I first met Wil outside of Fort Miami Elementary School in Maumee in March of 2002, as he wheeled his books and artwork into the gymnasium for a visit with parents and children. I was struck by his huge smile, warm handshake, and amusing straw hat. This visit was the beginning of a special tribute to honor our daughter Claire, and a friendship that blossomed as a result of his participation in Claire’s Day for the last nine years. Children and families attending the annual book festival clamored to have time with Wil, to hear his stories, to witness his magical drawing demonstrations, and to have him personally sign one of his lovely illustrated books. We were honored by his participation in our event, and he is and will be missed. It is our intent to pay tribute to his support in a unique fashion at the tenth annual Claire’s Day on May 21 at the Maumee Library. My heart is aching, saddened by the awareness that I won’t be able to join Wil for one more cup of coffee at Georgette’s, won’t ever again hear his voice over the phone, sharing his stories, or encouraging words. Wil was not only a talented artist, illustrator, sculptor and storyteller, he was a wonderful man and friend. His spirit will live on through his legacy of art, storytelling and kind soul. Our prayers and condolences are offered to his beloved family and friends.
Julie K. Rubini, on behalf of the Claire’s Day Inc. organization