A Memorial Project in Progress


Mooney, Billy Ray
Bill, 74 of Phoenix passed away Jan 22, 2014.  Bill was a
very generous and caring person.  Memorial service will be
at a later date.  Bill is survived by a brother Martin, two
sisters Helen Price and LaRue Hite, a longtime
friend/neighbor Nona DiDomenico and a host of friends.Published in The Arizona Republic on Jan. 29, 2014.
Plese see the Guest Book for Billy Ray Mooney.


From e-mails shared by club members :
As some of you know Bill was my neighbor in Coronado.  Walking to work one morning I peeked down an alley and noticed a few big bonsai on a shelf.  I had recently bought myself some plants and a couple pots from Baker [Nursery], rekindling a teen age hobby.  I was so thrilled to happen across a yard full of trees that I went home and donned a nicer shirt to pay a visit.  Bill was so welcoming and equally thrilled to have a stranger come calling on one of his long time passions.  We spent time over the next months having somewhat regular visits.  He was such a soft spoken man, but had a sly humor underneath.  Bill was very kind to my twin daughters, and let them ride around his yard on his chair.  I will miss visiting with him, hearing stories about the club and bonsai, and Depression era glass, which he said was quite depressing.  Bill helped me with some good basics in bonsai, and I will forever be grateful.  He gave me several things, including a small olive (which I killed), some pots and a pair of knuckle cutters.  Bill was my reintroduction into bonsai and where I first heard of the club.  I haven’t been able to make many meetings due to my scheduling, I am going to try and change that.
— Robert A. Goldstein, February 02, 2014One of my favorite ‘Bill sayings’ was when I asked his advice on one of my trees that wasn’t quite up to his high standards, he would quip “Save the pot” with a twinkle in his eye.
— Tom Gatz, February 02, 2014Chuck and I were fortunate when we first joined the club to sit next to Bill Mooney by chance.  Bill and Nona extended a warm welcome to us that night and encouraged our interest in Bonsai.  Several meetings later, Bill very kindly brought us a shallow rectangular pot from his collection for a small forest since we had expressed an interest in that direction.  When we returned with the little trees in place, Bill gently corrected our mistakes and furthered our interest in trying again.  Later that same year, he sat with me during the Ben Oki workshop to calm my nerves before my tree was tackled by the Sensei.  One thing I knew for sure – he clearly loved the art of Bonsai!
Thanks for the history and back story on Bill.  We enjoyed reading it and thought it was a pleasant way for us all to say goodbye.  His kind spirit and boyish charm will be missed and we too add our condolences to family and friends.
— Janine Journey, January 27, 2014Hello everyone,
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Mooney.  Bill served the Phoenix Bonsai Society as President from 1985 – 1987.  A chapter by Robert Baran in Designing Dwarfs in the Desert (1997, pg. 54) details his move to Phoenix along with his sister Nona:
       “Bill Mooney and Nona DiDomenico grew up in Texas, her mother essentially
raising Bill as her own son.  Nona married an Air Force man and, when the Amarillo Base was
closed, they looked around for a new location.  An aunt was living south of Phoenix in
Coolidge, so a transfer to this area, among other sites, was applied for.  The transfer to Phoenix
was approved.  Nona and her husband were soon in town.  Meanwhile, Bill had ended up in
Reno, Nevada, and on one visit to Nona, he left during a snowstorm and arrived in the warm
sunshine.  He didn’t have to think twice about packing and relocating here.
“Now shortly after this Bill and Nona went to Asahi Nursery on West Glendale Avenue
where he bought a five-tree Lysiloma (desert fern) forest.  The plants died one-by-one and Bill
threw the remaining ‘large ashtray’ away.
“Bill had been in another [non-garden] club for a year, but had never been voluntarily
greeted by any of the other members there.  Nona’s mom told him about the Phoenix Bonsai
Society.  He went to one of the meetings with Nona, expecting to leave quietly after half an
hour of dullness, to then go to a Marie Callender’s restaurant for a snack.  Almost twenty years
later they still both come to meetings, but Bill will tell you that he has managed to get to Marie
Callender’s a few times also.
“For that first year, as it happened, Bill sat across from Leroy [Fujii] and Nona sat across from
Rex [Tsutsumida] at meetings.  The newcomers constantly asked question of these teachers and brought a
new tree to be worked on every week.  The other members at the time apparently did not seek
out such instruction, coming more to socialize, so Bill and Nona felt a bit protective when the
following year other club members wanted to partake in detailed education.  Rex was more
hands-on in his approach, while Leroy preferred that the student do and thus get the feel of the
actual trimming.”
Michael and I have fond thoughts of Bill at this time.  It was thru Bill’s gentle but insistent encouragement over two years that Michael bring a tree to display at a show, that helped to “break the ice” for Michael and alleviate his uncertainty about displaying his work.  Bill further offered a beautiful bonsai pot to Michael for this same tree, as he thought it would show the tree better.  [Michael, himself, would go on to be club president from 2003 to 2005.]  Bill was a close friend of our club Sensei Leroy Fujii, and often quoted technique, sayings, and stories about their time together.  Bill had an old southern way about him, in which he would call you ‘child.’  I loved one story he told about his time on one of the club’s bus trips to California, a trip which was met with a lot of rain.  “One nursery we went to were so kind as to provide umbrellas for all of us, which was great until we all got back on the bus and could not figure out why our heads were dry, but our tushies were all wet.  Child, we didn’t even notice when we were bent over looking at nursery containers that it was raining!”  Bill not only loved little trees, he had an affinity for animals, food and was an ardent old movie fan.  His bonsai collection of larger trees became too much for him to handle, and thus there are several members who now own one of his larger trees.  I am sure that Bill will be looking over my shoulder as I trim the big elm soon.
I would like to encourage other members of the club to share a snippet about their time with Bill, and his contributions to the Phoenix Bonsai Society.  We would like to extend our deepest condolences to family and friends at this time.
— Ardie Apostolos, January 27, 2014To all,
For those of you who were not present at this past Tuesday’s meeting, we are all saddened by the great loss of one of our dearest and soft spoken members.  Bill Money passed away this past Tuesday evening.  Please share with me our very warm and sincere condolences to his family.  He will be missed.
— Frank Harris, President of the Phoenix Bonsai Society, January 26, 2014