Willie Bandy has been my friend for over twenty years.
We have become close friends during the past ten years or so
and while I knew he was suffering and the prognosis was not good, it
is still a shock when the call came that he was gone.
Willie was an OKIE, coming from the metropolis of Loco,
Oklahoma. He migrated to northern California in the sixties and later
relocated to southern California for his job as a factory manager with
Ethan Allen Furniture.
Willie first was attacked with cancer about 1994,
when he had to have his lymph glands removed and underwent a rigorous
treatment regimen. He
beat it and was clean for seven years. Last Christmastime, he took his family on a trip to his
in-laws in South Dakota and upon returning home, had a terrible cold,
which he thought might turn into pneumonia.
The visit to the doctor revealed an inoperable tumor
encompassing both lungs. It
wasn’t a recurrence of the former condition, but a whole new
attacker. Willie had
fought and won before and he was poised to once again attack this
demon. He went through
the chemotherapy and lost his hair and about fifty pounds, but tests
revealed that the tumor had reduced in size and he got back some use
of his lungs. When he
felt well enough, he returned to his love of auto racing, attending
several races at Perris, Ventura and even Lakeside as part of the NWWC
tour. A couple of weeks ago, he went in for a routine exam and they
found new spots on his lungs and it was necessary for him to be on
oxygen twenty-four hours a day. His
condition deteriorated quickly and today as he went in for another
exam, he slipped into a coma and passed away.
Willie was a good man.
He had many friends among the regular CRA/SCRA fans.
Early on Willie was an Eddie Wirth fan and has been a longtime
Rip Williams fan and more recently, rooted for John Scott also.
He was quite special to me, as we shared many interests and
experiences in our lives and were able to relate to each other.
I will miss my hairy-legged Okie buddy, but I am relieved to
know that his suffering is over.
I now grieve for his wife Sonia, who has stood by him during
all these tribulations. He
leaves his children, stepchildren and a bunch of grandkids, who all
loved him. He was so
proud of those kids and their accomplishments.
Willie Bandy just collected the checkered flag at the big
racetrack in the sky. Godspeed