‘A ready wit and a dark sense of humor’

by James Dubro

I first met Bill Percy in the early 1990s at an afternoon high tea at the venerable Boston Atheneum library and museum on Beacon Street where he had been a longtime trustee. I was introduced by Joe McGrath, a longtime mutual friend, who told me that Bill was a very eccentric history professor and classics scholar at the University of Massachusetts as well as a very successful real estate entrepreneur and Boston landlord. At the time he was publicly offering a reward of $10,000 to anyone who could credibly “out” an American Catholic cardinal or a sitting US Supreme Court justice. I was intrigued by Percy as an older gay gent with his wild-eyed brand of gay activism at a time when outing anyone as gay was highly politically incorrect. But when I got to really know him over the years he was always a warm, gracious, generous gentleman with a ready wit and a dark sense of humor. He loved talking about everything from fresh perspectives and he had a voracious appetite for good racy gossip about friends and enemies. Since I live in Toronto and he in Boston he’d call me regularly the past few years about every week or so for a long talk. It was always a great delight to chat with him on the phone about politics, recent gay activist developments, Percy foundation business, and the lives & movements of our many mutual friends (increasingly of late to mourn recently deceased mutual friends who have been dying off at an alarming rate).

I shall very much also miss his great company and luncheons in Boston at his large, bookish, eclectically-furnished South End townhouse. But alas there will be no more fun chatty conversations. Rest in peace Bill – your life was indeed a blessing for many of us. You’ll be sorely missed.

One thought on “‘A ready wit and a dark sense of humor’”

  1. I was a plumbing contractor servicing Bill. At the end of the day at work where he was open to talk. I still have memories of the long conversations we had . He was warm, and friendly. He always stated that he was from the south. He’s stressed his Ivy League education. He , let you share your thoughts without judgemen. My son helped me with his work. He teases me about my business relationship with bill. That is his sexuality. We laugh. About me being a south end plumber. My son also listend to him and he got exposed to bill and his gregarious personality. Just a great guy. Just wanted to share my experiences with you. Good luck

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *