Waving Willie

Waving Willie was a fixture in Byram Twp for as long as folks can remember. Willie was waving and greeting folks long before Sam Wal-Mart came up with the idea. Willie primarily waved from in front of his home on Route 206, just north of Tamarack Rd, about 2 miles north of Route 80. He waved all day, every day, rain snow, cold it didn’t matter to Willie. He never stopped waving. Said one local, “People didn’t know where Byram was, but if you said, ‘Waving Willie’, everybody knew where you meant.”

When the A&P opened he would sit in front of the store and greet the shoppers with a hello and a wave, then head on over to the Cranberry Market & Deli for more waving. He did this for nearly 40 years…. Willie didn’t do this his whole life though. He served in the army during WWII, and was a bartender and a firemen. What he loved the most was waving. Left hand was for northbound traffic, right hand for southbound. Sadly Willie collapsed from a heart attack and passed away in 2000.

chair

As if they had lost a member of their own family, a little memorial Was left in his honor where his chair sat in front of his home. part of that memorial is a giant hand on a flexible metal pole. When cars goes by on 206 it creates a gust of wind which makes the hand going back and forth, like the ghost of Willie, waving eternally to the cars as they go by….

gianthand

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by JD on April 1, 2017 at 11:45 AM

    RIP Willy! Thanks for the memories.

    Reply

  2. Posted by William on March 2, 2017 at 6:15 PM

    Since that 1970’s , I knew about and waved back at Willie. Sometimes we would turn around and go back by for another wave. In the ’80’s-’90’s, we would drive by, my daughters would say, THERE’S WILLIE. !!!! Then…..there. Was a red heart sitting on the chair where he used to sit. It was a sad moment. PS. I still BEEP when I drive by!!!

    Reply

  3. Posted by J.T. on July 20, 2015 at 6:10 AM

    June, 2015 – I drove by the memorial after reading about it. Everything is pretty much overgrown at the spot where it resides. Really sad. The ‘Waving Willie’ concrete marker is half buried. The house looks as if someone still lives there, but the memorial is quickly disappearing. There is no lawn chair there either. You have to look hard or you will miss the thing entirely.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Jim on April 20, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    Channel 9 did a story about him back in the day. He just wanted to spread good will and a little happiness.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Betty Meyers on January 20, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Curious what his real name was, and why he waved. The story 40 years ago, when I traveled that road, was tht he came home from the war with a head injury. It seemed very sad then (he was not so old then) but actually, if that was the case, he passed his life not institutionalized, but harmlessly passing the time by waving and greeting people. Sad that he was not able to do more maybe, but also good that there is a place in our world for those that are different.

    Reply

    • Posted by Deborah Gilkeson on May 29, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      To answer part of your question. His name was Bill Spranger. His family lived in Cranberry Lake fro years. Not sure if any of his relatives are still there or not. He was also a cousin of my father. I do not know why he always sat and waved to everyone. I’m guessing it was for his enjoyment.. But do not know for sure.

      Reply

  6. Posted by Bob on June 26, 2009 at 8:39 PM

    We all knew Willie and I still look at the empty chair whenever I pass his house. Lately (June, 2009) I’ve been noticing an elderly woman standing by Willie’s chair or leaning on the mailbox. She looks sad and very lonely, almost distraught at times. I almost stopped a few days ago but thought better of it, feeling that I might upset her in some way. It just concerns me that she may be in need and no one is there for her. I don’t know where I’m going with this, I guess just hoping that someone who would know the proper way to approach her and get her help if she is in need will read this and do something.

    Reply

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