At 10:59pm the evening March 10th The Big Guy passed away surrounded by family and Father Bill. His body died, his spirit lives on.
Over the past week, his health has been deteriorating and over the weekend he said goodbye to close family and friends. It was vintage Big Guy. Calling the shots right up until the end. As he faded throughout the afternoon, the doctors gave him 5-10 minutes to live, he lasted over nine hours. Vintage Big Guy. The family gathered and as time went on, we went into our "What would the Big Guy do" mode, so part of the family was sent out on a beer run and we turned Room 10, 3rd floor ICU at Froedert Hospital into a celebration of the Big Guy's life. We told Big Guy stories and read many of the cards and letters that have poured in over the last 86 days. We played his favorite tunes from Frank Sinatra, John Denver, and Barbara Striesand. We said goodbye to the Legend.
At his 70th birthday party, the Big Guy gave a memorable speech about his life and how he had planned to do one more great thing. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he had a feeling. As the days passed in the hospital and the odds stacked up against him I knew that the Great thing would be that he would dance with death and beat it. I was sure of it. I had the party planned.
I was wrong, he did not beat death, but he did do something great. He fought like a warrior, and he died with dignity, class, and honor. He died on his terms. He said goodbye knowing that his wife loved him, his kids loved him, and that he had so many friends all over the world who followed his fight pulling for him all the way. There is a reason that a man five foot eight is called The Big Guy. He was a small man with a very big heart. He leaves behind a great spirit and a legacy that to whom much is given much is required.
When I said my final goodbye in the morning I took him through my top 25 JB/ Big Guy memories (sorted high to low). When I finished he asked for his board. Since he could not talk with breathing support, he would point to letters on the board. He took the pen out of my hand and instead of pointing he circled the letters with a black Sharpie. L......O........V.......E space Y....... He got back to the O which had already been circled and he circled it again and then finally...... U. He then raised his hand and with his finger made a motion circling the room. I said to him “everyone” and he gave me the nod. It was not only for me, but for the family he loved and for all of the friends who thought and prayed for him over the last three months. A lot of people loved my Dad. He loved a lot of people. He had 73 GREAT years and in the final sentence of a note that he left behind he signed off with .....”Thanks, it was a great ride. Love d”
Thank you for all of your prayers and support over the last three months. As we prepare for the Celebration of the Big Guy’s life, if you have any great Big Guy Stories please pass them along to