This is a bit of a difficult story for me. I swear I cannot do this man justice, but, I want to try. This page is about a terrible loss. I learned of this and it just simply broke my heart. It's concerning one of the most gentle souls I have ever known and I just think people need to know this man's story and will want to help him as I do. I met Wendall in June, 1978 when I went to work for my first job; McDonald's on Richmond Road, in Lexington,
Nearly my first day I met Wendall; the man that kept the lobby of the store clean. If ever you have been in this particular McDonald's I am sure you have seen him. Wendall is quiet, reserve, unobtrusive... and even meek. He goes about his work, taking care of the people. The coffee is poured; trash is removed. Wendall keeps this store as clean as any store around. I guarantee if Wendall is on duty, you will have a nice place to have your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Wendall was already roughly 45 when I met him more than 40 years ago. He was my co-worker.
Today he is still there taking care of the people at age 85. I saw him recently when I stopped in for breakfast. I have always looked for him; all these years. When he walked over, It took a split second for me to see something was wrong, but just a split second. It was pretty obvious. He was sullen. He was empty. His eyes nearly tearing up. ￼
WE JUST NEVER KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON IN PEOPLE'S LIVES
"Wendall, how are you?" I asked. With two boys watching the conversation from a nearby table Wendall paused and told me he had lost his wife recently, suddenly. Boom!
He had told me of his wife Della (age 83) many times in causal conversation. They were happily married for more than 68 years (almost unheard of today). Della was his swan; his soul. Wendall is devastated; lost; totally empty now. Nothing is left (but he still has to be strong). Della died just not long ago; late August, 2018. This is fresh. It just happened.
The story gets worse though. It turns out that she and Wendall had run some errands early on of Wendall's few days off and they stopped by the McDonald's Wendall works in for an early meal and the poor, sweet lady went to the rest room, and had a stroke caused from a burst aneurysm while in there. Paramedics were called and they came. They ran her to the closest hospital, and she managed to live only a day or two; but never woke and died in late August. Think about this for a moment.
This is the hardest part of the story to me. Wendall has to keep working right there in the store, walking past this restroom, cleaning it daily. This is what the man does. This memory of what happened in there will never leave him I fear. And, he cannot leave the store. He has no money. He has to keep going... he has to keep strong. He has to keep working. I cannot even imagine the torture.
WENDALL HAS TO BE STRONG FOR HIS BOYS. HE NEEDS OUR HELP.
Even now, the story is going to even take another difficult turn.
Wendall has two grandsons that he and Della adopted years ago; both of who are special needs people. Wendall is a father now in essence. I did not know them, but both of them were sitting right there in the store as Wendall was telling me the story. I saw them there but I had no idea they were related to Wendall.
The oldest; John; is 33 years old. He has Autism. The youngest, Justin; a sweet kid appears to be 12, but in fact is 20 years old. He suffers from what is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This is an illness brought on by being born to an alcoholic mother. ￼John Columbia (33) Justin Gill (20) Wendall Gill (85) and Todd (me) Della and Wendall were to basically parents again. They planned this out. Did all the legal work. They adopted these two boys who are "men" now. And now Wendall is charged with taking care of them on his own.... at 85, having just lost his wife of 68 years.
Wendall has no money. With a small life insurance policy for Della, they scraped together barely enough to bury her. To add insult to injury, I have recently learned that they had plots they were paying for in a cemetery that I guess has been a part of some type of scam. She is buried there but the company that they were paying vanished with the money that was left for a headstone (more on that later).
So I thought I would post the story on Facebook. Well, the comments and the ideas have been amazing. I am running with every good idea you can share with me. You have done so much. I am overwhelmed. LETS BLESS HIM IN A SMALL WAY. I THOUGHT; would it not be nice if we did something to show him (that despite this terrible tragedy;;despite all this heart ache; despite the fear of the unknown) that we love him and we want to serve HIM! I began this goal with one goal... but the support has been so overwhelming that I have decided to ask for some more help.
MY GOALS FOR THE CAMPAIGN
(DONE!!!!!!) ------ FIRST, I would really love to see if we could raise enough money to pay off his van; the vehicle he uses with his boys. He owed $27,200 and I am pleased to say that he paid it off this past week due to YOUR generosity.
(DONE!!!!!!) ------ SECOND, I would like to see if we could raise extra month to get Della a nice headstone. I have been told that one of his biggest woes is the fact tat he is not able to even mark where her grave is. No one knows where she is even buried. I AM SO HAPPY TO REPORT THAT ONE MAN HAS STEPPED FORWARD TO PAY FOR THIS. We have a headstone marker picked out. Will have that ordered this coming week.
