October 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Bill Line, 56
Bill Line, National Parks Service, Washington Blade, gay news

Bill Line, Chief spokesperson for the National Park Service’s National Capital Region was 56. (Photo courtesy of the National Park Service)

Bill Line, chief spokesperson for the National Park Service’s National Capital Region since 2001 and a longtime member of the LGBT Catholic group Dignity Washington, died Oct. 7 in his D.C. apartment. He was 56.

D.C. police have classified the death as a suicide.

Line’s death stunned his co-workers and a wide circle of friends. Some said he told them of his ongoing struggle with depression but assured them he was persevering by immersing himself in the work he loved.

“Bill was a caring, compassionate person who loved the National Park Service and particularly the parks of greater Washington, D.C.,” said Park Service spokesperson David Barna. “His charming presence and selfless dedication will be missed by all.”

Often appearing before TV cameras in a park ranger’s uniform and ranger’s hat, Line became the “face and voice of the national parks in the Washington, D.C. area,” Barna said.

In addition to overall park issues, Line was the main news media contact person for the annual blooming of the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin, the Fourth of July fireworks over the National Mall, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree behind the White House, presidential inaugurations, and Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, according to a Park Service statement.

Prior to joining the National Park Service, Line worked for the National Science Foundation and served as a reporter and producer for several news media outlets, including NBC and Fox News.

Rick Lynch, Dignity Washington’s office manager, said in a statement that Line joined the LGBT Catholic organization in 1984.

“During his early years with Dignity Washington Bill served on our board of directors, and for much of the rest of his time with us, he was a member of our beautiful choir at Sunday Mass,” Lynch said.

Friends said he was born and raised in Wisconsin. Lynch said he was preceded in death in recent years by his mother and father and is survived by two sisters and two brothers.

A funeral service was expected to be held in Wisconsin. Dignity Washington President Daniel Barutta said Dignity will hold a memorial service for Line at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2 at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 1830 Connecticut Ave., N.W.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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