Black bows affixed to the windows of the Franklin County Courthouse signify a void left in the minds and hearts of all who knew former Sheriff Bill Wilson, who died Sunday, Oct. 30.
In the circuit clerk's office, employees wore T-shirts that commemorate the last employee picnic Wilson hosted prior to his retirement in 2010.
Circuit Clerk Donna Sevenski said an employee of the Sheriff's Office kept her apprised of Wilson's condition while he was in Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon.
Sevenski said she had visited Wilson in the hospital the previous Wednesday.
"I talked to him after he got out of the intensive care unit," Sevenski said. "I got a phone call on Thursday saying that he was doing better, then I got a visit first thing Sunday morning about his death. I was shocked.
"He organized the employee picnic and cooked for it every year," she said. "We had T-shirts made that we wore last year during the picnic and wore them again on Tuesday to honor this great man.
"I loved him," Sevenski said. "He was one of my favorite sheriffs. He always thought of others. He cooked even when I know that he didn't feel like it. I will really miss him.
"In the circuit clerk's office, we saw Bill every day," she said. "He brought up the bond money and subpoenas and summons to be served from the jail. He had a great attitude. He was always smiling; always laughing."
Bill Young said he and Wilson started working for the county the same day.
"I was hired to do maintenance the same day that Bill started," he said. "That was Dec. 1, 1990. He was the best man I ever worked for."
County vlerk's office employee Lisa Stella posted her thoughts on Facebook.
"This is a sad time for Franklin County," she wrote. "We have lost the former sheriff of Franklin County, George 'Bill' Wilson. I want his friends and family to know how much I appreciated his leadership as a sheriff, his loyalty to county politics and his caring way he had for his family and friends.
"He will always be "Sheriff Bill" to me and I will miss him terribly," Stella said. "Keep 'em laughin' Bill just like you did every day when you came to the courthouse. I love and miss you my friend."
Others commented that Wilson was the best friend a person could have. County Clerk employee Beth Williams said Wilson gave each employee his personal cell phone number in case they ever needed to contact him.
Another employee said "There will never be another Bill Wilson."
County Board member David Rea said he considered it an honor know him.
"I count it as an honor to be one of his friends," he said. "He was a great friend of mine."
Court security officer Ann Lytle said Wilson would be missed.
Court security officer Ken Oakley said the former sheriff previously served as commander of the American Legion.
Court security officer Alan Barnfield called Wilson's passing a great loss for law enforcement.
"He did a lot for this county," Barnfield said. "He was a really good friend. I really miss him."
Judge Tom Tedeschi said Wilson was a personal friend.
"He was a person who had an amazing ability to get along with others," Tedeschi said. "He was supportive of me throughout my career and my life. He was an outstanding law enforcement officer and administrator. He was respected by all and will be missed greatly by me and my family."
Visitation is slated for 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3 in St. John's Catholic Church in West Frankfort. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the church. Union Funeral Home in West Frankfort is in charge of the arrangements.