I went to Safeway on Friday and said hello to employees who had bonded with my late friend, Hollis Williams. I was told there was a photograph of H in the office, behind customer service. I did not know this. I was moved. There stood three of us, like family, sharing fond memories.
When I checked out my groceries, Nancy recounted H buying jerky sticks that he titled ‘Steak on a Stick’.
Yesterday I talked to Aura at Safeway Headquarters in California about establishing a non-profit charity around my late friend, William Lee Hollis, who passed away in his sleep on March 8, 2012. She asked me to send her an e-mail. I did so after founding a Hollis Lee William Community on Facebook. After serving his country in the military, I did not want this unfamilied and homeless Vet declared an indigent and buried at the expense of the United States Government – even though he had just gotten on SSI, and a home through HUD-VASH. Hollis had a large extended family that loved him, and took care of him in so many ways.
After getting an American flag to take to the Portland National Cemetery, I passed it to the person who spoke after me, they in turn passing it to the next community family member who spoke eloquently of their love for a man who had no home, but, owned good cheer for everyone he encountered. Hollis was on point, he relieving much of the fear many owned during these hard times, that they too would be out in the street.
Hollis Williams was a very engaging human being who loved his country and his southern tradition. He kept telling me I looked like General Lee. On Christiman Eve he asked me if her could spend the night at my house, even though he had just got a new place to dwell. Hollis saw me as his kindred. No family member stepped forth to handle the funeral, and were not found until after the memorial. Hollis’two sisters had not spoken to their half-brother in nearly forty years, they last seeing him when they were six years old. Two days ago we found Elizabeth and Rossetta on Facebook.
On March 20th. my friend and kindred, Michael Dundon, flew in from Hawaii where he lived off and on as a Homeless Vet. He was extremely worried about this move, afraid that he would end up homeless. I had him stay at Hollis’ place till the end of the month. Michael was a great help in cleaning up the apartment and helping me move Hollis’ things, that became his things when my kindred moved into his new home April 7th. It was this passing of the hat that I proposed to Mayor Kitty Piercy and Congressman, Peter DeFazio on March, and spoke of at the memorial. After being helped, Michael will extend a hand to his brother, and so on, and so on.
While moving in my kindred, we talked about the road trip he made with my sister, Christine Rosamond Benton, and my niece, Shannon. They bought a a 1954 Mercury woody station wagon, and left Los Angeles for Rhode Island in 1970. I left a couple of weeks later, and crossed this country on the train. All four of us were homeless.
When I pulled into the parking lot with Michael’s belonging in the back of my 1972 Ford truck, I declared our long road trip, at an end.
An hour earlier, Michael told me the secret of Rosamond’s success that two authors and two movie scripts failed to discover. All they had to do – was ask! If we had not been discussing the many lessons Hollis left behind for those he loved, to find, we would never have arrived at – the truth!
On April 7th. Erica Ware contributed $3.00 dollars to the HLW fund. She is a co-owner of Second Thoughts, a second-hand store in Springfield that was our favorite. The longest journey begins with one small step. God loves a good road-trip story! Hollis is at home with the Lord.
John Gregory Presco
President: Royal Rosamond Press
I talked to you earlier about my friend, Hollis Williams.
If Safeway gave the option to donate redeemed can slips to homeless vets, I think many will say “Yes”
Monies could be used to hire homeless vets to work in community gardens and grow porduce for kitchens for the hungry. Vets could be hired, or, volenteer during peek hours to recieve cans and feed them into recycle machines they would know how to maintain. This would help Safeway employees. Vets could wear name tags in form of flag. Customers will love the opportunity to help those who served.
Monies could be used to pay for funerals of unfamilied vets. I tried to do this for Hollis with my trust monies, but, was given the wrong information. I did not want him declared an indigent and thrown away. I adopted Hollis through the Elks Association.
Dear Kitty Piercy
My dear friend Hollis passed away on March 8th. He was a homeless Veteran for many years and had been placed in an apartment two months ago by HUD-VASH. He also received funds from The Vet-Vincent De Paul program. Because Hollis has no next of kin, I adopted him through the Elks Society, and am paying for his cremation with monies from a Special Needs Trust. I am on SSI. Mr. Williams is now my son. I did not want him to be treated like a unfamilied pauper – after he is dead!
The people at HUD-VASH have been very helpful, however, they have no funding in order to make sure Veterans like Hollis – have not served in vain! At Hollis’ memorial, I will present the idea that if we collect $1,005 dollars, then Hollis himself can pay for the burial cost of the next Homeless Vet who dies unfamilied. This is the passing of a baton amongst a Band of Brothers. Here is a hand from heaven lifting up the next Homeless Veteran who passes on.
I am not a Veteran. I was drafted in 1966, but because of grave emotional problems I was classified 4F.
I have always respected those who served, and have considered them my brothers.
The memorial will be at the Campbells Senior Center 155 High St. at 1:30 Sunday the 17th.
717 Oakdale #216
Springfield, Or. 97477
I recieved a letter from the Rice Trust saying I will get a check for $13,746.23 within 15 days if everyone signs. I got a call from Maria Cortez at HUD-VASH and we are trying to locate funds to bury my dear friend who died last Friday. I am Hollis William’s foster-father and will recieve a document shortly. He is a Vetran, and I do not want my Foster-son to be buried as a pauper. How much money is left in my trust? The cost of the burial is $1,005 dollars. I want to have enough to keep open my Trust with you until check arrives.