There is a lonely granite marker in the cemetery for the poor in Chester on Darby Road.The name says Willie Brock. He was an Army veteran. He died seven years ago this month at age 81.
He died alone, except for his dog named Sandy.
Willie Brock chose his solitude and he never said much about his life to the few in Chester who knew him.
Nobody knew how he ended up in Chester, or where he came from. All most knew was he was a veteran.
The grave, with stone ordered by Chester veterans affairs workers because Brock had earned it through his service, is tended to often and flowers are placed there on by a family who never met Brock.
Jennifer Sexton and her family adopted Sandy after reading in The Heraldseven years ago about the wandering Willie Brock. A man walked the streets of Chester and rode the streets of Chester on a tiny scooter. A man who was befriended by a cop and a nurse and a preacher and the veterans affairs office and the coroner. A man who lived in solitude except for dogs named Sandy.
There were at least three dogs named Sandy over the years, maybe more.
I wrote about Brock because the wonderful few in Chester who loved him paid for his 2009 obituary to run in The Herald. The obituary said his sole survivor was Sandy the dog.
When Brock died, Sandy went to the pound, where Sexton rescued the dog . To this day, Sandy lives with the Sexton family.
I wrote about Brock’s death and Sandy’s adoption, I thought there was nothing left to tell. B the few who knew Willie Brock believed Brock had no relatives.
This past week the power of the Internet shared a different story.
There was an email from Heather Brock, a young woman from Missouri. She wrote that Willie Brock was her grandfather. She wrote that her mother never got to meet her father She wrote how her mother had been told all her life that her father died when she was young. was told the same thing, too.
Brock had been doing family research and found the story online about Sandy being adopted, and how her grandfather was buried so far away.
“If we had known he was alive we would have been there,” Brock wrote.
I called her.
Heather Brock said she had separation papers from when her grandfather she never met left the military. There is no doubt that the Willie Brock who died in Chester was her grandfather based on all the records and research, she said. She knows that the same man with the same name and same birth date is buried in Chester.
“I wish we knew something,”Brock said.
I told Brock that her grandfather’s dog, and the dogs before her, were all named Sandy.
“My grandmother’s name – Sandy,” Brock said.
The details of a severance so long ago, Brock said, remain unknown.
Sandy the dog remains known.
Every year before Christmas the Sextons put afresh poinsettia at Willie Brock’s grave. in the spring the family takes a new American flag.
Sandy the dog goes with them every time. She bounds out of the car and runs.
Sandy knows where to go. She goes right to the grave and waits there.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065