OAKHURST — Area law enforcement agencies have organized a heartfelt sendoff for Bill Howie, the man seen waving to passing motorists outside the CHP station most mornings for years.
Howie, 94, a Valley native, used to run Mountain Auto Parts in Oakhurst. Since 2004, he’s perched on his walker on the sidewalk outside the CHP office waving enthusiastic “good mornings” to passing motorists streaming by on Highway 49.
“[Bill] has been doing this for a few years, telling everyone good morning so they start their day on a positive note. He’s been such a positive fixture in the Oakhurst area,” said Officer Jason Bettini, public information officer for CHP’s Oakhurst office.
The retired World War II vet is legally blind and in recent years, said he couldn’t see faces inside the vehicles. So he liked to count the beeps he got back every day. He told a Fresno publication his one-day record was 168.
But now Bill is moving to Clovis to live with his daughter.
So on Friday (July 17), at 7:45 a.m. sharp, the CHP, together with the Madera Sheriff’s Office and other community supporters, will be conducting a brief farewell parade as Bill takes his post outside the CHP office one last time.
Bettini said parade participants will gather Friday at the Mountain Christian Center at 7:30 a.m.
“The parade will be short,” Bettini said. “As the vehicles pass Bill, folks can wave and honk and then be on their way.”
Bill Howie says his role as Oakhurst’s unofficial dispenser of morning good cheer was really no big deal. “I just wanted to say good morning to everybody. It made it kind of hard with my eyesight…So I asked them to beep.”
This Friday morning outside the CHP office, all the beeping will be for Bill.