photo of Bill and Big Al   photo of Bill sketching   a photograph of my brother-in-law, Bill

Bill Whalen

how Autumn looks to Bill

This page is for Bill, my very special brother-in-law. Bill is developmentally handicapped, but very high-functioning. I hesitate to use Bill's name and the word 'handicapped' in the same sentence, because Bill's never been one to let obstacles get in his way. He's extremely outgoing and considers everyone he meets a potential friend. People respond easily to his warmth and sincerity, and he makes friends wherever he goes. He's got a great sense of humor and loves it when friends and family give him a hard time. He loves to banter back and forth and is pretty quick on the uptake.

some of Bill's drawings Bill grew up in Clinton, Iowa, where he lived with his mom until the two of them moved to Seattle to be near other family members. Bill now lives in a group home with three other men and several rotating live-in staff and counselors. Shortly after settling in, Bill became a member of PEOPLE FIRST, a national self-advocacy organization for people with developmental disabilities, and he has attended several of their conventions. He works full time at his brother's Greenwood True Value hardware store and is handling his own money and finances for the first time. Bill is well-known in the Greenwood area, particularly at Herkimer's Coffee Shop, where the staff automatically hands him his daily double-shot of fresh-ground espresso. He loves to swim and has competed in Special Olympics for decades, earning hundreds of gold medals in the backstroke and freestyle categories. He also walks several miles each day, climbing Seattle's hills with ease. Bill is fascinated by architecture and can identify all periods and styles. He loves shopping malls and is intrigued by the new 'live where you work' communities that have become popular in the northwest. Bill's excellent sense of direction has helped him learn the bus routes needed to get around easily in Seattle, and he's become very independent. We're proud of him.

Bill's self portrait Bill became interested in art and drawing several years ago during one of his annual visits with us. He prefers to work with colored pencils. When he's drawing, he concentrates intensely and doesn't like to talk to anyone until he's finished with his project. This is Bill's self-portrait. It's not surprising to see that his arms are open wide, ready for a hug.

We love you, Bill! You go, guy!

Back to Guest Artists   Back to Big Al's Galleries