According to his parents, Matt and Stephanie, from the time he was a baby, Matthew William Eskeli IV, or Bill, or Billy, as he was more commonly known, always had a quiet, gentle way about him that did not change as he grew into an amazing young man.
Bill was kind, humble, hardworking, smart, and had an amazing, witty sense of humor. He lived each day to the fullest and was well on his way to fulfilling his dreams in life.
“Every day we had with Bill were the best days of our lives,” Stephanie said, “and that all changed on July 2, 2019.”
Early that morning, Bill was tragically killed when the car he was driving was struck by a drunk driver near Springfield, Oh.
Bill, along with two of his friends, were returning to Western New York from Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado Springs, CO where they had spent the past week, along with the rest of the Rochester Institute of Technology EVT (Electric Vehicle Team) racing an electric motorcycle they had designed and built over the past year.
“We were blessed to have him for 20 years and now we are trying to comprehend how we continue our lives without him,” his parents said.
An Exceptional Student
The 2017 Falconer Central School graduate and valedictorian excelled in math and science and put the two together when he began exploring technology. Encouraged by many of his teachers, but one in particular, his high school technology teacher, Steve Bower, Bill was able to work on a variety of projects, applying math and science to real life problem solving. This was something Bill had already been doing for years with his dad.
“As a child, I was my dad’s shadow,” Bill wrote in 2017 for a college scholarship essay. “I loved to follow him around all day and watch him work on cars, tractors and anything else mechanical. This is what sparked my interest in figuring out exactly how things work.”
His parents recall that growing up, Bill loved building with his LEGOS.
As he got older, he would never ask for a specific gift for a birthday or holiday. Instead, he would ask for the parts or components to build whatever it was he was interested in.
“One year, Bill wanted a drone,” Stephanie recalled. “But he didn’t just ask for a drone, he asked for specific pieces so he could build his own.”
When he was a junior in high school, Bill decided to combine his interests and talents by furthering his education at Rochester Institute of Technology and studying mechanical engineering.
His scholastic abilities paired with his strong work ethic, Bill earned several college scholarships. However, he also understood that the cost of higher education was more than his scholarships covered and was determined to contribute toward the cost of his education.
“Bill was a hard worker and he understood the importance of hard earned money,” Stephanie said. “He worked every summer since his junior year of high school.”
As a college freshman, he joined the Electric Vehicle Team, a student run organization that focuses on designing and building electric motorcycles that are raced in events at the professional level.
The next year, he began working in the Machine Shop at RIT, maintaining machines, assisting other students and working on projects for graduate students and research faculty.
A Lasting Legacy
Following Bill’s death, Matt and Stephanie asked that memorial gifts be directed to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to support a scholarship in Bill’s memory.
The Billy Eskeli Scholarship Fund will be presented annually to a graduating Falconer Central School senior, with preference given to students studying mechanical engineering at RIT.
Consideration will also be given to students majoring in STEM related fields at four-year colleges and universities.
“Our entire family has been embraced by the community.” Stephanie said. “We are overwhelmed by their compassion and generosity.”
According to Matt and Stephanie, this award is intended to honor students who, like Bill, are humble, have good character, are well-rounded, participate in extracurricular activities and have proven excellent academic achievement.
“Bill would be so proud to know that he is helping other students with their education,” Stephanie said. “His passing has impacted all of us and we are proud that he will be positively impacting the lives of future Falconer students.”