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His colleagues at the Globe remember Will

Page 3 of 7 -- As huge a presence as Will was, he never overlooked the "little guys." Even if he didn't know your name, he always had a "Hiya, kid" or a "Hey, big guy" for the co-op students ("nighthawks") in the department. That was true when I was a copy boy in the late '70s right up until last week.

(I had the privilege, incidentally, of fetching Will a coffee on that infamous day in 1979 after he decked the recalcitrant Ray Clayborn; the sight of Willie banging out a column with a bloodied eyeball is one I'll never forget.)

The point is, he treated the smallest person in the department the same as the largest, and this had humorous consequences one day. With Willie gone for the day, a first-year nighthawk took a phone message from some VIP, and we on the desk told him to call Will at home. The kid reached Will's wife, relayed the message, and when she asked who was calling, he answered, "Uh, just tell him it's 'The Big Guy,' he'll know who it is."

The biggest guy of all had a gift for making you feel that way.
JOHN CARNEY, sports copy editor

When I came to the Globe sports desk in 1988, I felt I had to prove myself, both as a newcomer and a woman. I was given the lowliest job to start, compiling the Sports Log. At the time, Willie was doing a national radio show before "Monday Night Football" broadcasts, and he would call in to get the latest wire reports just before going on air. It was my job to give him the updates. Like a lot of us, I was in awe of him and incredibly nervous, but he treated me like I actually knew what I was talking about, and soon we were chatting about this injury or that contract (which of course, he already knew about). It was the most special no-special treatment I ever got.

A few years later, when a friend of mine who was a big fan had major surgery, I asked Willie to call him in the hospital. He made my friend feel like a million dollars. He did stuff like that all the time - every story you read or hear about his generosity of spirit is true, only more so.
MARCIA DICK, former sports copy editor

As a former Globe sports co-op and current sportswriter, Will taught me the "Right Factor." He said that you should have no fear of reporting a story if you know you're right, and you know you're right because you do your homework. There was nobody who was better to young college students at the Globe, so his legacy will live on for a long time.
MIKE TROCCHI, former sports co-op   Continued...

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