When I first was assigned to the Birmingham, AL parish, "Mr. Bill" was one of the first parishioners I met. By that time he had been an altar boy for over 75 years, and been in charge of all the altar boys for almost 60 years. He taught me a great deal of my liturgical knowledge, and during the weekday services I knew he would be present, even as he was fighting Parkinson's Disease and other health issues.
The only time Mr. Bill was not regularly attending church was in World War 2 when he served as an LSI driver in the Pacific Theater. In fact, his presence at the Birmingham Cathedral's altar was so constant that he literally 'left his mark' there. The Cathedral is entirely stone, even in the altar area. Mr Bill liked to lean against one interior pillar and direct the acolytes, and after close to 60 years of doing so where his head had touched the pillar, he literally had worn it smooth and stained the stone with his skin oils.
He reposed suddenly last Friday. If his funeral were on a day other than Monday I would like to attend, but as that day is the Presentation of the Lord I need to stay here in Jackson and offer a Liturgy for my own parishioners. Here
is a part of his obituary in the paper....I will miss him.
VALEKIS, VASIL CHARLES "BILL", 87, passed away January 30, 2009. Born on September 2nd, 1921, Bill was a life-long resident of Birmingham. He was a graduate of Ramsey High School, served in the Navy during World War II and returned to earn an engineering degree at Howard College (now Samford University). Bill then worked for Alabama Power Company and Southern Company Services retiring in 1989 after a successful career of 34-years. As a life-long member of the Holy-Trinity Holy Cross Cathedral, he was a very active and most faithful servant. He served his Church and Lord as a dedicated Sunday School Teacher-Director, repeated Parish Council Member, and for many decades, up until the last Sunday before his death, as Acolyte Leader. Bill led a quiet and simple life; he was a man of strong faith. He loved the Lord with his whole being and served Him not only through his Church but in ways only known between Bill and the Lord. He never met a stranger and never failed to share his love for the Lord with those he met along the way.
May his memory be eternal!