“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” - Albert Pike
I remember the day I met Will. I was just about to turn 19 years old and being young and just starting off life, I would use the facilities at the New School as often as I could. If you knew me back then, I was either in one of two places. The practice room or on the 3rd floor by the elevators on the computers at 55 west 13th street. I didn’t own my own computer and purchasing one was a far away dream at this point, so there I was.
Will came off the elevator and got on the computer right beside me. I continued to surf the web, was watching a video and of course, I started to laugh out loud. It was then that Will asked what was the video about, I told him and we watched some more together. We continued to chat and as he headed back down stairs to his post(the friendly security guard you had to pass daily) our conversation continued. 4 hours later and the school having to close, so ended our chat.
12+ years later, It seemed our conversation never ended. It would only take pauses so that life could go on living. For the next 3 years of college I found myself hanging out with him and the rest of the security crew often. But that was Will and the crew. They were friends, many i’m sure viewed each other as family. And me? Will always welcomed me with open arms. As he did with everyone he chatted with on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis.
As college continued, the struggles of a bronx born musician didn't get easier just yet. There were days where I had to concentrate on the long term and know that hard work would pay off… But until then it was my friends that helped out. I kept my personal finances generally to myself but Will was no fool. If he noticed I was hungry, he never hesitated to offer some food. If I was in one of those pointless relationships we all seem to go through in the beginning of our adulthood, he was quick to give advice. He would put things in perspective and you always left feeling better not only about you, but about life…
That was Will..
He would give everyone salutations. Whether just a nod of his head or more commonly an embracing hug or firm handshake from this larger then life person. See, Will was over 6 feet tall, a bodybuilder for decades, but was one of the nicest people I had ever met….EVER.
I remember when his son was born, he was so proud. He was always happy to bring him around and introduce him to the world. Every hour long conversation almost always involved his son to an extent. That’s what a proud dad does, that’s what every son wants.
As life continued, and New School became a thing of my past, I would make sure to stay in touch with Will and most of the security crew. It wouldn’t matter if 6 months had past, when we saw each other , the hang was going to happen. I would sometimes have to plan out my semi random appearances to Will, I always knew in the back of my mind, you couldn’t just say hello and keep it moving, Will was different, he would remember the slightest details of your last conversation and take it from there.
The last 5 years our conversations always started the same. How’s music going, your life, your family and if I was going to the gym. He didn’t ask just to be polite. He asked because he actually wanted to know. In a way he was like the older brother to all of us. As all of your read this, I know you know what I mean. The reason why we are sad is not just because he is no longer in this world, but because no new memories will be created. But as the saying goes, “as long as you keep the memories alive, he will forever be immortal”
I can’t even begin to tell you how much things I learned from him. Whether about relationships, confidence, self worth, he knew it all. Advice that I have passed on to many and will continue to do so. He was one of those friends that you could tell the most craziest stories to, because you knew he would get a kick out of it. He never judged, he was just there, whether you needed some time to forget, or just advise about..well anything.
I’ll never forget how happy he was for me when some time had passed and I finally got my health in check. I gotta think it was one of those proud moments for him. He spent years giving me advice about eating, working out, nutrition… to see me finally successful after all these years. Most people would have given up giving advice. Not him…
That was Will
The last couple of years I would be so excited to see him. He was always interested on my progress in health and I was just as eager to talk to him about it. I went to see him a week or so before I ran the NYC Marathon. It was a seemingly relaxed day so he showed me some kung fu clips online. We laughed, we talked and he wished me luck with the race. I said my goodbye and as always felt refreshed as I continued on my night.
I had once asked Will why he never decided to compete in an actual bodybuilding competition. It was obvious he had the look and genetics to make a career out of it. Instead he served in the Military for 8 years, went out to war came back and continued to live a happy life. He could have taken an easier route, but chose not to.
So I asked, why not compete. His response was simple and profound. He told me he would “never want to be part of something that was solely based on “judging” others,” because he would never judge anyone physically or mentally. We are all unique. It’s better that way. I couldn’t agree more…..
That was Will
That Is Will
I write this because it’s the best way of explaining how this human being was. If you knew Will you knew it was always possible to do good. If you knew Will, you knew what a positive aura felt like. If you knew Will, you knew what it was to have a friend no matter how much time passed in between.
Rest in peace my friend. I’ll see you on the other side William Gary