Memories of Will 

It seems impossible that it has been more than two years since William was with us.  I miss every little thing about him and I miss the completeness I felt whenever he was near me - even when he was not just knowing he was here made me whole.  Like the John Prine song goes ... I remember everything.  And it was wonderful to see all the memories and pictures of Will that everyone shared - I'm grateful to be able to post them here.  I hope everyone continues to share the part of Will that touches you.  

Will Memories

William is the person who I think about everyday. The one thing that I consistently remember is when I used to play soccer. I knew that he always wanted to play and would look up to me about it. He then asked to come watch one of my games and came! He was amazed by the game and had a wonderful time! As he got older, he started to play and joined a team. We would go to the Y field and play and his speediness always beat me. As he started to get older he gained so many skills and would strike down the field. He was one of the most talented, enthusiastic soccer player that I have ever met. Whenever he had his mind set to something, he was always determined to complete his goal. When I have to face challenges on a daily basis, I always Walk like Will and think about how he would complete them. I miss him tons and think about him everyday. I am so grateful and proud that I got to grow up with William. He is someone that everyone should have gotten to know because his spirit just enlightens you. I love him so very much! - Nina

I really liked being co-captain with Will on the Crush soccer team. He was a good leader because he was disciplined and strong and talented. He led the warmups at practices, but he mostly led by his example. Even today, I still think of myself as co-captain along with Will. I miss him. - Christopher 

Sometime in first grade my son Christopher came home from school talking - and talking - about going fishing. We hadn’t done much before but he was suddenly keenly interested in the stories his friend Will was telling him at the bus stop about going fishing with his family. I fished as a kid but not as an adult, but within a year I had valid fishing licenses for three states, two countries, and a closet full of fishing gear. We still think of Will every time we go fishing.  - Josh 

 Just a quick memory, that is different from the usual ways I think of William as an outdoorsman and sports guy. I remember one of the first times Will was over inside our house. He and Christopher and some other kids were playing in our basement. William methodically took out different games/toys from the shelf one at a time, opened them, played with them (with others or not as the situation allowed) and carefully picked up any stray pieces and put them neatly back on the shelf. It was such a stark contrast to the other boys' messiness, and the gold star that I used for years after for my own son to be respectful of both his own stuff and others. 

- Leah 

I remember being so impressed with Will being willing to eat anything I cooked and having seconds of things like broccoli!  The boys would often play outside for hours and sometimes Will would have dinner at our house. He was game for any food I made- always willing to try and liked things I wouldn't always expect kids to enjoy- like veggies. Always with a smile- always eager- always up for a new adventure!  We miss you! And Schuyler wanted to ad that playing football at the bus stop every morning with Will was so much fun.  - Mayra

 I am thinking a lot about William today. One of the many favorite memories I have of Will is his love for being near water. It could be swimming, fishing, poking a stick in it, or just watching the bugs on top. I loved the times we went to Flag Pond and how much he enjoyed being there. He could spend hours looking for shark teeth, watching minnows, and swimming in the sometimes sludge filled water. :-) I don't think he ever mentioned being bored there. We are always thinking of you Will and family, and trying to WLW every day that we are on this planet. - Deb

 I love running, but do I really? Does anybody really love it? It’s not fun and dynamic, like a group sport. It’s uncomfortable most of the time, with moments of pain as an unwelcome variable, just to keep it interesting. But it’s good for you and the feeling after a long-ish run is amazing.  As an adult, after some time doing it, I think I can say I love it… But for a kid: What is in it for a kid that can choose to play soccer, baseball, or swimming? Why would a kid do it, and in Will’s case; do it with a smile. Seriously, look at the pictures. I didn’t interact with Will all that much, didn’t know his (amazing) family, didn’t know him before he joined LMR. But from the moment I saw him running, always with a smile on his face, I knew that was a very special kid.

 In our group, Will was the thermometer, if we had to ask the kids to run a bit faster, or further, or push a stretch a tad lower, or add an additional pushup… We decided that Will’s smile (or lack off) would tell us if the exercise was really too much. For a kid to face discomfort, boredom and pain with a smile, it’s extraordinary. I knew the moment he flinched even the slightest, was the moment to stop pushing. 

