The Teacher (Memory Journal Entry by Kate)
Will was a teacher. A teacher hardly ever enclosed by four walls, chalk boards or desk tops. Every person he interacted with, he taught. You couldn’t not learn from him. Whatever you were doing, I pretty much guarantee Will could come alongside of you and teach you how to better yourself, your business, or your friendships.
I was lucky enough to have Will begin teaching and mentoring me early on in my music career. I sought his opinion/counsel on almost every career decision. If I texted him a question, he almost always responded with two words: “Call me.” He didn’t want to shoot an answer right back & answer it himself…he wanted to take whatever question I was asking and make it a teachable moment by talking through it…by helping me learn how to answer the question within myself. To set up the tools for processing…building my foundation for decision making. Planning. Executing. We literally spent hundreds of hours on the phone over our 10 years of our friendship.
One of the times I remember being so deeply moved by Will’s teaching was in the studio a few years back. Jill & I were recording some songs with Will & Ben Kesler. It was my turn in the vocal booth and I was having a particularly hard time. I am not entirely sure what it was that I was struggling with…but I do remember that my confidence was on the verge of making a crash landing. I was in the booth…Will, Ben & Jill were on the other side of the glass. I was near tears. Will paused the session. Grabbed a folding share and sat down right next to me with a computer and head phones. Then he talked to me. Told me I had a voice. I had something to say. To take it slow and that he was right there with me. I was able to move forward and get the song done. With him pretty much holding my hand every step of the way. And man, if there is one person to coach you vocally…ugh…it was William. His voice. His range. His falsetto. His depth. He brought things out of me vocally I never expected.
One of my most precious memories is this picture from that moment:
Another life-changing teachable moment I saw in Will that will absolutely stay with me for the rest of my life was in the hospital after his first surgery. Jill and I had flown out to be with him & Angie. He had an array of nurses & Dr.’s and there was one nurse that was….kind of an airhead (no offense.) She just wasn’t super on top of her game. Will had a machine that he could use to administer medicine when he needed it by clicking a button. The machine had been malfunctioning so he would push the button and not get the medicine and the machine would then start making a SUPER annoying beeping sound. Angie, Jill or I would immediately quiet the beeping as to not disturb Will. We would go get the nurse and she would say something and pretend to fix the problem. I think around the 10th time of this cycle happening, it started beeping again…I got up to shut it off…and Will said “Let’s leave it beeping and see if that will help her learn better.” So the beeping went on. And on. And on. I looked at Will unsure if I should just shut it off since it was still going on. He said “No, let it beep. Maybe this will help her learn.” She finally came in and ended up resolving the problem. I just stood there and almost laughed. I couldn’t believe that in his pain, discomfort…he was trying to make her better. To make her better at her job. William, even in his darkest days continued to teach. He was a teacher. And daily I am reaping the rewards from what I learned from him.
JohnSeptember 21, 2013
Thank you for sharing with us Kate! It reminded me of a time that I was making one of the bigger decisions in my life…. I sent some e-mails and texts out to the family in distress over a decision that needed to be made in the next couple of hours and Will responded, “Call me.” Will didn’t tell me what to do but 10 minutes later, I knew for myself the next direction my life was going to take thanks to Will the teacher.
Thank you for the story, both stories, that you shared. So beautiful. I am amazed at how he continued to live and love and teach while his own life faded away…
MindiSeptember 20, 2013
Wow… What beautiful stories of his ability to coach and teach. I love this line: “I couldn’t believe that in his pain, discomfort…he was trying to make her better… William, even in his darkest days, continued to teach.” Those of us on the fringes are still learning from his legacy. It’s clear that journey to learn from him is nowhere near over.