I never met the Honorable Bill Walsh. I did see him in church from time to time after he moved to Highland Drive in Marcellus, but I think I know him, at least in one way, because I've met and talked with one of his sons and one of his daughters.
It was only a few years ago, before Bill's son, Jim, decided to hang it up as a Congressman. He had graciously agreed to meet me at the Niagara Mohawk building (Yes, I know that its not named that any more, but it still is to me) to talk about the nominee for a testimonial dinner. I had been to his office several times as a petitioner for one cause or another. But this time, he said that it would be easier for me if he just walked over to Nimo. We discussed the nominee and then we chatted about the city, how it stretched out from the window of his office in the Federal Office building, how beautiful it was to him. He talked about Most Holy Rosary, his friends, his time in the Peace Corps and the meaning of service. He asked me about the Samaritan Center and how it was doing. He said one of the most compelling things that I have ever heard from a public servant. When we were discussing the need to help the poor in the community, he said, "This is a nation built on competition and not everyone is equipped to compete." Wow! Yes, yes, not everyone can compete, for a lot of reasons. That pretty well sums it up, I thought.
His sister Mary is another story. It is only quite recently that I came to know that Mary Brown's maiden name is Walsh. Her daughter played soccer with my daughter for Marcellus, and we would often meet alongside muddy fields late in the afternoon, each of us playing our own version of adult hooky to be there for our children. Both of us, dressed in business attire, would find ourselves with high-heeled shoes stuck in the soft earth. One day, Mary just took her shoes off and spent the rest of the time watching barefoot in the soft squishy earth. I really admired that. I thought, "There's a woman who knows who she is."