By Tracy Sugra
As I sat down to write this story about my brother, I really struggled with what I wanted to say. Many of you know Bill’s story - how he got to New York City, where he worked, and how much he loved to live in the city. I thought about my relationship with my brother and how I wanted you to know not just what he did, but who he was.
Since Bill’s death, many people have told me how my brother and his quiet and kind demeanor touched their lives. This has inspired and amazed me. I wanted to share, though, some of my personal and fond memories about my brother. Some are as shining as the stories I’ve heard from so many people and some are the kind only a sibling can tell and appreciate.
The first thing I remember about Bill was his laugh and how it always made me feel so good that I could make him laugh by telling some silly story. I remember how he always ate his fries before his hamburger. I remember his 7th birthday and how he trapped me into his new tent, tied the strings from the outside, and let a coffee can full of live butterflies free to swarm around my head. Bill was the person that taught me to ride a bike. He said he would hold onto the back of the bike so I wouldn’t fall, but when I turned around 30 seconds later, he was still standing in the driveway and I was riding on my own.
I remember when I was in kindergarten and we went to different schools. My bus always came to pick me up first, but on the day it didn’t he took me to school with him so I wouldn’t be left alone at the bus stop.
I remember that he was there on my 21st birthday to escort me around Pitt and enjoy that monumental time in someone’s life. It never bothered him to spend time with my friends and I, and even though we were little high school girls, he invited us to his university, IUP. He took us out on the town without embarrassment, always proud of his sister and her friends.
Bill always wrote a message in my birthday cards and would sign them “Love, Bill”. After Bill’s death, I told my mother I wished I could hear from Bill. Later that day, she was in the attic looking for pictures of Bill and stumbled across a notebook that was empty, except for one page. On that page was a letter he wrote, but never gave to me. In part it read:
Whether you think so or not you have meant a great deal to me. I enjoy your friendship. You are one of a kind! Tracy, remember that thinking of you always makes me feel better. The only reason I am telling you this is so I can return some of the good feelings you have brought to me back to you.
Love your smile,
He did all of these wonderful things for me even after he told my mom, right after I was born, to put me back where I came from. I never really realized how close a bond and relationship we actually had and how much he really did care for me.
These are the fond memories that only a sibling can have. Now that I have lost these experiences, I sometimes feel I have no one to casually remember old stories with or to reminisce, “remember when you did…?” So as I struggled to convey to you my special memories of Bill, I decided to share some of the best times so that maybe you can join in that chuckle that would have been Bill’s and understand my brother a little more. Through these memories, I also realized I could provide a glimpse into his spirit. This spirit makes the memorial fund a reality and a dream come true to all the people we can help in our community.
When I think of all the generosity, compassion, and love that have gone in to making this foundation a reality, I sometimes look up to the sky and can only imagine what Bill is saying. This would be beyond his wildest dreams.
We found a favorite quote of Bill’s in a journal that he never shared with any of us. It seems so appropriate and should be something that we should strive to think of every day of our lives. “The impact that you make on this earth will be measured by how you are remembered after you are gone.” While it’s my hope these stories about Bill will help you get to know a little better the person he was, the generosity and effort you all put forth for the memorial fund have also taught me about a side of Bill.
William C. Sugra tragically died in the terrorists attacks of September 11th and his family has created a memorial fund whose mission is to help the needy and disadvantaged in their time of need. We wanted Billy’s spirit to live on forever, doing good work for other people.