Dr Willie Wilson is a self made millionaire. Google his name and you will read the story of a man who traveled from New Orleans to Chicago, started working in fast food, amassed wealth, ran for president of the United States and is currently running for Mayor of Chicago. As amazing as his story is tragedy has not missed him. In 1995 his son Omar was murdered.
We spoke to Dr. Wilson about how his son’s death has affected him and how sharing his story during Father’s Day can help others cope.
Could you describe the circumstances around the death of your son?
One night I got a call at about 2 o’clock in the morning, I didn’t want to answer the phone. There was a certain ring about the phone and I sat on the side of the bed before I would answer it. Cause nobody really calls me at 2 o’clock in the morning unless its an emergency. So I pick up the phone and my ex wife now said that my son Omar had got killed and I said, what did you say, she said it again and I says o where you at. She said that he was at the house which he lived in and so I went right away and rushed over there. He got killed it was drug related.
A young man came into the house and he was over there to talk to Omar and he put a gun behind his head and then so my other kids was upstairs. Kenya my daughter and my other son were in the other room. She came out and she said what’s wrong Omar? Omar said go back in the room. She asked what is he doing with your arm behind your back? He yells run and then the guy pulls the trigger.
It’s a tough thing to see your child laying on the floor, dead with blood on the floor.
Who was Omar, who was he as your son as a person?
Well he was my oldest son. Omar had gotten in some trouble. He grows up, gets involved in drugs, fast money things of that nature. When he went to jail I wouldn’t get him out. He called me and said “Dad can you get me out of jail? Please get me out jail? get me out of here, get me out of here.” I said I’m not doing it. I figured if I would of got him out he would have been killed.
My ex wife calls me and my daughter calls me and I bow to the pressure of them to get him out. I pick up the phone I call my lawyer and had him out in less then a couple of hours. So he gets out, I was there, I talked to him I said let me get you a job can you go straight into a job an everything else, I said you got to get a haircut though. He didn’t want to cut his hair. I said if you want me to get you a job at McDonalds you got to be groomed. So he said I don’t want to do that. I told him I said look you need to work and he wasn’t hearing it. I told my ex-wife, he’ll figure it out but I said I got a bad feeling about this. I said less than a year or six months this kid gonna be dead. 6 months later he was dead.
How do you feel when holidays like Father’s day come around?
I’ve learned to not to think about it. I don’t even go to the cemetery to visit the grave. You don’t want to go back to memories. It’s a troubled feeling to lose a son or a daughter. It never leaves you, It never leaves you at all. Since it never leaves you you just kind of live with it and do the best you can to get by. In other words, when a daughter or son get killed and when they go down into the grave, it takes part of you with them. Part of you is buried in there with them
You are sponsoring a Father’s day event in Chicago. Why did you feel like it was important for you to be part of this Father’s Day event?
Well, people get different things out of it when you share your different experience. My son has been dead for 15 years and I can share things about how to get over it, if there is a such thing as getting over it. By sharing and talking with other they can say ok I see how he handling it.
Do you have any forgiveness for the individual that committed this crime?
In fact my daughter, identified him, locked him up, I got a call, they wanted me to come down to the court. I said no. I wouldn’t go, I forgave him. I was not bitter at all, we were taught to forgive. It was very unfortunate but I know other people that had the same experience that I had, so I learned not to be bitter.
Why do think it was important for you to forgive? Why do you think that forgiveness is such an important part of this journey?
If you don’t forgive it puts you in prison. It puts you in prison inside your body. A prison inside the body is worse than being in jail itself. That’s why I teach people to love because the thing about is if you don’t forgive somebody they got you in prison. You can’t think because you’re always mad about them. They done messed up your whole life. I don’t waste one second trying to worry about what somebody did to me. My life is meant for to move on and help those other ones out here who is going through things and help those people.