British Columbia

B.C. family mourns 57-year-old 'man of a million projects' who died of COVID-19

From building volcano demos for his teaching wife's high school class to high-tech robots used in surgeries, William 'Bill' Chernoff had a passion for science and technology. And when it came to his projects, the sky was the limit.

Bill Chernoff was an adventure seeker who climbed in the Himalayas and had plans to build his own helicopter

Bill Chernoff and wife of nearly 20 years, Tammie Chernoff of Chilliwack. (Submitted by Tammie Chernoff)

From building earthquake demos for his teaching wife's science class to high-tech robots used by surgeons, William (Bill) Chernoff had a passion for science and technology that was cut short last month by the coronavirus.

And when it came to his projects, the sky was the limit. His next endeavour was to build his own two-seater helicopter, which his wife Tammie says he'd already starting planning. 

"Bill loved to invent different things and there are many contraptions that he created in his machine shop," said his wife of nearly 20 years. "He was a man of a million projects."

The 57-year-old developed what seemed to be a minor cough mid-March. Nothing alarming at first, Tammie said.

But a week later he was in ICU, where he would battle COVID-19 for 15 days.

It looked like his health was improving when he was moved to acute care on April 7. However, he died the next day. 

Zest for adventure 

Whether it was racing cars, snowmobiling or climbing in the Himalayas, Bill was a risk taker who was always up for a thrill. 

Bill Chernoff climbing in the Himalayas in 1989 with friends. (Submitted by Tammie Chernoff)

His pursuit for new adventures propelled him as an entrepreneur. He built his own business, Shooting Star Technology, where he designed, manufactured and marketed instruments for the industrial sector.

Tammie said the two loved travelling the world together. She was just one year away from retirement as a Chilliwack high school science teacher. The couple planned a long list of future destinations, including a trip to Alaska and an African Safari. 

Family man

Tammie says Bill was a highly intelligent man who studied physics at the University of Victoria. Tammie's career as a science teacher made it easy for them to connect when they met at a friend's barbecue in 2001. 

A year after they met, Bill and Tammie got married on Aug. 17, 2002. (Submitted by Tammie Chernoff)

But she says it was his kindness that ultimately made her fall in love. A year later, they were married. 

"He was the love of my life," she said. 

Tammie Chernoff says Bill was a dedicated family man, who was close to his stepsons and loved his nieces and nephews. (Submitted by Tammie Chernoff)

He was "super dad" to Justin and Wade, and there's nothing he wouldn't do for them, said Tammie.

She says he loved his stepsons and enjoyed working with them on countless hands-on projects in his shop throughout the years. He also adored his nieces and nephews.

Tammie Chernoff says Bill made friends easily and was the life of the party. (Submitted by Tammie Chernoff)

Life of the party

Tammie says Bill loved a good prank. He grew up in Chilliwack where he attended Sardis Secondary. A highlight of his grad year was hauling a Volkswagen Beetle onto the school roof.

She says he was also the "life of the party" at home and abroad on their travels, where he always made new friends. 

Bill was predeceased by his father Larry, who Tammie says he greatly missed and spoke of often.

He is survived by his mother Dale, his stepmother Sue, his sister Jackie and his brother Larry.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?