Bill Perreault was born William Joseph Perreault in 1931 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up there in Minneapolis and spent a few years enrolled at the University of Minnesota before joining the U.S. Navy in 1952. Bill served on the USS Timmerman. During most of his tour, the ship was in port in Massachusetts. It was there that he met his wife, Catherine. They had five children together and eventually moved to Texas.
Bill was enlisted in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1955. He graduated from naval Fire Control, Class A school where he learned about the equipment he later dealt with. He was then assigned to the USS Timmerman. Bill was very likeable and during his first year aboard ship he was voted Man of the Year by his fellow shipmates. An award he was very proud of.
Bill’s ship was steam driven and an experimental destroyer. Just prior to Bill boarding the ship for his tour, a substantial electrical malfunction blew out a tremendous amount of equipment. The ship stayed in port being repaired most of Bill’s tour. Being steam driven meant that steam pipe “went everywhere” throughout the ship. Bill testified that wherever “steam went, asbestos went.” This was to prevent the heat from escaping and it protected against burning. Asbestos also covered the equipment used to control the flow of steam through the ship. Unfortunately, Bill did not wear any type of mask or protection during the repairs.
Bill and his wife, Catherine, met in Boston, Massachusetts. He first saw her on the dance floor. They were married for 40 wonderful years. They had five children and later moved to Dallas/Ft. Worth in Texas. Unfortunately, in 1994 Catherine was diagnoses with colon cancer. A few years later in 1997, one of their sons was the victim of a deadly car accident. Shortly after that, Catherine’s cancer metastasized to her brain – she died in 1999.
Bill kept active, though. He participated in the church choir and was a member of the men’s quartet. He had been a choral singer for 20 years. He also enjoyed being outside gardening, watching things grow as well as walking and hiking. However, tragedy was about to strike again. Bill visited his doctor in November 2002 for shortness of breath. After much testing, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma the following spring. This was yet another blow to the Perreault family. Bill had no significant medical history prior to his diagnosis and no history of cancer in his family bloodline.
Bill’s doctor first diagnosed him as having a sinus infection and bronchitis and treated the symptoms accordingly. This only partially helped and Bill found himself back at the doctor’s office in February 2003 with the same complaint. This time the doctor took chest x-rays and removed fluid from the right side of his chest – twice. Later, a biopsy of his lung was taken. More fluid was removed and a pleurodesis was preformed to prevent further fluid build up.
Bill did not find out about “the total effects of asbestos until the 1970’s.” He never saw warnings on any of the asbestos-containing products used in the U.S. Navy and would have tried to take measures to avoid them had he seen such warnings. With the help of Waters Kraus & Paul, Bill filed suit in May 2003 and a trial date was soon set. Fortunately, all of the defendants completely settled before trial could be reached. Although sadly, Bill lost his battle with mesothelioma in March 2004 at the age of 72. He left behind his four adult children and 10 grandchildren.