Being a voice for the voiceless animals is more than a hobby. It is a lifestyle. A never-ending mission that is met with daily trials and tribulations. It is not done for recognition; it is done for the love of the animals.
One man in Pottstown, Pennsylvania spent the last 8 years of his life devoting each day to the needy and helpless animals in his community. Seventy-three year old veteran Bill Sharon, otherwise known as “The Cat Guy”, sadly passed away on August 6th after falling ill.
Bill was born in Pottstown and loved his hometown with all his heart. As the years went by, he lived life with a passion that cannot be learned or taught. His zeal for his interests was certainly contagious. In his youth, his passion was African Violets and Orchids which prompted his father to build him a greenhouse in their backyard.
Watching over his beloved town, Bill was even a volunteer for the town watch and citizen patrol. He was even named the “Person of the Year” by the Pottstown Rotary Club in 2011.
Since then, his focus turned to the homeless animals in the community that he worked tirelessly to revive. He hoped to make all of Pottstown animal friendly; hotels welcoming pets and even restaurants serving animal friendly food to furry visitors.
And this one man with the huge heart made huge strides to do just that.
In 2015, an article written by Marian Dennis, Bill fondly recalled how he began caring for cats.
“Twenty some years ago a black cat came in my yard and it became part of my family. Unfortunately it got poisoned and I had to put her to sleep. And then it just happened. I thought after that, ‘I want a cat,’” explained Sharon of how he started rescuing cats. “Then I had three cats, then four cats …They all have a story and it just happened. Then I started getting involved with people who are into animal rescues.”
“The solution is simple, he said: Get pets spayed and neutered. “If people say they don’t have the money, we can help them find a low-cost service,” he said. If someone wants to adopt a stray, always get it spayed or neutered. Communities benefit from cared-for pets, but abandoned animals and unwanted litters are a different story.”
When he was able to devote more of his time to these beautiful creatures, he co-founded the Pottstown Pet Fair, an annual event that is now going on it’s 8th year. Working with Cat NAPS, a local nonprofit organization, the goal was to get needy animals adopted out. The celebration has grown from a modest 400 person gathering to a staggering event-filled day with an estimated turnout of 5,000 people!
If organizing and working day and night to promote the event wasn’t enough, Bill also had a special talent that he used to help raise funds at events.
He was an amazing baker and his specialty breads would always be among the first items to sell out! Bill’s famous breads included Apple Cinnamon, Orange & Cranberry, Pumpkin and Mandy’s Pinneapple Jalepeno Cornbread with Lime Cream Cheese Drizzle.
This year, the event will be held on Saturday, September 15th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Memorial Park in Pottstown and in Bill’s honor.
Co-founder and canine counter-part, Karen Lewandowski says she spoke to Bill the Saturday before his passing. “I knew something was wrong. The spark seemed to be gone and he made me promise I would keep the pet fair going.”
“He always said he wanted to make Pottstown pet-friendly. He was the only person I know who got up and went to work with cat food in his pockets. Those cats would follow him around town because they knew,” she said with a laugh.”
“The Cat Guy’s” love of animals was present in every aspect of his life.
He had set up a feral cat shelter at his home and recently had been involved in organizing EcoFest, a festival to promote vegan foods and environmentally friendly activities.
Friends and family can look back at the 2015 article with warm hearts and fond memories of Bill’s words as they celebrate his extraordinary life.
“Right now my involvement in this is part time. When I retire, with whatever time God gives me, this is what I want to do. Trust me. I’m not interested in cruises, I could care less about a golf course, I could care less about sitting at a country club talking about my money and all that. There’s nothing in the world I want to see.
“Pottstown and the surrounding area is just fine with me. Whatever time I have left, this is what I want to do,” said Sharon.