People behind The Nugget... Bill Bartlett


Last updated 6/8/2021 at Noon

Bill Bartlett’s curiosity fuels his passion for international travel, backcountry exploration, and for writing about and photographing the life of Sisters Country. photo provided

What’s with the stone blocks along Highway 20 by the Sisters Mobile Home Park? Where does the hay that leaves Sisters farms end up? What brings a new business to Sisters?

Lots of folks ask themselves such questions — but Bill Bartlett isn’t satisfied till he gets answers. That’s a quality that makes him a perfect fit for a community newspaper.

“I’m curious to a fault,” Bartlett says.

Bartlett is putting his curiosity — and his chops as a photographer and a writer — to work as a freelance contributor to The Nugget.

“Bill is a tremendous asset,” said Editor-in-Chief Jim Cornelius. “His background and interests give him a fresh perspective and insight into the activities of Sisters Country. He made a significant contribution to the Sisters Oregon Guide this year, and I look forward to his work each week for the newspaper.”

Bartlett’s writing and photography work grew out of business enterprises.

“I spent my 20s and 30s in advertising in St. Louis, Chicago and New York working on the promotion side for major national brands,” he said. “I ran campus and spring break programs for Anheuser-Busch and Reynolds Tobacco, among others. (I) created the Budweiser Comedy Club, co-produced the first Billboard Music Awards and am credited with shopping cart advertising. I took the Gilley’s (Texas) mechanical bull national as part of a long neck campaign for Budweiser.”

He was a success — but an epiphany shifted his course.

“One day I woke up and realized that while legal, I was basically in the business of conspicuous consumption to young — very young adults— of harmful products,” he recalled. “So I quit and bought a printing company. That branched into desktop publishing predating Kinkos, and office supplies. Over the next 35 years I was a serial entrepreneur starting and/or buying and selling a variety of small businesses: women’s equestrian apparel, collectible toys, animal flooring, grooming tools, sports and music memorabilia. Some succeeded, some failed… All of my endeavors, successful or not, were immeasurably personally satisfying.”

The fire of curiosity fueled Bartlett’s move into international travel.

“I can read about something, but I’d rather see it with my own eyes,” he said. “In theory, I retired early in 2005, but as I had travelled internationally for years for business I found myself with this little travel agency — Cascade Travel & Photo that is a boutique, concierge level travel shop operated from home.”

Bartlett’s photographs were his entre into freelancing for The Nugget. He submitted several news and feature photos, then confessed to the editor that his true passion lies in writing.

Writing clear, compelling business proposals honed his skills, and set him apart from competitors.

“Writing served me well in the business world,” he said. “Writing has been a cornerstone of my success in business,” Also, I just derive great pleasure from it.”

“It wasn’t exactly bad news that Bill Bartlett the photographer wanted to become Bill Bartlett the columnist and reporter,” Cornelius said. “Having a high level of competence in both writing and photography isn’t as common as you might think. It’s great for a freelancer to be comfortable, capable — and enthusiastic — across the board with both. And then Bill combines it with that relentless curiosity about all things, great and small. That’s a combination that’s hard to beat.”

Bill and his wife Anne are active in the community, having moved here just three years ago from Ashland. Anne, is a retired Episcopal priest. Bill serves as President of Rotary Club of Sisters and is a therapy dog handler volunteer at St. Charles. Anne is a mentor for Circle of Friends. The couple has four children and eight grandchildren.

While Bartlett comes across as an extrovert — ready and willing to talk to anyone about anything, especially in pursuit of a story — he notes that “there’s a contemplative side to me.”

He feeds that side with solo treks into the Sisters backcountry.

“I go out every day, seven days a week, with the dog,” he said.

He enjoys exploring on foot or on his bike, and during the winter he skis and snowshoes.


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