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Celebrating 89 years, the Billy Mack way

Musician, 89, keeps alive the historical Ridge Runner band
by: Courtesy photo Bill McAnnany, right, jams with friends and family during his 89th birthday celebration April 20 at the St. Helens Senior Center.

For his 89th birthday, Bill McAnnany celebrated with family, friends and one more trusted companion - his guitar.

McAnnany, known by many as Billy Mack, was honored April 20 at the St. Helens Senior Center.

McAnnany, previously a meat cutter in Rainier and St. Helens, is responsible for keeping alive the Ridge Runner Band, a St. Helens group formed in 1974.

The band's previous leader Bill Ridenour - at the age of 93 - asked McAnnany to take the helm, according to friend and current band member Dean Ebert.

McAnnany became leader of that group in 2010, bringing his son Tim along in the musical adventure. Group members also include Ron Burton and William Ebert.

The band now plays gigs at assisted living and nursing homes in Scappoose and St. Helens, including weekly engagements at the local senior centers.

Along with music and dancing, McAnnany's granddaughter Joy baked a cake with the McAnnany family crest.