The "Will-ometer" was the perfect way to measure kids' will to continue with a tough exercise. Gosh! I loved that kid I didn’t even know that well! I loved his family, without knowing them, for creating the conditions for that kid to grow. I LOVE running. Among many other things, because, cheese as it might sound; it gives me the time and space to think, be grateful, and try to "Walk Like Will”  every time I do it. - Alfonso 

I think with Will, he had a natural self-confidence and comfort with himself, part natural and part cultivated and nurtured over the years by his family - which both helped with the individual sports and made him a great teammate capable and willing to lift up and motivate his teammates. It's why sports can be such an apt analogy for life, because they mirror the impact someone can have in other areas of one's life, as was the case with Will.  - Geoff

My memories of William are of a boy in motion: flying around the corner past my house on a bike or scooter, usually with a cheeky little wave to me, hanging from the monkey bars, launching himself precipitously down some snow covered hill on a sled (usually with Kristy), aiming a marshmallow shooter at Sophie, swimming, diving, running, or playing ping pong at Daleview - always wet and with a ton of friends - and best of all, throwing his head back and laughing uproariously, with that most delicious and infectious raspy laugh.  In my photos, Will is often a blur, caught mid-dash or turn or wiggle or leap. But I also remember a tiny guy who kept up with the big kids without complaint or whining, who usually only said something when he had something yo say, and who was quietly but wickedly smart.  I’ll never forget baby William, who stunned me one day when he could barely walk, grabbing my brand new IPhone and figuring out how to swipe in seconds! Just thinking of him makes me smile. We miss him.  - Lucy 

One of my favorite memories with William is at his two birthday parties at the farm. I remember it was so fun because we got to go on a hayride and William got to drive the tractor. After, we played a lot of football in the field and then when it got really dark out, we all went into the corn maze and scared the older kids. So we would just wait inside the corn maze until the older kids would come by and we would jump out and scare them. It was really funny because they would all start screaming. Then we would run around in the corn maze, and some people got lost. After, we would sit by the fire and eat marshmallows. These were the best birthday parties ever. Better than my own birthday parties. I really miss William and I wish he were still with us. I’m really happy to have these memories. - Asfaw

I miss Will and think of him every day! Will and Sophie mean the world to me, I love them both so much and cherish our memories in Tawas every summer growing up, watching the 4th of July parade and playing on the beach, spending Thanksgivings in Silver Spring and visiting DC... Those are my favorite memories. I think Kathryn said it at his memorial - you never really know how special those moments are until they are gone.  Love you guys! -  Bethany

One memory I have of William is how he enjoyed playing two and four square. Kai and I would often play two square while waiting for the morning bus to HVES at the corner of Caroline and Normandy. William would come sprinting around the corner from Granville because he loved to play with us and the other kids. William always had a huge grin on his face when he ran and his black hair was peeled back from the force of the wind. And William was very competitive, and a good four square player. He was always able to hold his own against bigger kids. So Kai and I would draw four squares on the ground, knowing William and others would be joining in the fun. We miss playing with you William.  - Brian 

This excerpt is taken from a report The Barker Adoption Foundation wrote following a visit to the Hovis-Wallmo family on October 5, 2008, just 15 days before William’s first birthday. Even at this very young age William was full of life and made everyone happy. 

"William is generally a happy child, and easy to please. He enjoys being held by his parents and is also able to entertain himself for longer periods of time playing with his toys.  William especially loves being outdoors and is very observant of his environment. He has developed a relaxed relationship with their large dog and finds great pleasure in crawling back and forth over the dog while she sleeps. The dog is oblivious to William as he laughs with glee crawling back and forth over the dog.

William has also begun interacting more with Sophie. She loves helping to feed him and finds watching the mess he makes feeding himself finger foods such as peas, very entertaining. Jerry describes it as priceless to see Sophie laugh so hard at William with peas smeared all over his face. Sophie occasionally has a friend or two come over to play, and they all take turns playing with William and pretending to be little mommies. 

