A Mighty Soul

My memories of William Stringfellow are as warm and colorful as the island he came to I love. He was many things to many people: lawyer, politician, teacher, neighbor, and friend. Bill Stringfellow was my friend.

In 1967 my husband, John, introduced me to his friend Bill. They shared a love of politics and the circus. John was very active in the Democratic Party on Block Island. He was concerned that the minority party had no direction for the future.

In 1970 John urged Bill to run for town council. They agreed that Bill's chances were slim but saw his candidacy as an important step toward the future of the party. The election went as expected, but the groundwork had been laid. My husband died in 1974. He did not live to see Bill elected second warden of the island in 1976.

Bill became a good friend. I looked forward to our get-togethers. A conversation with Bill was always varied and interesting. He had strong opinions on many subjects and was guided by his sense of fairness and justice. I was mostly a listener, not adding much, but was always amazed and delighted at what I heard. Soon I would come to realize the depth of his personal courage and faith.

In 1984 our relationship changed. Bill became my patient, and I became a regular visitor to Eschaton. Every Tuesday and Friday at 10:30 a.m., I knocked on his purple door. My knock was answered by a shrill yipping, followed by a shout of "Quiet!" The door would open to reveal a little man in a circus hat. With MacDougal under his arm and Luke dancing alongside, Bill would welcome me.

We always found time for a visit. Bill loved to talk politics, local and national. He would fill me in on news from mutual friends and his plans for speaking engagements in the future. And of course we always paid our respects to his lovely cigar-store maiden and his beautiful carousel horse. Bill found great pleasure in both. Then we would get down to business.

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