Honoring a Valley icon; friends remember Bill Heywood, wife

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- People came together Saturday to remember Valley radio icon Bill Heywood and his wife, Susan, both of whom were found dead in a Scottsdale hotel room on Jan. 4. The couple apparently had committed suicide.

Family and friends gathered at the Biltmore in Phoenix Saturday to pay their respects.

"Heywood was the kind of guy you looked for and you found," said KTAR's Pat McMahon, a longtime friend. "This happens to be a kind of reunion of 'Melancholy University' because we're all happy to see one another, but the one thing we share here at this event is that we all miss him like crazy."

Heywood, 75, ruled Valley airwaves during his 40-year career. During that time he worked at KOY, KTAR and KFYI. He left the radio world in 2005 to focus on real estate.

Heywood and his wife remained active in the community after he retired from radio, but recent years were not kind to couple.

Not only had they been trying to work through financial difficulties -- they filed for bankruptcy in August 2009 and lost their home to foreclosure two years ago -- but Susan, 70, reportedly had been diagnosed with breast cancer recently. She already had been battling an ongoing heart condition.

In the days after the Heywoods' deaths, friends tried to make sense of everything, saying Heywood never wanted to face life without the woman he called his sunshine.

Charlie Van Dyke, Heywood's boss at KOY, recalled comments Heywood made to him at an Arizona Broadcasters' Hall of Fame event in the fall.

"He said at the time, 'She's my sunshine; she's my joy. If she's not here, I don't want to be here," Van Dyke told 3TV.

Married on Valentine's Day in 1977, Bill and Susan Heywood were together for 35 years. They leave behind an adult daughter, Nicole, who lives in the Valley.

While police discovered a suicide note and two handguns in close proximity to the bodies, the Heywoods' deaths officially are still under investigation.