WILLIAM E. “BILLY” Gunther IV, center, poses for a picture with his fiance, Cathy Mosher (to his immediate right), younger brothers and parents. From left to right are Brian Gunther, Jenna Fredricks (who is Brian’s girlfriend), Max Gunther, Diane Gunther, Bill Gunther III and John Paul Gunther. A scholarship has been established at Eldred Central School to honor Billy Gunther, who passed away in January.
Scholarship Fund To Honor Memory of Eldred's Gunther
By Susan Hallock
ELDRED May 4, 2007 With the spring sports season in full gear and many young local high school athletes competing on the track, a 1999 Eldred Central School graduate is being remembered for his numerous accomplishments as a member of the Yellowjackets’ cross country and outdoor track teams.
A scholarship set up at Eldred High School in memory of William “Billy” Gunther will let his dreams of running track live on and allow the community to remember Billy.
Gunther, who was also a member of the varsity basketball team at ECS, died back on January 8 at Morristown (NJ) Hospital at the age of 25. He was not sick, was in his prime and engaged to the love his life, Cathy Mosher.
Gunther was not supposed to die at such a young age and seemingly had his whole life in front of him. He ran his last day just to keep fit. The day before, Jan. 7, he took the day off from his job at ADP Payroll Service in Florham Park, NJ just to spend time with Mosher.
Billy was one of the youngest people who helped organize the annual Highland Triathlon under the direction of Doug Stern. Billy also helped with numerous other 5K races in the area.
Exactly what happened to the former Eldred track star was a mystery at first. What caused Gunther’s untimely passing went undetected for years and when the reason for his death was learned, it shocked his family and friends.
Gunther was felled by sudden cardiac death, which the family struggled to deal with, because, as far as they knew, he was healthy. But, it turned out that Billy had a heart condition since birth that went undetected until that fateful January day.
Now the entire Gunther family must be tested to see if they have the same cardiac condition.
“If you do not know you have something you can not be tested for it,” said Billy Gunther’s mother, Diane. “If Billy or his father and I knew about the condition, we would have had tests done but now it is too late.”
The Gunthers are moving forward and remembering their son in a very positive way. Billy’s father, William Gunther III, wrote his son’s eulogy with tears, laughter and pain.
“Billy would always say, ‘No worries, it is all good,” William Gunther said. “Billy was known to many as William the Fourth, Little Billy, Will, Silly Billy, Good ‘ol Willy and Willy Boy. We all have our memories of Billy, and his mother Diane and I have been blessed to be his parents and we are proud to say, ‘Yes, that is our son.’
“Billy was always there for his brothers and his family and he brought us so much that now we cherish these memories forever. Billy loved eating, wrestling, photos, shopping with his mom and people. He grew up to be a great man and I am very proud of him.”
Diane Gunther remembers Billy as her shopping partner.
“I love to shop and Billy would be there with me all the time,” she said. “We would go to the mall and window shop and have lunch and just hang out. We were very close and he was not only my son, but my best friend.
“Billy came to the family one day and decided that he was not buying Christmas presents or birthday presents anymore,” Diane added. “Instead he would spend the day with that person and you know what, we all said that was the best gift.
“He would even pay for the whole thing,” Diane said with a laugh.
Billy’s fiancee Cathy still stares down at her engagement ring in disbelief, but she is moving on.
“Billy and I had so many plans and it was great with him,” she said. “I worked at BlockBuster and he loved movies, so we had a hit romance right from the start.
“We did have plans to get married and Billy was paying for it all, he would not let his parents worry about it. But, Diane, being the mom she is, set up a change jar for the wedding and we all would put the change in it and it still is there.
“Billy was my rock and I know I have to move on, but Billy will always be my Billy, my soul mate,” she smiled.
Like his son, William Gunther is a proud man, but has a soft side for his family.
“Billy taught us so much and as we go through things of his life, we learn more and more about him,” William explained. “Billy loved to run, he would run race after race and was named MVP a few times in track and he even held one track record which this year his brother Max broke.
“That is something to beat your own brother’s track record,” William said with a smile. “I have to say that Billy’s brothers Max, J.P. and Brian looked up to him so much. And you know for an older brother, he was always there for them and they were very close. Billy was a great big brother.”
Contributions to the recently created scholarship fund for Billy can be sent to: Billy Gunther Scholarship Fund, c/o Eldred Central School, PO Box 249 Eldred, NY 12732.
The scholarship will be awarded to an ECS senior who displays the same high moral character and extraordinary kindness and love that Billy Gunther gave of himself and others.
A summer camp scholarship has also been set up and donations can be sent to: Billy Gunther Summer Camp Scholarship Fund, c/o Camp Koinonia 165 Lakeview Drive, Highland Lake, NY 12743.
The scholarship will allow a young person the opportunity to attend Camp Koinonia for the summer.