The sartorial splendor of a multitude of bow ties on the platform at the 221st General Assembly would surely have brought a twinkle to Bill Forbes’ eyes.
For almost 35 years, beginning in 1974, Forbes served as General Assembly platform manager. He was never garbed without his omnipresent bow tie. With his silver-turning-to-white hair, he cut quite a figure at countless General Assemblies.
A native of New Jersey, Forbes worked on the national staff of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) following his graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary, as well as in pastorates in Georgia, Texas and New Jersey. In 2002 he joined the staff of the PC(USA)’s Board of Pensions.
In 2007 Forbes was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In a musing for the General Assembly News in 2008, his last General Assembly, Forbes wrote: “None of us knows how many days we will be granted. As you look into the mirror each and every day, take time to marvel that you have been made in the image of God. Count your blessings often. Share yourself abundantly with those who need encouragement, hope and care. Keep that twinkle in your eye and help the world learn to laugh. May God continue to bless you and keep you as you claim the gift of life each day!”
Forbes died on June 30, 2009, at the age of 62.
And so, at each of the last three Assemblies, those on the platform have worn bow ties for the Friday business sessions as a tribute to one of the all time greats: Bill Forbes.