William Sayles

August 22, 1920October 31, 2018

William Sayles, of South Nyack, NY, passed away on October 31, 2018, at his residence. He was 98. He was born on August 22, 1920, in Albany, NY. In 1942 his college career was interrupted when he joined a top-secret camouflage unit of the US Army, (23rd HQ Special Troops). This unit is the subject of the documentary film: “The Ghost Army” by Rick Beyer, and the book “The Ghost Army of WWII” by Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles. After the war he was a commercial illustrator, working for clients such as Ford and Western Publishing, and in 1949 he married Shirley Leah Weinstein of Boston. In the 1970s William and Shirley collaborated on the wildly popular Step-By-Step Craft book series, which gave them the opportunity to travel to China, Japan and Mexico. William spent his later years painting in his studio and was very involved with the Edward Hopper House in Nyack, NY, and the Rockland Center for the Arts. His wife, his brothers Paul Sayles and Seymour Sayles; and sister, Ann Swyer predecease him. He is survived by his children, Michael Sayles, of Brooklyn, NY, and Elizabeth Sayles Dow, of Valley Cottage, NY; his beloved grandchildren, Jessica Dow and Daniel Stein-Sayles; his son-in-law, Matthew Dow and daughter-in-law, Deborah Stein. Graveside Services will be held on Sunday, November 4, 2018, 12:00 PM, at Temple Israel Memorial Park, Van Wyck Road, at Blauvelt Road, Blauvelt, NY. Interment will follow at the family plot. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Hellman Memorial Chapels, 15 State Street, Spring Valley, New York. 845.356.8600 A period of mourning will be observed at the Sayles’ residence: Saturday, November 3, noon to 8pm, and after the burial on Sunday, November 4, until 8pm. The family would appreciate donations be made in William Sayles’ memory to: Ghost Army Legacy Project Meals on Wheels of Rockland .


  • Graveside Service Sunday, November 4, 2018

William Sayles

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Ellen Nodelman

November 1, 2018

I first met Bill Sayles back when I was still in college and working in a summer job at Western Publishing in New York, a job wangled for me by my brother who worked there. Western was the parent company of Little Golden Books, and my brother, Jock, had told me about this great guy, an artist, who split his time between gigs at Golden Books and Mad Magazine, somehow managing to juggle, quite perfectly, the demands of the two, one somewhat cloying, the other quite insane. That guy was, of course, Bill Sayles. I was suitably impressed when I finally got to meet the ‘mad artist’ who was able to pull this off.

I met Bill again after I moved to Rockland County and began teaching at Rockland Country Day School (both Michael and Liz were memorable students of mine!). This time Bill and his wife, Shirley, were parents at the school, but somehow I didn’t quite connect the dots so the subject of our previous acquaintance never really came up.

Then some years later when we moved to South Nyack, my husband, also an artist, started to talk about this guy he had met and liked who was running the life classes at the Hopper House. Once he mentioned his full name, it began to dawn on me that this must be the Bill Sayles I remembered from so long before. Eventually we got together with Bill and Shirley and enjoyed a number of evenings together, then saw Bill from time to time after Shirley died.

Bill was always funny, caustic and good company. Not to mention exceptionally talented. And very modest. He never told my husband, a WWII buff, about the Ghost Army – much to my husband’s later chagrin. He would have loved to have talked to him about that.

We moved from Nyack to Connecticut over 18 years ago and obviously lost touch with Bill. But we will still miss him. It’s good to see his spirit and talent living on through his children. The cover of A Time For Remembering brought him back so strongly.

Ellen (and Len) Nodelman

Lynn Kennedy

November 1, 2018

I had the honor of meeting Mr. Sayles and his family a few years ago at the Ghost Army Art Exhibit in 2015. At the event, I was so moved by his surviving Ghost Army comrades' love and support for him. He glowed being in the midst of those he loved and valued the well deserved appreciation all of us "others" were giving to him and his Army unit. His creativity and works of art were remarkable. He and his wife raised a remarkable daughter and family. And "remarkable" is a word that does not suffice enough praise to laud upon his life, but it is a word I will use in the meantime. We, here on earth, will miss him and his contribution to making the world a better, safer and more creative place. I would like to think of him now reunited with so many of those he loved who had passed before including his Army buddies from the Ghost Army days. He has left a fine legacy.
My love and deepest condolences to his family and friends. Rest in Peace.