William has a love for music and especially enjoys playing with his toys that make music, including a train that plays music as it crawls across the floor, and a keyboard music maker.  William continues to snuggle at nap and bedtime with his blanket that came with him from Korea."  - Sue Hollar

 William grew up across the street from us, and although we didn’t have a lot of interaction with him, we regularly saw him riding his bike, shooting baskets, playing with Rosie, or running around at neighborhood gatherings. Funny, sweet and always smiling. This is the bright image of William that we will always remember. - Elsie 

I live a few doors down from the beautiful Hovis family. Two things I will never forget about William is his strength and smile. From my living room, I enjoy a perfect  view of sprawling green space directly across from my house. I watched my kids and kids from the neighborhood often play football, baseball, soccer, hide and seek, you name it. I remember William totally kicking but when he played anything out there. He hung tough with the kids 5+ years older than him when they played football. I always thought: man that kid has some arm, he can throw a football. William’s laugh and smile were infectious. I can hear his distinct laugh in my head. And smiling. Always smiling. That’s just how he was. 

William was my daughter Grace’s school bus patrol. I remember panicking one day when Grace didn’t come off the bus. I looked at William with fright in my eyes and he calmly said, Grace stayed after school for something and then ran off. I won’t ever forget that day of panic when it was my young neighbor who eased my fears. 

I know I will never, ever be able to Walk Like Will…but I sure will try. - Fran  

Our family memories of William are all from the summer pool, where we have been lucky to meet and befriend the Hovis family. In looking through past summer photo albums, I hope it's okay that I snagged a couple and am sending them here. The first photos are pure joy. William was always on the move playing and smiling at the pool, as every kid should be! I even included one of William and all the kids dancing together after one of the swim meets. - Julie  

First of all I have to say how wonderful it has been to read these over the last week – so many people touched by Will’s time with us, all in so many different ways; and yet, a clear consistency right from his first birthday: an image clear as day of a kid who knew who he was, was comfortable in his own skin and shared that strong sense of self and what was important in life, day in and day out with those closest to him. So thank you to the Hovis's for suggesting that people share these with Reply All – it was a generous act that has filled my days with joy over the last week.

My story (Alex's memory is coming soon!) is, for a change, NOT about soccer (-: but a tiny moment in time that just stuck with me. Will and Alex were at the beach, and after a few hours of activity in the morning they were about to slip into a lazy afternoon filled with screens (I could tell). And Will walked outside and saw some kayaks on the ground. “Hey!!! Let’s go kayaking!!” he screamed so joyfully it reminded me of a Calvin and Hobbes strip when Calvin sees a sled after a snowstorm. Alex had no choice but to get as enthused as Will was, and off they went. That was Will: find the joy nearby, and grab it with a smile, a scream and a friend. It struck me what an incredibly positive influence he was on Alex, reminding him to not take a kayak lying on the ground for granted. We all miss him so much, but he had that same positive influence on all of us, it’s his legacy and I know for sure that we will continue to think of Will in all of those “Will moments” for so many years to come. As so many others here have said, I may not always be able to walk like Will, but I will try!

The photo I am sharing (apologies to the Hovis family, you've definitely seen this before!) is not related to the story, except that it shows Will's positive influence in clear view, judging by all the joyful smiles at a birthday party! - Geoff

My heart will always remember visiting Will on Good Friday in his bed as the family prayed with me.  Also his grandmother was there.  He fought the Good fight.  I’m grateful to have been in his journey.  - In Christ, Fr. Dan Leary 

In all these memories being shared, what is so evident is the smiling strength and bountiful way William embraced life and play. My story of William echoes that same strength, resilience, and joy. My family has so many memories of Will taking on the big kids in snowball fights and often winning. How many times did he get a good face full of snow, or get caught by those sneaky snowballs that slide down your neck, and only to laugh heartily - and maybe even taunt the opposition. My guys enjoyed having William on their side. He was tough, fought hard, and made it fun with his laughter and joy. He was often the first to show up and the last to leave the battle. 

