Nearly two weeks ago, Will and I had packed our backpacks for two nights in Surabaya for a dentist appointments and a trip to the immigration office and were settling into our bus ride. Then we got one of those phone calls that stops time. I just remember looking at Will’s face, knowing it was bad news, and then he mouthed the words “My dad died.”
The next 48 hours were a blur of logistics, grief, travel, tears, numbness. The Peace Corps spent the next day getting our passports back from immigration, getting our visas extended and booking our tickets home for two weeks of emergency leave. We didn’t even go back to site.
Suddenly all those times we spent daydreaming about what it would be like to finally come back to the United States seemed silly. Here we were. Landing at Bluegrass airport. Stunned. We weren’t thinking about the foods we missed or how nice things would seem. We were just putting one foot in front of the other.
Will’s mom, brother and my parents met us at the airport. My parents gave us some socks and coats and hugged us, and then put us in the car with Will’s family. We spent the next week at Will’s family’s house planning the service, accepting visitors and food, and going through the visitation and then the funeral. About 2,000 people showed up and waited for two and a half hours to pay respects at the visitation. Will bravely spoke at his dad’s funeral, which was a real reflection of Bill.
Currently we’ve been back in Kentucky for about 10 days and we leave on Sunday. We will go back to Indonesia to fulfill the remainder of our commitment which will be about three months. I don’t know how to end this post. I don’t know how life will change now. But I know that everything is going to be a little different as we learn to adjust to a new reality. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us.
Remarks by Will on February 26, 2014.
On behalf of our family, I want to thank everyone who has come out today to remember and celebrate my dad’s life.
And thank you to all of our friends who have been to the house throughout the last week bringing food, answering the phone, greeting visitors, and more importantly, providing comfort, company and humor.
Man, my dad would have sure hated to have all these people come together today just for him.
As many of you know, my dad came from modest beginnings. He would often tell Cole and I about his life growing up in and around Hungry Holler and would drive us by where he had lived with his parents. I think this was to remind us of our family’s roots and to keep us grounded.
His goal was always to give us a better life than he had had, and he did that by giving us opportunities that he couldn’t have fathomed growing up. The lives that Cole and I have lived so far wouldn’t have been possible without what dad did for us.
The two things that my dad valued more than anything, and the lessons that he passed on to us, were the values of relationships and community.
My dad prized his friendships above all else. And friendship was a loose word to him, as it was rare that he ever met a stranger. Looking around the room, I see so many people that I know relied on my dad for his friendship.
But this extends beyond the borders of Winchester. I know that there are some people here today who served in the Air Force with my dad in the 70’s, who he stayed in touch with and talked about enough for me to believe they were actually our family members.
Looking through his Facebook page recently, I discovered that on a nearly weekly basis he was contributing to groups devoted to Plattsburgh, New York and the Air Force base. He was always asking about his friends from that time, what was their latest news, and where were they living now.
He loved to tell us about people who had come through the liquor store who had left town a number of years ago and were back in town visiting.
He and my mom were married for 36 years, falling more in love each year and serving as a perfect complement to one another.
He just loved people and friendships.
So, its no surprise that he found importance in community. To him, supporting and fostering community in Winchester wasn’t a choice, or an option, it was just who he was. He coached little league baseball and football, he served on boards in town, and he contributed to a number of organizations.
Not long ago, he was telling me about the new “What’s your ambition?” campaign in Winchester, and he was talking about how excited he was about it.
To him, community organizations like STRIDE, Shop With A Cop, the YMCA, Youth sports, and so many others weren’t “nice-to-haves”, they were “need-to-haves”. Supporting these programs created a better community and he did it daily without a second thought.
As you know, my dad owned Bypass Liquors. From the outside, it looks just like any number of small businesses that line the Bypass. But stepping inside, you realized you were entering a carefully constructed ecosystem of community that my dad loved being a part of everyday.
Everyday, politics and town gossip were the topics of conversation. Somedays this could resemble a pre-Revolutionary French Salon, others, probably mostly others, it could resemble the bar in the movie Roadhouse.
The store served as an audition ground for office holders and candidates, a place to test the barometer of politics in Central Kentucky. When I worked in Congress, I would often pass along the news from the store to the Congressman and his staff as we worked to serve central Kentucky. I can’t imagine anything that would have made dad happier.
These values of friendship and community made my dad the most generous person I know. Last night as we had so many people come through the visitation, the comment we heard repeated over and over was about dad’s generosity.
His generosity went beyond donating his time and money to organizations in town. I can’t tell you how many people have told me this week about dad helping them when they were most in need. I saw him pay off numerous tabs for strangers at South Main grocery. He served as a second dad to so many of our friends.
Generous doesn’t even begin to describe the size of his heart. The fabric of small towns and small town life is strengthened by people like my dad.
William Thomas Glasscock, Billy, Glassy, Glass, Big Pun, dad, or just Bill. Whatever you called him, you could call him your friend and a friend to this community.
Thank you for joining us today to celebrate his life.