How Would You Describe Your Best Friend?
James L. Casale
How do I describe my best friend on Earth, Billy Cook? It was initially easy to bond with Billy when we met at Camp Geiger while serving our country in the USMCR in the early 60s. We had a lot in common. Bill and I had Italian blood in our veins, and we both grew up in Westchester County, New York.-Billy in Yonkers and me in Harrison. Though both of us are considered good-looking, Billy wins hands down. And how can you not love a guy who makes you laugh, loves motorcycles, knows how to bartend, loves boxing, and stays in shape?
I’m considered funny, but Bill is more amusing. Besides having a great sense of humor, he is an impressionist. He taught me how to mimic Marlon Brando in the Godfather, and he is so kind; he tells me it’s better than his, but it isn’t. I dare you to find anyone who can imitate Stan Laurel better than he can. I have heard it a thousand times, but it still cracks me up. Our bonding didn’t stop there. We loved motorcycles.
In the early 80s, I lived out my boyhood dream of owning a motorcycle. Bill wasn’t a particular enthusiast, but he loved his friend and bought one. We had many weekend adventures together riding to Marcus Dairy in Connecticut with our other pal, Mike Fraioli.
Bill is described by his wife, Diane, as a Tom Cruise bartender. He wowed the ladies with his humor, charm, wit, and movie star good looks. During his stint as a bartender, he met the love of his life, Diane Nardone. They dated briefly, then much later, rediscovered each other, and eventually married in 2013. I always wished I knew him while growing up because we each had a family member who loved boxing.
Billy was attracted to boxing because his grandfather was a boxing promoter. He is still a big fan today; he admired Muhammed Ali, especially since he met him in person in his friend’s restaurant. He has a picture of the great Carmen Basilio in his room.
Mr. Bill, as he is often called by Diane, always stayed in shape by being a member of a fitness center. He was in such good condition that he decided to run in the USMC Marathon in Washington DC in 2004. This momentous event was attended by Diane, her sister Janice and her partner, Ritchie, and his best pal and his best pal’s wife, Janet. We had a great weekend together. After his retirement, he studied to become a personal trainer. He landed a job at a fitness center in Mamaroneck, where he helped other people get into shape. But what about his younger days.
Billy was born in the Bronx but grew up in Yonkers. St. Michael Academy educated him first, and later, he attended Fordham University. Bill’s career path took him to the field of finance. He became a financial advisor and helped many secure their financial future with his expert advice.
Bill has always been a devoted friend to many. Friendship is defined by loyalty, love, devotion, empathy, kindness, and respect. Billy has these qualities and demonstrates them daily as a husband, brother, uncle, and friend to all who know him. God Bless him always.
NOTE: Bill is in a long-term care facility. I was asked by his wife to write this for their newsletter)