September 2020 Newsletter

The latest in our series…

The People of the Park:

Sheila & Bill Bishop

By Dale Dauten

Today’s profile includes an accordion, a Vegas wedding chapel and a team mascot that’s a pretzel. Really. These and more came up when we got to visit with Bill and Sheila Bishop.

Both are from Illinois. Bill grew up in Springfield, an only child. His dad worked in a local manufacturing plant and his mom worked for Pepsi Cola. He went to a nearby Catholic High School, all boys. “There was the females’ school down the street,” Bill explained, “where the teachers were mostly nuns, while the majority of our teachers were priests.” Asked what he remembered about those days, he said, “You learned discipline. The priests taught you that there were certain ways certain things got done.” And asked about his interests back then, the accordion came up. While Bill downplayed his abilities, Sheila jumped in to say, “He won awards for his playing.” Does this mean you might catch some accordion music while strolling past their RV? No. Bill told us, “I gave it up. I have a short attention span. I was interested and then I wasn’t.”

Meanwhile, over in Loami, Illinois, Sheila was also growing up as an only child. Her father had a tire business, was the postmaster, and was one of the founders of a volunteer fire department. (That’s him inside the truck in the photo below.)

Sheila ended up going to New Berlin High, where she devoted herself to sports, playing volleyball and running track. That’s when she added, “I was a Pretzel.”

Yes, the New Berlin High team is known as The Pretzels and their mascot is Mr. Salty. And they aren’t shy about it: the basketball gym is the Pretzel Dome and the school’s website is

We have to stop there and dig into the origins of the pretzel as a mascot. No one is exactly sure, but it seems that back in the 1920s, the school’s basketball team was at a tournament and the players were clowning around after eating lunch, throwing pretzels at one another. The tourney’s announcer later referred to the team as “the pretzel throwers” and for some reason that stuck, eventually getting shortened to the Pretzels.

After school, Bill went to work for a bank and then for the State of Illinois, working in their Central Computer Facility. That was a time when computers were, as Bill put it, “as big as a house.” While he ended up spending his career working for the computer facility, the highlight wasn’t mere technology — it’s where he met Sheila.

She landed a job with the State’s computer department and here’s what they had to say about being brought together:

Sheila: “I got assigned to Bill’s department. He was my boss.”

Bill: “And now I work for her.”

They first became work pals, then more, getting married in 1986 at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas.

If you’re keeping score, there we have it – an accordion, a Pretzel mascot and a Vegas wedding chapel. Nice. But their story continues…

Bill and Sheila both worked for the State until retirement. Along the way, they got into camping. Or, rather, Sheila got Bill into camping. She grew up taking family outings while Bill thought of himself as a city boy. But, by the 1980s, her family had gotten an RV and invited the couple to join them on a visit to Cloud 9 Ranch, 6000 acres in Southern Missouri. Sheila remembers telling Bill, “Three days and you’ll want to go running back to the city.” But no, Bill was all in: “We enjoyed it and kept on doing it.” They got their first RV back then and they’re now up to their tenth. (That’s their 45-foot Tiffin Allegro Bus in the photo below, along with a picture of their traveling companion, Mickey.)

This will be the Bishop’s ninth season at Silveridge. They discovered the park not long after Bill retired, which was a year-and-a-half before Sheila retired. A friend was heading out to Silveridge and Sheila told her husband, “Why don’t you take the RV and go see if you like it.” Sheila arranged to fly out for visits over that season and sure enough, they were hooked.

Bill recalled the scene when Sheila finally reached retirement: “Her last hour of work ended at 3:30 and she was on a plane to Arizona by five. Within three days she was helping out in the Business Office.” That’s a role she continues, working in the office during the season. You’ll also spot her volunteering in the kitchen.

As for Bill, you’ll see him heading out to play golf, or in the billiards room or playing poker.

One last thing: When we asked if there was anything else to add, Sheila laughed and said, “You could mention that Bill was once an altar boy – people who know him will think that’s funny.”