The Secretary General of the Liberia National Olympics Committee (LNOC), has been described as the “Integral backbone and key” to the promotion and development of sports in the country.
Mr. Joseph F. Willie, popularly known as Bob Willie, despite his disability, remains the brain behind the LNOC, according to president Philipbert S. Browne said.
“Up to present, Bob Willie remains the secretary general of the LNOC, whose efficiency on the job has not been deterred by his physical disability,” the LNOC boss opined.
Browne said Bob Willie came into prominence as a sports administrator and as president of the Inter-School Sports Administration (ISSA). At the time, Browne was a director of sports for one of the schools that took part in the ISSA’s League.
Later, Browne became vice president of Liberia Basketball Federation (LBF) and then its president – and Willie, being then president of the ISSA was automatically a member of the Executive Committee.
And by virtue of their positions at the LBF and ISSA both men were executive members of the LNOC.
Bob Willie was the secretary and Browne was vice president for operations.
Then came a period when the LNOC was mired in confusion in which Willie served as the mediator, with the case finally settled with support with Olympic officials in Switzerland.
In 2005, Browne was elected president and Willie got the secretary general’s post.
Six years later, after building a vibrant, peaceable and answerable LNOC, Mr. Willie suffered from diabetes and one of his legs had to be amputated.
“Unfortunately, as the LNOC began to master its trade, calamity struck which almost brought the Liberian Olympic movement to its knees,” Browne said.
During the 2012 London Olympic Games, Willie was treated in an advanced hospital and after a month returned home in excellent health.
Having fully recovered, Willie traveled to Ghana and got a prosthetic leg.
“Bob returned home with his new leg and started to take steps. It was good seeing my Secretary General walking again, but apparently that was just the beginning of his trouble,” Mr. Browne noted.
Browne said: “That old devil wouldn’t leave Bob alone, putting him through hell to curse God and die, but that wouldn’t be the case.
“His faith as a Deacon at an Assembly of God Church was steadfast and would take whatever Satan would throw his ways.”
Few days after Bob got his prosthetic leg; his second foot had gone bad and was amputated.
“I rushed to the hospital the next morning, but the surgery had been completed successfully– this time I made a complete fool of myself because I looked at Bob Willie and cried bitterly.”