My first recollection of Bill was sharing a bedroom with him when I was very young. He was eight years older than me and I always idolized him. When I was a young boy he taught me to play baseball. I remember a day when he took me to one of his sandlot games.. he and his friends included me.. I remember hitting a ball and running the bases. I always felt like Bill wanted me in his life.
Bill was a huge National League baseball fan. He was upset when the Dodgers and the Giants left town in 1957 but got happy when the Mets came to town in 1962.. and even happier when the Jets landed in NYC a few years later. Though he hated the Bronx Bombers he brought me to my first New York Yankees game where I we sat close to my childhood hero, Mickey Mantle, in centerfield. Bill also brought me to Mets games as well. Being with him made me feel special.
I asked my older sister what she thought of when she thought about Bill. She said the phrase "He did it his way" came to mind. I so agree. Bill was a New York original and seemed to have found a way to stay true to who he was all of his life. Sometimes it got him in trouble but, more often than not, people respected his genuineness and authenticity.
He so loved his family. He was devastated when his wife Fran passed away two years ago after forty plus years of marriage. His grown sons and daughter are great people with great families. I could see a bit of Bill and Fran in their eyes and the eyes of their children last week when I was with them in New Jersey. The love they all shared for their father and for each other was so obvious and so precious. It was a meaningful moment for me to share with them.
Lastly I will remember how much my big brother was like our dad. Unlike me he was good with cars - he got that from dad. But like me he had a love for our families. The last time I talked with Bill I came away with a sense of how much my brother loved me. In closing I simply ask you to pray for Bill's family out east.. and his kid brother in Kansas City.