William “Bill” Thomas Ennis Jr., 64, of Ocean View, Del., formerly of Washington, D.C., went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, June 2, 2009, after a nearly two-year battle with cancer. He was a federal employee for 38 years, most spent with the IRS, but he is more fondly remembered as a storyteller, teacher, comedian, basketball lover and avid golfer.
As a teacher, Ennis taught American Sign Language for 30 years. He and longtime friend Chuck Buemi began their ASL teaching career in their homes with a group of motivated students. Ennis went on to teach at local colleges wherever he lived. His workshops on ASL and deaf culture were popular from Alaska to Maine. He was also a signmaster for several theaters in the Washington, D.C., area, including: Arena Stage, Ford’s Theater, Folger’s Shakespeare Theater and the Kennedy Center.
His greatest legacy was his storytelling. He became famous for this personification of a “golf ball” and audiences loved the epical “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.” He loved the Lord and used his gift of teaching to inspire many to love the Lord as well. He made an impact on the people at the churches he attended, from Riverdale Baptist to McLean Bible and most recently at Ocean City Baptist.
Ennis was devoted to his family and friends. His love of life set the tone for family gatherings: football, all-night Mexican Train marathons and charades were more fun with him. His charisma, creativity and skill made him a national treasure, but he was treasured most at home.
Ennis was preceded in death by his father, the Rev. William Thomas Ennis, and Nitty. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Glenda Rae (Snyder) Ennis; his son, William Thomas Ennis III and his wife, Natalie, of Catonsville, Md.; his daughter, Bonni Jo Brennan and her husband, Tim, of Mechanicsburg, Pa.; three grandchildren, William Riley Brennan, Reid Eleanor Brennan and William “Liam” Thomas Ennis IV; his mother, Jo Waits Ennis; his brothers, JohnMark of Washington, D.C., and David of Middletown, Md.; as well as 12 nieces and nephews.
The family suggests that in appreciation of Beebe Medical Center, donations be made to either Dr. Beebe or Dr. Peri of Beebe Medical Center.