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William W. Dyet, played pedal steel guitar in country bands

Updated: March 11, 2010, 7:09 am /
Published: March 11, 2010, 12:30 am

Feb. 12, 1931—March 9, 2010

William W. Dyet, of Grand Island, one of the area’s leading pedal steel guitar players and a mainstay in country music bands for more than 50 years, died Tuesday in the Center for Hospice&Palliative Care, Cheektowaga, after a lengthy illness. He was 79.

Born in Hamilton, Ont., he spent part of his boyhood in Scotland and took classes in steel guitar playing after he returned to Canada.

Known to all as Bill, he came to the United States when he was 18 to join one of the stars of the WWVA Jamboree—Smokey Pleacher—in Wheeling,

W. Va., and on tour. He also played with another WWVA Jamboree headline group, Doc Williams and the Border Riders.

Based in Buffalo when he wasn’t touring, he performed as a singing cowboy on radio stations and at clubs and rodeos. He met his wife of 58 years, the former Beverly Risewick, when he was performing at the former Flying E Ranch in Lockport.

Through the years, he played with many leading local country artists, including Ramblin’ Lou, Happy Mann and the Country Squires, Barb Murray and the Teddy Bears, and Craig Wilkins and the Western New Yorkers, with whom he played his final performance last fall. He also accompanied visiting country stars such as Little Jimmy Dickens and played with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

“Music was his life,” his son William F. said. “He could play anything. If he heard a song one time, he could sit and play it.”

Mr. Dyet, a Grand Island resident since the late 1950s, also worked as a technician for many years at American Optical Co., repairing optometric equipment. He retired in the early 1990s.

In addition to his wife and son, survivors include two other sons, Richard and Terry, and two brothers, Bruce and James.

Services will be at 8:30 p. m. today in Kaiser Funeral Home, 1950 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island.