Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Good Guy

The picture shows some of Joyce's family a couple of years ago. From left to right you can see Wilbur Welsh (brother-in-law), Jim Lakin (Joyce's brother), Jim's wife Sandra, my wife Joyce, and Willie's wife, Joan, one of my wife's sisters.

Willie passed away last week after a horrible bout with cancer. I thought to myself, why is it that good guys sometimes suffer the worst. Of course, Joan went through it right along with Willie and it had to be terrible for her to see Willie suffer and have his life slowly ebb away. Unless one has been through something like that it is hard for others to really understand the struggle people go through. The Bible talks about 'fighting the good fight' and Willie did just that.

I have a lot of good memories of Willie. Sometimes I remember him working on cars in his back yard. He was a wizard shade-tree mechanic. His real job was at Ford's Mercury Division in the Detroit area. He worked hard, studied hard, and eventually became highly skilled in machine set-up processes. At one time he and Joan came and stayed with us when he thought about changing jobs. Eventually he retired and Willie and Joan settled in a lovely home in north-central Michigan. When we moved to Michigan from Florida we got help from Willie and for that I was extremely grateful. They lived about two hours west of us when we lived in Michigan, and we always enjoyed going to their house.

He and Joan also had a remote bit of land (40 acres) that they called Willieland. He loved it there. It was peaceful - away from the pressures of life and I think the happiest I ever saw him was when he would hike around his land, do target shooting, and just feel a part of nature.

Willie was a very private person. Very quiet spoken. But he had a strong sense of values that I agreed with and I felt at peace with life when I was with him. We talked about his service with Army artillery during the Korean conflict. He had a lot of stories about his army days and would grin when he said his Army specialty was 'polishing big guns.'

Last Friday the family celebrated his life. I would like to think that Willie would have been happy with the way it was done. No big hoorahs. No big speeches. Nothing false - just a recognition that the world had lost a really good guy. I appreciated our daughter Lisa driving up andback from Michigan -- it meant a lot to us to be there. And, yes, Willie will be missed -- a lot. He was a special friend.

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