His mother's words still influence his actions

William Bulla

William Bulla

April 29, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

When Bill Bulla was a little boy growing up in Oklahoma during the Depression, neighbors helped his family when the need was there.

"My mother said to me that it's nice to have people care about you," Bulla said. "I think that's why I've been involved in my community wherever I have lived."

Bulla, 83, can look back on a professional career that began after his service in World War II and included stints as a commercial artist, advertising executive, and in public relations and shopping center promotion.

When he retired in 1989, Bulla managed and did the marketing for several Shopco malls, including Valley Mall in Hagerstown and Frederick Towne Mall.


Even though he was busy with his corporate responsibilities, Bulla said he never forgot his mother's teachings.

The Toys for Happiness campaign he started at one shopping center brought in more than $200,000 a year in toys.

About 10 years ago, he and his wife, Barbara, who is now deceased, started the Coats for Kids program at Valley Mall, Bulla said. That program is now conducted by the North Hagerstown Lions Club and brings in more than $30,000 worth of warm clothes for youngsters in need.

Instead of retiring completely, Bulla consulted for several years in the early 1990s and then went back to work as director of public relations for the Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council.

"In 1999, I left the Girl Scouts to work as director of marketing and public relations for the United Way of Washington County," Bulla said.

He retired yet again in 2004 and has been working steadily at his watercolors. But that doesn't mean Bulla isn't still active behind the scenes for a number of agencies, including Habitat for Humanity. A recent newsletter for the agency included several stories written by Bulla.

A Lion since 1970, Bulla has perfect attendance for 37 years, during which he received awards and held several posts. He now belongs to the North Hagerstown Lions Club.

A widower since November, Bulla keeps busy with his causes and his painting.

"I belong to several watercolor societies," Bulla said.

His living room contains finished works and works in progress. Bulla often hears from friends who send photos and ask him to do his magic with his watercolors.

"I'm working on this duck for a friend now," he said. When completed, that duck watercolor is destined to be auctioned for a good cause.


Name: William Lawrence "Bill" Bulla

Residence: Hagerstown

Occupation: Retired, painter, volunteer

What was your proudest moment?: "Marriage to my late wife, Barbara, and being with our children."

Whom do you most admire, and why?: Abraham Lincoln. "I've read a lot about him because of my interest in the Civil War."

What is the best piece of advice you ever received and who gave it to you?: Love thy neighbor - advice from Jesus Christ.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve?: "To continue to work with my watercolors."

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