Willie Ben and I would talk at least three times a week on the phone and Willie would tell me what he wanted to do for the organization. Willie did not talk much in our board meetings, but he was a good listener. Willie Ben and I would travel from Washington to Mount Hope (4-hour drive). We did this three times a year for ten years (a decade). I really got to know the man called Willie Ben. He loved sports and loved the Washington Redskins. As we traveled to West Virginia together over the ten years, we got the opportunity to really know one another as mature grown men. I can honestly say that Willie Ben trusted me. We would share and speak from our souls. Willie was a family man and I know that to be a fact. There were two women in his life that he loved dearly, his wife and his only daughter, and he would do anything to protect them. He told me he would give his life for them.
Willie Ben believed in the organization and its purpose. Every Christmas, he and his wife would load his dodge ram truck with Christmas gifts and bring them to Mount Hope for the kids. On Thanksgiving they would adopt a family to provide with a Thanksgiving dinner. Every fall in his backyard located in Ft. Washington, he would have a big cookout for all those who had donated to the Mountain of Hope Organization. Willie's heart was bigger than he was. We miss him!!!!
December 15th & 16th are two days that I will never forget. I was working at church when Willie called to ask when we were leaving for our planning session. We set the time and date we would depart, and he said he would pick me up at Union Station. The last thing we said to one another over the phone was that we loved each other. All our board members say this to each other. The next day, which was Saturday morning, I received a phone call from Willie's daughter. She informed me of his death. I am profoundly grateful for our last words that we shared with each other. "Love You". Because we never know!!!!
In loving memory of our brother from another mother,
Pastor C.W. McKenney, President
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