Wendall Gill of Lexington, Kentucky (pictured above left), experienced devastating tragedy a few months ago, and needed a helping hand.
It began like this: The soft-spoken 85-year-old and his wife of 68 years, Della Gill, ran errands and stopped for lunch at the McDonald’s where he has been employed for forty years.
Della Gill excused herself to use the restroom — and never returned, according to WKYT. She had suffered an aneurysm at her husband’s workplace, and died a day later. “I stayed at the hospital all that night and held her hand,” Gill later said, his eyes filling with tears.
“They say you get over things, but when I think of her, I start crying. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that,” the grieving senior told The Washington Post.
His wife’s passing leaves Gill as the sole caregiver to his adult grandsons, ages 20 and 33, both of whom have special needs. “I’ve got my hands full trying to work and take care of them, too,” Gill told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
After his wife died, Gill reported back to work at McDonald’s.
That’s when Michael Todd Oldfield, who met Gill back in 1978 when he worked at the same McDonald’s restaurant as a teen, walked in the restaurant and simply asked Gill how he was doing.
Wendall Gill’s wife of 68 years, Della, died after suffering an aneurysm at the McDonald’s where Gill works, leaving him to care for their two adopted adult grandsons on his own. https://t.co/90WDg91L0z
— Lexington Herald-Leader (@heraldleader) October 18, 2018
“He began telling me this story, and he couldn’t go 30 seconds without welling up,” Oldfield told The Post, adding he was “torn up” by Gill’s story.
Oldfield decided to help; he started a GoFundMe page titled “Wendall Needs Us to Serve Him Now!” The response was immediate, and more than $76,000 has been raised so far.
Hundreds of customers and community members started donating, reflecting on how much they have appreciated Gill’s friendly nature over the years, noted The Post.
GoFundMe donor Stephanie Baker wrote, “We used to go to McDonald’s as children and still talk about Wendall to this day. Such a sweet soul. We hope he gets these funds and that they truly make a difference in his life, even just momentarily.”
Thanks to YOUR donations Wendall Gill has now paid off two cars and is on his way to paying off his home so he can finally RETIRE at the age of 85.
— Claire Crouch (@clairecrouch) October 18, 2018
“I did just see this situation and said, ‘This is something I can do for God, to help a friend,'” said Oldfield of his efforts to help Gill.
“I still love her as much as I did the day we got married,” Gill says about his wife on a video embedded in his GoFundMe page, his eyes filling with tears. “She’s the first girl I ever went with, and I was the first boy she ever went with.”
The money raised will be used to pay off Gill’s two vehicles, cover his mortgage, and tackle other bills. And now that his wife has passed, Gill will need time off work to take his grandsons to appointments.
Those two adult grandsons are still adjusting to their family’s loss. Of his older grandson Gill said, “He’ll kind of cry a little every now and then and say, ‘I miss granny.’”
Learn more about GoFundMe in the video below.