Even after William G. Hundley, 77, sold his Alexandria trash-collecting business, his routine never varied. He still rose about 5 a.m. and drove his red pickup to the Little Tavern Shops on North Washington Street, where he would order a black coffee and perhaps a sweet roll, and chat with friends.
Then he would head to the Fairlington Shopping Center, where he would help sweep up, and to Lindsay Cadillac to do odd jobs, such as filling potholes. He would spend the rest of the day taking small loads of trash to a dump, and he always returned to his house on La Verne Avenue, south of National Airport, in time to settle into a chair and watch his favorite television program -- the evening news.
On Friday, Bill Hundley died after he fell into a trash compactor at the Alexandria Transfer Station at 5301 Eisenhower Ave. He had been standing in the back of his truck, tossing a chair into the six-foot-deep compactor, when his glove snagged. He lost his balance and fell in, suffering severe head injuries. He was pronounced dead at Alexandria Hospital at 3:18 p.m.
"I don't know if it was just intended for him to go that way," Hundley's wife, Willie, 76, said yesterday. "He came home in the middle of the day on Friday, and I thought he'd stay because it was so warm outside.
"But, I looked again, and he was gone with the truck. He wanted to clean the trash out of it before Easter. So, this must be what God had planned. I believe that. And, my husband wouldn't want me to think no other way."
Yesterday, Hundley's friends and family remembered the gentle, religious man who almost always wore bib overalls and who liked doing nice things for people -- such as trimming hedges for neighbor Patsy Battle.
"The kids in the neighborhood loved him," said Battle, who had been friends with Hundley for 18 years. "They knew him as 'Mr. Hundley -- the one driving the red truck.' Everybody's going to miss him. He was a wonderful man, that's all."
"He was just a good guy," said Daniel Murphy of Daniel's Trash & Hauling Service in Alexandria. Murphy had known Hundley for 25 years and often ran into him on coffee breaks at the 7-Eleven. "We were in the same business. I never lost a stop to him. Some guys, they try and undercut you. He never did."
Yesterday, at the Beulah Baptist Church at 320 S. Washington St., where Hundley had been a deacon for many years, the congregation held special moments of silence at Easter services.
"He was a very good and confidential friend of mine for 35 years," said Arthur Nelson, a church trustee. "He and his wife personally gave money for our building fund, and through him, Lindsay Cadillac also made generous contributions."
"We were closer to him than to a lot of employes," said Terry Lindsay, owner of Lindsay Cadillac at 1525 Kenwood Ave., who has known Hundley for 32 years. "He was just like a member of the family. His value system and his integrity -- one of the best that you'll ever find."
Although Hundley mostly was seen driving around Alexandria in the red truck, he also was a regular Lindsay customer.
"He had a couple of Cadillacs," said Lindsay. "He took a lot of pride in them . The Cadillac was just for Sunday afternoon. The last one he had was black. It shone like a new dime all the time."
Friends also remembered how Hundley once won an award for tipping the Alexandria police to a bank robbery. As they rerecall, Hundley had been sweeping a shopping center parking lot about 8 o'clock one morning when he saw two men force a bank employe into a First American branch office. He ran to a phone and called police.
Hundley grew up in southeastern Virginia, in Southampton County, and he lived for a while in Norfolk before settling in Alexandria some years ago. He helped raise his sister's four children, as well as his three stepchildren -- Raphael Askew Jr., 48, Margaret, 50, and Ann, 37.
"It was just God's will," said Willie Hundley, "and we don't question His will. I thank Him for helping me to be this strong. I've got friends. I've got the kind of friends that is doing anything they can for me. Anything they figure I want done, they're here to help. My son is here, too, and the other children are coming tomorrow."