INWOOD — Will Alicea, a popular and respected Inwood artist, has died.
Alicea, best known as Will Teez for his line of neighborhood-centric clothing, died Wednesday in his Park Terrace East apartment after meeting with a group of family and friends, according to a friend.
He recently had said that the leukemia that he had been battling had returned.
After undergoing three rounds of chemotherapy, he chose to stop treatment late last year, saying he was committed to enjoying his life to the fullest.
Alicea's announcement that he was struggling with cancer gripped friends and neighbor's hearts last year. Nearly 400 friends and neighbors raised more than $25,000 to help Alicea with health care costs after he announced he was ill in July 2012.
Alicea, 40, told DNAinfo.com New York last year that was enormously grateful for the support and donations.
“I’m often moved to tears by it,” he said in August.
Friends began posting on Alicea’s Facebook page Wednesday after hearing news of his passing, writing words of gratitude for his remarkably optimistic and public way of dealing with his illness both in person and on his social media accounts, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
“On to the next one, Will - I'll miss your company, positivity and hope,” wrote friend and Inwood neighbor Graeme White. “You made a big difference, brother.”
"Inwood has always been a mystical place, but now we can count [Will] as one of the wood spirits watching over us," wrote Jennifer Lyne of the Inwood native who was a regular part of so many Inwood resident's everyday lives.
"Goodbye Will, and hello. We'll see you in the tops of the giant tulip trees, and when the tide comes into the salt marsh, and when we look into the strange darkness of the Indian caves. You'll be in our coffee cups in Indian Road Cafe, and resting in the teepee in the Nature Center."
A memorial service is scheduled for noon on Sunday, Jan. 20, at the baseball diamond on the Inwood Hill Park peninsula near the West 218th Street entrance to the park.
People are encouraged to wear Will Teez apparel to the memorial.
In the meantime, some found solace in Alicea’s recent words posted online as they mourned his passing.
“Cry well and as often as necessary my friends, your tears are the rain that cleanses the soul,” he wrote on Twitter on Jan. 9. “Peace.”