Franco and Billy

Bonnie Boerema

© Copyright 2018 by Bonnie Boerema

Photo of three old guys.

The first week after we moved to Southwest Florida, Kenny joined Marco Island Fitness Club. The

owner, Bob, introduced him to Franco, another retired cop from Chicago. Franco was the head of the

Homicide Division in Chicago. They hit it off immediately. Another friend he met was Billy from New

Jersey, a sweetheart of a man, with a crazy sense of humor, a real character, and totally uninhibited. A

funny guy, who makes everybody in the room laugh. The three of them together started being great

friends and buddies. They had a lot of fun together, with a great camaraderie between them.

It wasn’t long before we were invited to Billy’s condo in Marco for dinner, and met his girlfriend,

Brenda. The three buddies started going from the club to the Sand Bar Sports Bar for breakfast every

Friday. In the last three years, the three of them have been very good for each other. Kenny would come

home in the best mood.

Kenny and Franco are both pranksters, and were always playing tricks on Billy. One time Kenny took

Billy’s car keys, and moved his car around to the back of the club. When Billy came out, he was hunting 

for his car. One time he smeared bright red lipstick on his neck, hoping Brenda would see it.

Billy called him when he got home, absolutely livid, and angry enough to pinch his head off. They

were always pulling a fast one on him, making him pay for their breakfasts on Friday.

Franco invited us to have our first Thanksgiving dinner with his friends and him, two months after

we moved to the area. At Christmas time, Crystal, one of Franco’s friends invited us to her Christmas

party. It was fun, with drinks and a lovely meal. Franco did open some doors for us socially in Marco 

Island. We met some very nice people.

Franco was in his mid eighties, and had Diabetes, but it didn’t stop him from doing all the things

he loved. He still dated Carla, who was a few years younger than him. They went to all their favorite

restaurants, as both were Italians. Franco was in his mid eighties, but he didn’t think old, or act old. He

had led a very active lifestyle all his life. He and his first wife used to go dancing six nights a week.

Years ago, he was the driver for the Rat Pack. He’s very charming, likes women, and a gentleman. In

June of 2016, his doctor told him he had Leukemia, put him in the hospital, and started him on Chemo

medications. The pills were very strong, with many side effects. Franco started taking only one pill

every other day.

The days he took a pill he’d get dizzy, and experienced diarrhea, stomach, and other intestine disorders.

The remainder of 2016, he stayed active and busy, with many good days. 2017 was much the same. He

worked out at the Fitness Club three times weekly, had breakfast most mornings at the Red Rooster

Restaurant, in the shopping center off Barfield and San Marco Rd. in Marco Island. He and Carla 

continued dating, and they seemed to be good for each other.

In 2016 and 2017, Billy started having health problems, Prostate Cancer and heart problems. Most

weeks he’d call Kenny, saying “He wouldn’t be at the fitness club, or breakfast because he had a

doctor’s appointment, or a health procedure. Billy’s in his eighties, but a very funny guy, who makes

everybody in the room laugh. He lets it all hang out. He and Brenda were very good to me in 2015,

when I fell jogging on our sidewalk. I came across the pavement, tripped over a rough edge of sidewalk, 

shattered and broke my Patella, (kneecap). Brenda formerly owned a German restaurant

in New Jersey. She’s a great cook. Billy brought over food to us three or four times while I was

immobile, couldn’t walk, and felt totally helpless for seven weeks. It meant a lot to me while I was


The three of them each have Spring birthdays. Kenny’s is March 14, Billy’s is April 20, and Franco’s

is May 2. Every year they get each other funny birthday cards, and gag gifts. They call each other

daily to check up on each other. Franco and Billy have really missed Kenny since he joined a new

fitness club, and they don’t see him as much as they used. Billy even started up a jar of money to lure

him back. But they keep in touch with him several times a week because they’re best buddies. Franco’s

been having some rough days the past month of two. But being a retired cop, like my husband, Kenny,

they’re both tough men, who have survived many things in their lives, I pray he’ll lick the Leukemia.

I love Franco and Billy myself, and I’m very thankful they came into our lives, and what they’ve meant

to Kenny.

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