AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - This is a story about a man and his dog.
“His friend and his partner, who still stands on guard for him today,” said Forces United Deputy Director Don Clark.
William “Bill” Fogal and Tic Tac - virtually inseparable until the very end. The pair was homeless and living in a Ford Explorer.
The 74-year-old Vietnam veteran passed away at the VA hospital while his dog underwent life-saving surgery. Fogal’s son, Randall J. Rockefeller, met him once 30 years ago. He learned the news just days ago.
“I just know he’s always yearned to know his dad. He always wanted to know where he’s at, is he still alive, no one in the family knew where he was at," explained Kyair Ivey, Rockefeller’s girlfriend.
Wednesday, dozens of people honored his life at Pierce Memorial United Methodist Church on Jackson Road. Forces United facilitated the memorial service and got the word out about it to some family members who traveled to Augusta from Tampa, Florida.
In a letter, Fogal’s sister - Kathy Seavey - wrote he was a ‘curious tinkerer’. He patented Fogal’s Charge Barrier Semiconductor - a device he claims sends and receives electromagnetic waves faster than the speed of light.
Fogal was also a volunteer firefighter in Columbia County for about a decade. His colleagues remember his love for his invention.
“We heard about that every day. The day that he pulled up in that brand-new explorer that they talked about, I was working at our station at the time. He pulled up in it, he was proud. He actually loved life,” said Columbia County Fire-Rescue Captain Robert Yahn.
Seavey said Bill turned down a lot of money from people wanting to buy that special transistor. A company in California tried to entice him with an SUV - that same car he lived his last days in.
Rockefeller said his dad left an impression in life but his legacy became more profound after death.
“I’m sure there are numerous others in the same situation, homeless veterans. They all have stories, if we would just take the time to reach out and help them,” Rockefeller said.
Hopefully, before it's too late.
Fogal leaves behind his 45-year-old son, a 10-year-old grandson Tristan Rockefeller, his sister, Kathy Seavey who lives in Washington State and other loved ones. His son says a 23andMe test recently linked him to his father’s side of the family. Family members tell him Fogal is the distant grandson of John Jay, the First Chief Justice of the United States.
Fogal’s dog, Tic Tac is currently up for adoption. He’s at CSRA Forgotten Souls - a local dog rescue.