Behind golden-voiced Ted Williams is ex-wife Patricia Kirtley, the story's real hero
LaPrete for News
Patricia Kirtley raised her and Ted Williams' four daughters, as well as one of the children he had with a druggie girlfriend.
A viral video vaulted Ted Williams and his golden voice to fame, but the real hero of this story is the woman he left behind.
Patricia Kirtley raised four daughters alone after Williams split 23 years ago and dove down the rabbit hole of drugs.
Not only that, Kirtley took in the baby boy the radioman had with another woman and raised him as her own.
Oh, and by the way, she's partially blind.
"We survived," Kirtley said Thursday in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. "My children are survivors. They know if we get a little bit that God provides, we make it into a lot. I'm a soup maker. I make potato soup and throw in a lot of vegetables and a little meat. We always ate."
Except that Williams, who seems to be a nice guy, just wasn't strong, wasn't around and wasn't contributing financially.
Kirtley had to go on the dole. "I still remember my case number," she says ruefully. She eventually went to school and got licensed as a blind vendor.
"My mother and sisters pitched in and drove me because I can't see to drive," said Kirtley, now 58, over a din of some of her 16 grandchildren playing.
As if that weren't enough, Kirtley said two of her sisters and a cousin each took in a child Williams and his druggie girlfriend couldn't, or wouldn't, care for.
"I didn't want to see those children in no foster home," she said.
Exactly. It's an all-too-familiar story to the strong members of poor communities - usually women. They are the ones who must provide the backbone, as well as the hugs, for children whose parents get hooked on drugs.
Williams called once in a while, and Kirtley would hear that baritone voice she fell in love with at first sound. They stayed friendly, and he might come for Thanksgiving dinner, but otherwise, he would remain AWOL.
Daughter Julia Pullien, 30, said she was 7 when Williams left.
"He wasn't involved," she said. "Our mom was our sole provider. She is a more than phenomenal person. My father is a nice guy, but he fell victim to the streets. We prayed for him and we worried about him, but we became accustomed to the fact that he just wasn't there."
Kirtley said the kids felt some resentment.
"They didn't understand why he was never there for their school functions, or just to help with their homework," she said.
"That's when I really could have used help, because I couldn't see their pages. My kids are really good readers, though, because I made them read everything to me out loud."
They're grown now, with jobs and kids of their own.
Maybe Williams can redeem himself personally as well as professionally.
Maybe he can be there for his grandchildren in ways he could not for his kids.
Still, all the credit must go to Kirtley, the woman who truly deserves the fame her ex has been getting the past few days.