As Bill Showacre approaches his 70th birthday, he abhors the notion that the so-called "golden years" must be spent in a rocking chair watching television.
A bachelor homeowner living in the Germantown section of Annapolis, not far from busy West Street, the retired Annapolis High industrial arts teacher can be found most any day assembling his current pride and joy -- an Avid Flyer airplane, which he hopes to be flying soon over Chesapeake Bay country.
His personal aircraft is a small two-seater plane, powered by a little, but powerful, two-cylinder engine that will allow the aircraftto take off within 50 feet and ascend rapidly at a 45-degree angle. This is no toy airplane.
While the aircraft was delivered in kit form, ready to be assembled, performing that demanding task requires considerable expertise in metal-working and related mechanical skills.It calls for patience and dedication to accuracy; there is no marginfor error.
A veteran of both World War II and the Korean conflict, Showacre did not serve in the Air Force. He learned to fly only after retiring from the public school system. His wartime service was with Army artillery units, and he retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Born in Baltimore, he was living with his parents in in Fairmont, W.Va., when he joined the National Guard in 1937. Not until after World War II was he able to complete his education, earning a master's degree from Stout State College in Wisconsin. Following a year of high school teaching in San Diego, he returned east and settledin Annapolis, with his widowed mother and her sister, both now deceased.
After nearly 20 years of teaching, Showacre decided to retire and do the many things he had longed to accomplish but for which he never had time. One of his pursuits was sailing on the Chesapeake. An experienced sailor, he owns a sleek, ocean-going, 27-foot sailboat and has taught sailing to landlubbers at the Annapolis Sailing School.
Associated with the Boy Scout movement since his early years, Showacre continues as a Scout leader and merit badge counselor. He maintains a serious interest in rifle competition, including black-powder weapons. He also owns a canoe and enjoys hiking and camping.
One of his many hobbies was building and flying radio-controlled model airplanes -- an interest that led him to try building a full-size airplane. The former teacher took flying lessons at the Fort Meade field where, weather permitting, he has continued to sharpened his skills.
He built his first plane in his basement. The second proved too large for the cellar, so he began assembling the fuselage in his living room. Since he is unmarried, there were no complaints to be countered.
He did, however, have to take a brief break to build a two-car garage in his backyard. The structure does not shelter his station wagon, but serves as a workshop and hangar. It is fitted with heat, air conditioning and telephone.
Showacre also is an active bicyclist. He is often seen peddling from his home to the Elks Lodge, of which heis a member. One recent summer, he joined a travel group that flew to Holland and made a tour of the dikes by bicycle.
Last summer, hevisited Leningrad and Moscow in the Soviet Union. Asked for his reactions to that country, he said his observations merely confirmed his impression that "communism is rotten to the core, and so is the food."
When Showacre isn't busy flying, touring, sailing or working on his airplane, he does find time to do other things. He has served as a volunteer aide for the Anne Arundel Medical Center Auxiliary.
One of his close associates calls him a "man for all seasons." In late spring, he's the first to don walking shorts. In fall, he gets into his Air Force flying jacket. In winter, he covers his head with a north woods fur hat.
Those who know him marvel at his stamina, his on-the-job patience and his mechanical skill. As one friend remarked: "Bill Showacre is one retiree who will never have need for a senior citizen center, for he is totally self-reliant, a genuine Renaissance man in the garb of a frontiersman."