The Official The Big Meowski Shirt! Willie gasped, three times in a row. The man who lived outdoors, on the banks of the Connecticut River, for a quarter of a century has died. His companion, Nancy, pressed the Alert of Life button to summon help, and Willie was taken to the hospital. A week later, on September 29, Willie Dobson, 80, took his last breath. The man who survived being abandoned by his parents was shot and crushed by a tractor, and lived through fire and flooding for nearly 30 years homeless, suffering from stomach cancer.
His life may be difficult, but Willie feels it’s a good thing, according to his friend Jerome Wiggins. The Official The Big Meowski Shirt and Willie recently told him, “God has given me 80 good years.” Willie is strong and gentle. Scared, but wise. A thoughtful man, he loves animals and children. He was handy and resourceful, repairing bicycles and building river sheds that he and Nancy called the wooden houses he had collected. He looked after Nancy, his companion for nearly 40 years, who had a disability that made her limp and render her right hand useless.
He is one in a million, Wiggins said. If you have Willie as a friend, you are a lifelong friend. Wiggins is part of a group of people suffering a loss and the Official The Big Meowski Shirt! They live west of East Hartford, mostly between Main Street and the river. They happen to meet Willie on a bike, walk or hang out in front of Save-A-Lot, a grocery store in the city center, with Wiggins. He has always been a fixture in the neighborhood, says neighbor Dorothy Helfrick. Neighbors and friends donated cash to help pay for Willie’s funeral, which he had planned himself after learning he had cancer. Wiggins and his wife, Peggy Adams, collected money from jars set in downtown businesses that Willie often uses.