ST. ALBANS — New School security guard William "Will Power" Gary was remembered Thursday in a packed Queens funeral home as a man whose friendship and caring attitude made him beloved by faculty and students alike.
Gary, 46, lay in an open casket wearing a black suit. Beside him was a heart-shaped flower arrangement with white orchids and a white dove.
Family and friends remembered a proud dad and a devoted fitness enthusiast with a warm smile and a genuine affection for people.
"If you couldn't do it he'd tell you, 'Will Power, Will Power,'" said his workout buddy, Devon, at the Roy L. Gilmore's Funeral Home on Linden Boulevard. "And you know what? It worked."
Devon was the last person to see Gary alive.
"I walked in when they was rolling him back," he said. "And [Will] said, 'I'm gonna be alright.'
"And when I left I said, 'You know, take your time, relax and I love you.' And I said, 'I'll see you tomorrow.'
"Tomorrow never came, but you know what? It did come in other ways. He's looking down on all of us sayings, 'Stay strong, remember my smile and carry on with life.'"
The New School community launched a fund-raising drive through the website GiveForward and has so far raised more than $24,900 for Gary's 10-year-old son, Adriel.
"If anybody and everybody could do one thing, he'd just want everybody to look after his son," Devon said. "Because that's all, all, all he talked about."
A coworker of Gary's for more than eight years spoke about how he impacted students at the school.
He read an email from an alumnus who graduated more than six years ago.
"I was a student at the New School, a freshman. And I walked through the doors at 12th Street and Will was the first person I met. He introduced me to all my friends. And they are my lifelong friends now. And Will is the reason why."
Gary's aunt remembered how loved he was by his family.
"William, we can never express the joy you have shown and given to us in life," his aunt, Jannia, wrote. "You're free to go, but never forgotten."
Gary will be buried Friday at 11:45 a.m. at Calverton National Cemetery in Long Island.