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First published Sunday, September 26, 1999.  Page 1, Carroll County Times, Carroll County, Maryland.


`What to Do When the Police Leave'
Father writes guide after his son's death

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By KEVIN GRIFFIS
Times Staff Writer
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When William Jenkins, 16, walked out the rear entrance of a suburban Richmond, Va., restaurant at the end of his second day at work in August 1997, a 23-year-old assailant put a gun to his neck and told the teen-ager to get the manager to open the door.

William did as he the man demanded, and the manager opened the door.

Then the gunman fired. William was killed instantly.

Later that night William's father, Bill Jenkins, a professor at Virginia Union University, received a call from police asking him to come to William's home. The boy lived with his mother.

``When I got that call, I knew that William was either in the biggest trouble of his entire life or that he would not be there,'' Jenkins said.

That call, in retrospect, marked two beginnings - the beginning of Jenkins' life without his son and the beginning of the book ``What to Do When the Police Leave,'' a resource meant to help people cope with the sudden loss of a family member.

Jenkins, a South Carroll high school graduate and a 1979 graduate of Western Maryland College, said the self-published book's first edition of 500 copies sold out in five or six months.

The second edition of 6,000 copies is due in bookstores next month, he said.

``What to Do'' deals with practical matters - from dealing with unexpected funeral arrangements to insurance matters - one might encounter upon the sudden death of a loved one.

Jenkins started writing the first edition about six months after his son's death, he said.

An unexpected death of a loved one ``throws you into a period of shock, and you need guidance,'' Jenkins said.

Most of the books on the market that offer such guidance, however, suffer from an unavoidable disadvantage, he said.

``They are generally written by therapists,'' Jenkins said. ``They are very caring people, but the reader can't identify with the author, can't look at them as anything less than a professional.''

Jenkins said he wanted his book to be a ``heart-to-heart'' with someone who had been through a tragedy.

It was not easy to write.

``After I was about halfway through it, I realized what I was doing to myself,'' Jenkins said. ``Every day I was dealing with the one thing in my life that I did not want to think about.''

People close to him, though, told him to keep writing, assuring him that it would be an important book, so he persevered, he said.

The decision to publish the book independently sprang from a desire to keep the price of the book down. When Jenkins went looking for books to help him through the process of getting used to being without his son, most were in the $16 to $18 range, he said.

By publishing the book himself, he's able to charge about $11 per copy, and give discounts to groups, such as funeral homes or victims' rights groups, that buy multiple copies, he said.

In addition to the book's attention to immediate, practical matters - such as the chapter ``Eight things you need to know right now'' and sections about dealing with funeral homes - Jenkins' work also deals with grief.

It's an emotion he dealt with while writing the book. And he said he still deals with it on a daily basis.

``I guess I am as healthy as I can be,'' Jenkins said. ``I miss him every single day. It's not like he's gone off to college; he's gone. I must learn to live with an undercurrent of sadness - not depression - the rest of my life.''

More information about ``What to Do When the Police Leave'' can be accessed at www.willsworld.com .

The above text is excerpted in its entiretly from The Carroll County Times.  All copyrights and licenses remain the property of the publisher.

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