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One of my favorite Irownworkers of all-time passed away over the weekend. The world lost a good man in Billy Phelan.

As a kid on Saturday mornings the Gooch would take me down to Timboo’s on fifth avenue.  I’d always see Billy either in the bar or out on the corner with the others talking it up.  Oh yeah, in case you were wondering,  the Gooch was my father.

Billy always said hi to me and would rub my red, curly hair.

Billy Phelan with other Ironworkers

I was thrilled to death a few years later when, on my first Irownworking job at the age of eighteen I was on the same job as Billy. He was pushing a raising gang for Canron down in Battery Park.  He had a heck of a crew including Phil McNiff, Tommy Walsh and Walter Duma.

I was nervous as shit but Billy put me at ease.

I’d watch him every chance I could. There were mornings I was hoping that Billy would ask me to join his gang as the ‘Tag-line’ guy but that wasn’t happening because those guys didn’t take any days off.

He was directing, shouting, and of course, cracking jokes. Billy had that rare leadership trait of getting the most out of his workers.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of Billy’s friends and family.

Rest in Peace Billy…

-Steve

Hoops135@hotmail.com