And with more backyard fun, William was one of the few ”younger” kids who fully embraced the makeshift bike pump track. He worked so hard to navigate “the hole” with his bike, tumbling and completely wiping out. But no tears, no frustration. He would pop up, push the bike out of the hole, hop back on and try it again all the while laughing. When the boys decided to build a ramp, William was right there, planning and hammering. And when it was finished, he was fearless at riding down the ramp and tried to convince all it would be great for skate-boarding, too. 

Time has a way of eroding the details of memory…water on stones. Some details get lost as sand; like did they ever use the ramp for skateboards?. The one detail that will never be lost and only shines brighter with time is Will’s love of life, play and adventure. And that whole-face smile. And that unabashed joy. And the courageous spirit. That beautiful, amazing spirit that lives within our hearts. May we all #WalkLikeWill with grace and joy.

 My love to you, Kristy, Jerry and Sophie. We miss him, too - Celeste 

Reading all the memories of William serves to remind us all of what a special person he was and of how we are all better for knowing him.  The images that come through in almost all of what I’ve read are smiles, laughs, and strength. We would see William and his family once or twice a year and these qualities were always paramount (along with the mischievous streak some have mentioned).   Therefore, my memory will be a little different. When William became critically ill, I flew to Maryland to help in any way I could. Even though William was very sick, he still smiled, laughed and showed unbelievable strength. However, I also saw his desire to please everyone and in a way to comfort his mom, dad, and sister. When asked to do something, Will would do his darndest to do it and then he would say something like “I did it Mommy” with that contagious smile. Without knowing it, he ensured everyone that he was going to be all right. He hugged, he smiled, and he thanked everyone for everything we did. After reflecting, I realize it is Will we should thank for teaching us what is important, for teaching us to Walk like Will. - Heidi 

My memories of Will, Go back a long ways the fun that we had at the parks. First when we went to Disney William was not thrilled about going on any rides so we would stay back and go to the pool and have a fun day. And I can remember when we were in Hawaii on the island of Kawai stayed in a treehouse in the fun we had. We would play out in the sand and then Jerry would take him and they would go in the water and will would kind of be on his back and they would swim along and will had such a fun time. - Sharon

All the things our family loves doing with your family -- swimming and hiking and smiling and .. dabbing! And there is William, riding high, and giving the rest of us inspiration with his love of life and ability to be cheerful, even when things were hard. We will always carry that warm spirit and inspiration with us, cause that was William's gift to us.  Thinking of you, Kristy, Jerry, Sophie and family, in this Easter season. -  Mary  

I will have to send two emails because going through my photos of William and Asfaw, there were so many precious moments. One of my favorites is from an afternoon we had at Dave and Busters. I loved watching William and Asfaw run around trying to get everything in. Then there is the video of the two of them going down our basement stairs on a mattress, which many of you saw in Kristy's video. I was always afraid someone would break an arm or leg, but they had so much fun that I didn't stop them. What Asfaw (and I) loved about William - was his willingness to jump in and have fun, take a a chance without fear, and once in the moment, enjoy. Isn't that what we all strive for? And yes, when that is how you approach life, as William did, you will suffer some broken bones. Even if it means breaking the same arm twice ( the second time, skateboarding).  Sometimes we had so much fun Will and Asfaw would pass out on the ride home. Another favorite moment of mine. 

 There are few memories I have of William that do not include Kristy, or Kristy and Jerry, too. They are all wonderful. The photos I'm including were one of many fun trips Kristy and I took to Wheaton Regional Park with the boys. I included photos of one trip to the fishing pond in the park. We all know how much William loved to fish. I don't remember if they caught anything, but likely William did, as that was usually the case. I know we saw more turtles than fish that day, which was almost as exciting. The photo of the boys walking back was en route to the dog park - our usual path. Another great memory at Wheaton Regional was a trip we took to the playground, late in the afternoon. We stayed so long that it was pitch dark when we needed to walk back through the woods. It was a bit challenging because there was construction and the path from the playground was blocked by a huge pile of dirt and debris. No worries! We climbed over the pile, used our phones as flashlights, and made the spooky walk back to the car. The boys were never scared. If anything, it was a great adventure. Will's positive spirit always made the day feel like an adventure - his spirit was contagious. - Deb B.

William is missed everyday by all of us. From the moment he came into our life nothing was the same; the high energy, the entertainment, the love, the craziness, the life he brought to ours was tremendous!  Every time we were together left a wonderful memory.  - Aunt Helen and Uncle Ralph, Kelli and family, and Kathryn.    

So many memories we have of William from the first day we met him. He was such a delight and brought so much joy to our family. Most of our early memories are of the fun times we had up in Oscoda (MI) on the lake. William was always laughing and having fun. (When he wasn’t terrorizing Sophia…or was it the other way around?) We so miss him and although it will never be the same without him we are all the better for having had him in our family. - Aunt Ruth and Uncle Tom, Jonathan and Bethany 

I have loved reading all these memories of Will.  We knew Will mostly from Cub Scouts, where he was constantly happy, content with whatever we were doing, and never complaining.  He loved the outdoor adventures we had, from fishing in park lakes to camping at Gettysburg.  When I asked Stuart for a memory of William, he said he remembered finishing a Cub Scout meeting and playing football, and realizing that Will was better than everyone else.  We will always remember Will’s smile and his laughter, and we count ourselves so very lucky to have known him.  - Debbie B. 

My memories of Will are around the holidays when he was in Atlanta with his Grandma. He was always so joyful and polite.   The love the family had for each other enveloped others like me and Will was an integral part of that. - Amy

Although I have many great memories of Will, like hearing his voice calling out for a crab net when we were crabbing, or calling for the ball at recess in football, or celebrating his goals together in soccer, this is one of my favorites: About a week after breaking his arm (skateboarding, I think), my dad told me he wouldn't be able to play soccer for a while, which was a big disappointment. The next day he shows up at practice, happily swinging his cast. I wonder if either Jerry or Kirsty even knew he walked over to practice, as he lives right across from the field. This memory shows a lot about Will and how nice he was and how much he cared about the team, when I asked him why he came he said something along those lines of "I'm fine I can easily play already!" - Alex 

One significant remembrance of Will is connected with water. Whether it was at the lake in Tawas City, Michigan or at the fishing pond at the park: he always beamed around water. Whether he was splashing in the lake water or catching some fish (most of which looked like guppies to me), there he was laughing, smiling and just enjoying the moment. Will surely taught me the importance of appreciating the miracle of the moment of now!

The other remembrance of Will I would share is the moments he would sit and just talk from the heart about things that mattered to him. The content of those conversations is not so important; though they were to Will and me. What really mattered is this: a very young man was so in touch with his inner self that he could reach out to an older person (okay....a MUCH older person!) and share from the heart a life story that was occurring in the moment. He didn't keep much in. Will spoke to me and to so many others from his heart about things that mattered.  

Why such a young man had to leave us so early is not easily explained away. What I know is this: Will was "one of a kind!" He knew how to live. I'm sure he is living an even fuller life with the Lord! God rest this awesome young man's soul!  Peace, prayers and love. - Bob

 We think of William every day. There are so many wonderful memories of William, but the one thing that is the same for all of them is how playful, fun, and humorous he was. We remember the beach vacations when William would venture out on a surfboard or a boogie board with little fear. His infectious laugh and smile could always make us chuckle especially when he would do something silly or make fun of his sister. Liam fondly remembers riding bikes with William, trying out new tricks, or making videos on a GoPro. Liam and William always enjoyed snowboarding together and would encourage each other to try something new even when it was a bit risky. And it was wonderful to see their laughter when their best-laid plans, went off the rails, as it sometimes would. We will always remember William for how he lived his life; full of energy, adventure and fun. His spirit will continue to live on in our memories. We strive to Walk Like Will in our daily lives. We miss William so much, but we are grateful to have so many great memories of him. - Dave, Carly, Nina, and Liam 

I remember that time(s) when William erroneously claimed that my 4Runner was not a real truck. Try as I might, even explaining that the 4Runner was the last SUV actually built frame-on-body, he would not relent. He kept saying, “it’s not a truck.” He also loved his baby monster trucks, playing with them for hours in the wet sand by the ocean, occasionally stopping to dig for sand crabs. But he was wrong about the 4Runner. I love you and miss you Will. - Robby