Bill Arthur’s world revolves around giving back.
He’s tended a grill at Bratfest when it was still at Hilldale Shopping Center; published newsletters for the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups and the Wisconsin Intergenerational Network; mentored public school teachers about computers; helped out at ARC of Dane County, an advocacy group for the developmentally disabled; mentors entrepreneurs through SCORE, a national nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground; and he’s been a volunteer photographer for the UW Arboretum for years.
Arthur is also the president of the board of Community Services Center Inc., a collaboration of four local organizations that in 2000 purchased a three-story office building at 517 N. Segoe Road to house a range of nonprofit organizations.
The partners, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin, Junior League of Madison, RSVP of Dane County and West Madison Senior Coalition, are also tenants in the building along with others like the Badger Childhood Cancer Network, Braille Library and Transcribing Services, DANENet, Green Seal, Theater Bus and Working Capital for Community Needs.
Arthur, an Edgewood High School and UW-Madison graduate, retired at age 55 after 27 years with Sycom, a company along the Beltline that sold medical forms and filing systems to dentists until it closed in 1995.
But the Shorewood Hills native, who was born at St. Mary’s Hospital, is hardly inactive. Arthur volunteers almost daily; when he spoke to a State Journal reporter in the cafe at Metcalfe’s Market at Hilldale, he had just come from donating blood.
What was it like retiring at only 55 years old?
It was good because of the opportunities I had. The pay isn’t very good though but the rewards are tremendous. They really are. They’re spectacular. About the last six months that I was employed I really started to think about volunteering because I didn’t know what I was going to do after I quit. I found that there’s really a satisfaction in helping out. I now volunteer with six different nonprofits.
Are you doing more work in retirement than when you were working at Sycom?
Oh yes. It’s virtually full time. When I was working I had Saturdays and Sundays off. Nowadays that’s when I’m out taking pictures (as a volunteer) and doing other volunteer work. There’s just a lot to do.
Tell us about your photography work at the UW Arboretum.
I take pictures of people. I took a course at the University of Wisconsin on nature photography because I thought I wanted to do nature photography. One of the places (our class) went to was the UW Arboretum. I took some pictures there and they told me they had a lot of people taking pictures of the arboretum but what they really needed was someone to take pictures at events.
What is it like to look at this city and see how it has changed over the years in terms of development?
It fascinates me. I knew what the place was like when I was a kid but it’s really fascinating to see all of the changes. I’ve been amazed but I love this place.
If you weren’t volunteering what would you be doing?
I don’t know. Life would be really boring.
— Interview by Barry Adams