Wendell Gill has worked at the same Lexington, Kentucky, McDonalds for about 43 years, since before he and his wife adopted their two special needs grandsons. In 2016, the Herald-Leader wrote a feature about his affable nature and work ethic. But last August Della, his wife of 68 years, died. Since then, at 85, he has been mourning his wife, caring for his two adult grandchildren, and still working several days a week at McDonalds to make ends meet. When his friend Todd Oldfield, 56, came for a breakfast sandwich and asked "how's it going?" Wendell told him the truth.
Photo of Wendell and Todd (by Frank Goad)
A few weeks ago, Todd set up a GoFundMe headlined "Wendell Needs Us to Serve Him Now! He's 85 and needs to retire." GoFundMe donor Stephanie Baker wrote, "We used to go to McDonalds as children and still talk about Wendell to this day. Such a sweet soul." In just 12 days, the GoFundMe raised more than $32,000 for Wendell's expenses. One person offered to buy a headstone for Della, which Wendell could not afford. Another family has offered to sponsor Christmas for Wendell and his boys. "They really care," says Wendell, "and I care too."