QuadW’s mission, culture, aspirations, and goals are all a reflection of Willie Tichenor

William Evans Tichenor May 15, 1986 - March 15, 2006

William Evans Tichenor
May 15, 1986 - March 15, 2006

Willie was raised in Dallas, TX and attended Highland Park High School and the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. He was an active member in his church’s youth group, (his parents will tell you that Willie was a little bit of a handful as a younger child, but he grew up a lot through his participation in mission trips), performed in theatre productions and sang in choir, was an avid snowboarder, and played drums and sang lead vocals for his band, CloverStreet.

Willie was a charmer with a broad smile that often crept up when you talked with him.  He was a loyal friend, a talented musician, and a committed giver to those around him. Willie was fiercely intelligent but also wasn’t afraid to moon someone for a quick laugh. He enjoyed giving to his community in various capacities. As a UT student and member of the Iron Spikes organization, Willie noted, “I can’t wait to get my hands on the Spikes’ philanthropy, because I think we can do better”.  

During a college assignment, he was challenged to write a road map for his life. Willie’s roadmap outlined what was most important to him (friends, family and band mates), and the places that inspired him (Wyoming, the beach, his grandparents’ ranch, and downtown Dallas). Most teenagers have a spot they like to hang out with their friends.  For Willie’s group, that spot centered around wherever he was. 

For three months during the spring of his junior year of high school, Willie went to various doctors to try to identify a pain in his leg. The night of his first CloverStreet concert, Willie discovered a lump above his knee. Osteosarcoma had invaded the Tichenor family’s reality.

Over the next three years, Willie endured 12 surgical procedures, 32 intensive chemotherapy treatments, 12 blood transfusions, and 17 hospital stays. During the same time frame, he also graduated from high school, made a road trip to Florida with his friends during spring break, got a job with his church, performed with his band at the South by Southwest Festival, rented his own apartment, led a church youth group mission to build houses in Juarez, Mexico, and attended the University of Texas. On the mission trip to Mexico, a friend asked him how he was able to push his body physically during the construction process. Willie’s response was, “because I love the feeling that I get when I make a difference in someone else’s life.”

Throughout this incredibly challenging time, his family and friends stayed by his side. But it was an easy thing to do, because Willie’s optimism and strength were contagious. Most of the time, his friends had no idea how Willie was suffering. Willie was engaged in life - he wasn’t naive or in denial, but he didn’t want to waste any time bemoaning his fate.

Before Willie left for college, CloverStreet held one last gig. More than 250 people attended the final performance in June 2005, which Willie fondly remembered for his tight jeans and as the “end of a beautiful chapter in his life.”

Willie did everything possible to survive, and everything possible to live his life. He was a good patient, took every opportunity available to him, and kept hoping for a new treatment. But, eventually, Willie ran out of options.

During his final weeks, Willie was surrounded by the people who he loved, and who loved him. The Tichenors’ home became a nest for all of his friends and family that wanted to be near Willie and share his final days. It was a time filled with tears, laughter, unimaginable goodbyes, and reflection.

Then, unthinkably, it was over. Willie died on March 15, 2006.

We can do better

Possibly just a picture of Willie and his friends

Cancer was Willie’s death, but it wasn’t his life. When he knew his time was up, he asked his parents to help others find new and less toxic treatments for patients like him, and to take care of his friends. One of Willie’s unique characteristics was his ability to bring people together. Through Willie’s charge to his parents, QuadW was formed, and once again Willie brought people together.

Willie’s story is particularly compelling because he left such a legacy after only 19 years. He had a fun, caring and passionate nature as well as a love for helping others in any way possible. The foundation’s name means “What Willie Would Want,” or QuadW.  The board is dedicated to achieving what Willie would want, because they know “we can do better.”