county and at the Delaware County Police Academy. It was then that Bill witnessed the intersection of law enforcement and severely mentally ill people and developed the deepest respect and concern for police officers, who in their everyday line of duty, remain front-line, first responders for all persons with community mental health crises.
When state mental hospitals started closing, Bill became a familiar figure in the dark of night, feeding and following as many former Byberry patients and others suffering from serious mental illness, living and dying in the streets of Philadelphia and New York. He became a charismatic advocate, lecturing regularly to professional and student groups and community agencies in the 1980’s. He founded and chaired the Philadelphia Advocates for the Mentally Disabled with a small group of professionals, focusing media attention on the plight of the abandoned seriously mentally ill. His work was featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Larry Kane Inside Story, Philadelphia Magazine, NPR, and an article in Hospital and Community Psychiatry. For his street work Bill was awarded the PA Police Officers Association’s Man of the Year Award, the Benjamin Rush Award, and an Honorary Doctorate from Villanova University.
Bill remained actively involved with all of his interests in retirement. He felt privileged to be able to combine his love for buses and young people and their families by serving his community as “Bus driver Bill” with Haverford Township. He often said "Can you believe they are paying me for this?"
Bill remained passionate and saddened by the untold thousands of untreated seriously mentally ill people and others suffering on the streets and in prisons all over the nation. When Covid struck, one of the very last things Bill said at the hospital before his passing was, “Can you imagine all the people dying alone on the streets like this?”
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to:
Project Home, Outreach, c/o Carol Thomas, www.projecthome.org/outreach-coordination-center.
For further information or to donate: www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org. Both of these were near and dear to Bill's heart.
Bill's Funeral Mass will be livestreamed. Please visit St. Thomas of Villanova Church website at st.thomasofvillanova.org - look for Livestreaming for St. Thomas of Villanova Rosemont scheduled for Friday, January 26, 2023 and Bill's name. Click on Bill's name and the Funeral Mass will be livestreamed beginning at 9:50 AM.
Thursday, January 26, 2023
6:00 - 9:00pm (Eastern time)
The Donohue Funeral Home
Friday, January 27, 2023
9:00 - 10:00am (Eastern time)
Friday, January 27, 2023
Starts at 10:00am (Eastern time)
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