Characters of downtown Durham: The man with 17 children | Soapboxer

Characters of downtown Durham: The man with 17 children

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Willie, the father of 17 children - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • Willie, the father of 17 children

"Hey, I got a story."

Willie got up from a bench and swaggered across the pocket park at Mangum and Main streets in Durham. He wore a coat embossed with yellow, red and green outlines of Africa. He smiled as he approached me at the corner, where I had been chatting with another man, Larry, who had been pushing a shopping cart full of aluminum cans.

"OK, what's your story?" I replied.

"I have 17 children."

"By the same woman? I hope not, because I would feel sorry for her."

"By four women. Seven by one, then four, three and three. I even had three kids in the same year: January, March and December."

"Do these women know you have so many kids?"

"Sure, they all know before they get involved with me."

"It must be your smile. Can you name your kids?"

[Willie proceeds to list the names of his children, who all have Biblical Hebrew names.]

"How do you provide for them?"

"Me and God provide."


Lisa Sorg is the editor of the INDY. Her blog documents life in the Triangle through photographs and stories.


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