Aretha Franklin's late partner passed away after hiring COVID-19
Deceased singer-songwriter Aretha Franklin lifelong partner William Wilkerson , who is also known as Willie Wilkerson Jr ., it's no more. He passed away after contracting the new coronavirus.
The Vietnam War veteran, who had been a constant companion to Franklin, widely called Queen of the Soul, until her death in 2018, died on April 8 of COVID-19, her relatives confirmed.
Wilkerson was admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 symptoms on March 30, according to family members. He died at Ascension Providence Hospital in Rochester. Other details are not currently available.
Her daughter Tanya Wilkerson-Thompson published a tribute in Facebook : I know that most of you were praying for him and our family and I want you to know how much we appreciate you. If you ever knew him or knew him, you know how full of life he was. There was my hero, my father and my friend. I appreciate every memory of him.
Willie, a retired firefighter, met Aretha in the late 1980s after he sat in the front row at one of her concerts. Their friendship began when they learned that they both had apartments in the same town. Soon their relationship turned into decades of intermittent romance.
She had also accompanied Franklin to multiple events and the highway manager on her bus tours across the country after she developed a fear of flying.
They got engaged again in 2012, after several canceled nuptials. Later that year they decided that they would not marry, but would remain close friends.