Neighbors organize a pet parade for dying South Loop man

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Bill Hession, 83, wasn't well enough to look out the window but his South Loop neighbors got together and held a pet parade in his honor on Saturday afternoon.

Dozens of residents, along with their dogs gathered outside his sixth floor apartment at 2001 S. Calumet, and paraded around.

Their beloved neighbor was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia on October 31, 2019.

In a letter, his daughter Katie Hession said Bill chose to return home to his wife, four adult kids and his best pal and dog Veronica, and enter hospice.

"He may not see you or hear you, but I hope to capture the procession from above in a photograph and show him how much the neighborhood cares for him, a friend, and fellow dog walker," wrote Katie.

Neighbors stood outside with homemade signs, waved Irish flags and sang when "Irish Eyes are Smiling."

"My mother was standing on the balcony with me and she was in tears," said Katie.

Hession is heavily medicated on morphine and could die at any moment, according to Katie.

"I told him Dad, you had so many of your friends and their dogs all standing out in the front," Katie said. "He opened his eyes, and he kind of muttered 'oh my god.'"

Bill's father moved here from Ireland and raised his family on the South Side of Chicago.

Bill is a retired teacher and football coach for Reavis High School in Burbank.

His family convinced he and his wife to move to the South Loop about 16 years ago.

"Even if you said a quick hello or stopped to chat, he loved every minute and reported back to my mother on who he met, each dog's name, and if Veronica was good to them," said Katie.

Veronica, a Bichon Poodle, came into her parents' lives 9 years ago.

"On her good days she will be friendly and nice, today she tried to start a fight," Katie laughed.

His family realizes Bill does not have long on this earth and that COVID-19 restrictions will prevent them giving him a proper wake and funeral.

"He is Irish after all and is so deserving of a fine send-off for a life well lived," said Katie.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.