Billy Brewer needed someone. Desperately. His father has Alzheimer's disease and can't communicate. So his mom sought to connect Billy with a Big Brother. But within a span of a few weeks, three Big Brothers strolled into Billy's life and walked out after meeting just once, destroying the boy's self-esteem. He was 11 years old.
But then Bill Koenig, a broker for Raymond James Financial Services in Spring Hill, Fla., entered Billy's life. And six years later, Koenig hasn't left. The two have become inseparable, like father and son. They spend an enormous amount of time together — fishing, golfing, boating, going to baseball games, eating, talking and even working at Koenig's office.
“Words can't express what Bill has meant to us,” says Elizabeth Brewer, Billy's mom. “He means everything to me,” Billy says of Koenig. “He's been a guiding force in my life.”
When Koenig first met Billy, “he was extremely quiet, a real introvert,” says Koenig, who has one daughter, Barbara, 26, from a previous marriage. “He was emotionally hurt. He had lost his father, a person he truly idolized. Talking to him back then was like pulling teeth. Now,” Koenig says with a laugh, “you can't shut Billy up!”
Where would the boy be today without his Big Brother? “I don't even want to think about it,” says Billy, now 16. “But I bet I'd be in a lot of trouble.”
Bringing happiness to others is not out of the ordinary for Koenig, described by friends as warm, kind and generous. “Bill would not only give you the shirt off his back, but he'd go get every shirt in his dresser, too,” one friend says.
When the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America chapter in Koenig's county needed office space, Koenig gave the organization part of his office at no cost.
Koenig's wife, Debbie, occasionally steps in to take Billy out when her husband is held up at work. She ultimately became a Big Sister, and the trio has become a “Big Team.”
To show his appreciation to Koenig, Billy made a computer-generated award certificate that states: “This Officially, Absolutely, Positively Certifies That Bill Koenig Is a Super Big Brother.” Billy signed and dated it, June 16, 1996. The framed award hangs in Koenig's office. He can barely look at it without getting choked up.
Billy can make Koenig laugh pretty easily, too. Like when he gave the hairless Koenig a “bald man's hair brush” — a flat wooden paddle. Or when he gave Koenig a shirt with the saying: “I'm not bald. I'm just too tall for my hair.”
The bond is so strong between the two that Billy says, “He'll never get rid of me.”
“No,” Koenig says. “He'll never get rid of me!”