(DONE!!!!!)------ THIRD, as I have told before, he has two cars on which he makes payments. He has since made arrangements to turn the more expensive car in to the bank. Della will not need a car to drive. He is still making payments both of them. He owed far more on it than that car is worth. Near as I can calculate, I think he is probably $13,000 upside down in that vehicle. I do not want him to worry about this money. My goal is to raise that money for him with this campaign. I am pleased to report that we have made plans to pick up that car at Park Community Credit Union in Lexington, and pay it off. I would like to add that the people at Park Community Credit Union have been amazing to work with. They even took $2,000 off the balance of the loan to help Wendall. When did you ever hear of a bank doing such a thing. I am so pleased about this. UPDATE: WE PAID OFF THIS VEHICLE YESTERDAY!!!!
(DONE!!!!!)------ FORTH, I would like to pay off Wendall's house. The man owes about $74,000 on his house so I have added that amount to his "wish list". I want to pay if off. He is 85. He needs to retire. He really needs to worry about the boys... and not does he have enough money to live off of in his McDonald's job. I want him to quit worrying and have some time to grieve. He is so sad. And, once he is gone, I want to know that these boys have a place to live. I also want to thank the man from the state that has stepped into to help the boys, to make sure they have all the services they are eligible for.
(DONE!!!!!)------ THE BIG PICTURE IS I WANT HIM TO BE ABLE TO RETIRE I guess really my hope is for Wendall is this. He is 85.
He really needs to retire. Tomorrow is promised for none of us. He really needs to spend time with his boys and just heal... and not worry about where they will get their next meal from. By accomplishing these three goals, we will be taking $1,200 a month off his bills (his two car payments). He only earns about $600 a month at McDonalds. So it is possible that his meager income will allow him to retire. Even if he chooses not to, at least he could. He should not be worrying right now about where is every dollar going to come from.
That is my prayer. He is so hurt. If you drop by McDonald's, and see him there... say hello. Tell him how sorry you are for his loss, and how much you love him and how much you pray for his strength, and peace. GOD BLESS YOU ALL: WE ARE SUCCEEDING IN A HUGE WAY! This is all God; not Todd.... I was just a tool.
YOU people are the ones making this a "God thing" to me. When I began this page, I set a conservative goal of $1,000 for the page. Then the Herald-Leader article came and the community responded in such a big way. I raised the goal to $2,500, then $5,000... and the money kept flowing in. I knew we needed to do more. I just did not dream it was possible. So, I up'd the goal to $27,200 to pay off the van. That was my first big hope. Wow. That was raised fully by Sunday, 10/7. I told the family I am not done. I want to get Wendall out of the other vehicle, and now, we week later we have done that. He is out of both vehicles (by this coming Wednesday), and you generous people have already allowed me to raise maybe another $60K to put towards Wendall's house. What a blessing you are. This poor man and his boys are going to be so blessed I think with another $15K we can pay off his house and he can rest and grieve and take care of the boys. God Bless! you ALL! Todd
WENDALL RETIRED 3 WEEKS AGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I spoke to him just today. It is wierd for him he says. He does not have so much to do. The boys go to day care 3 days a week now, and so during the time they are there (which is when he was working) he does not have his time so tied up. He can pause, slow down, take a breath.
God is good.
MEDIA, ARTICLES, ETC
The story has been picked up by so many publications, television, and radio stations. Included is the Lexington-Herald, the Washington Post, Inside Edition, the Paducah Sun, WVLK, MSN, People Magazine Online, Tops in Lexington, and various news stations around the country. Donations have come in from all over the country including DC, NY, CO, CA, WI, KY (of Course), TN, and other locations.
If you would like to read the story that the Herald-Leader ran on Wendall;
click >>>>> Herald-Leader Article
The Washington Post wrote an article as well. To view it;
click >>>>> The Washington Post Article
The Follow-up Kentucky.com on Wendall is Here;
click >>>>> Kentucky.com Follow-up Article (10/17)
WKYT News at 6PM Report on 10/17 can be viewed;
click >>>>> WKYT News Report
WKYT News Followup Article can be viewed;
click >>>>> Follow-up Article
WLEX News at 6PM Report on 10/17 can be viewed:
click >>>>> WLEX Story
Inside Edition did a nice story that was posted 10/22. This can be viewed;
click >>>>> InsideEdition.com Story
Pictures from the Wendall Gill Appreciation Party can be found on Tops in Lexington.
Click >>>>> Tops In Lexington
Herald-Leader Ran a Follow-up When Wendall Turned in His Notice.
Click >>>>> Most Recent Herald Story
ACCOUNTING FOR FUNDS
$27,200 -- Van - Paid off. DONE
$ 3,500 -- Headstone - DONE OUTSIDE of CAMPAIGN
$13,000 -- Jeep - Paid off. DONE
$74,000 -- House - Paid off. (75% there)
$ 1,000 -- Wendall's Party & Other Necessary Expense
$115,200 Total Needed to Be Raised
DonationsSee top donations
- Heather Shuchter
- Peggy Knudson
- Lloyd Maury
- Sandra Welch
- Nancy Bernacki
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