‘The Last Howlelujah Tour’ To Fufill Wili's ‘Barket’ List Kicks Off Monday

Twelve-year-old terrier mix Nawiliwili Nelson and Fr. Bill Miller

COVINGTON, LA – If you search an online dictionary for the term “bucket list,” what you will find is a definition noting, “a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.” While most relate this list to human desires, there is soon to be an exception when Wili begins what is being called “The Last Howlelujah Tour – Wili’s ‘Barket’ List.”
         On Monday, June 26, Wili and his master will take off from New Orleans headed for Las Vegas, Nevada, with many stops along the way, as a means of fulfilling Wili’s “barket” list.
         Wili, who is a 12-year-old terrier mix, has been the four-legged companion of Bill Miller for the past 11 years. Last November, Wili, whose full, proper name is Nawiliwili Nelson (a combination of Bill’s affection for Hawaii, where he lived for 10 years, and his home state of Texas, i.e. Willie Nelson) was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma and given only three months to live. Some seven month later, after surgery, chemotherapy and holistic medicine, Wili is still active, so he and Bill will take this last trip together as a way of spending as much quality time as possible.
         “I remember the day he got sick and was diagnosed with cancer,” Miller said. “I broke down and sobbed because Wili and I have this unbelievable bond. The purpose of this tour is to enjoy and appreciate the time we have to together and help others ponder the gift of life, the gift of God and the gift of Dog, which I believe is God’s greatest gift.”
         If Miller sounds a bit spiritual there’s a good reason – he’s an Episcopal priest who leads a large congregation in Covington, LA.
         Fr. Bill, as he’s affectionately called, is also a humorist author who has penned two books, “The Gospel According to Sam: Animal Stories for the Soul” and “The Beer Drinker’s Guide to God: The Whole and Holy Truth About Lager, Loving and Living.”
         “Wili loves to travel and the moment he sees a suitcase he just assumes he’s going somewhere,” Miller said. “I know my time with Wili is limited, so I thought the two of us would make one more trip. I had planned to travel this summer for book signings, so I just incorporated Wili into my planning, which currently includes stops and events in 16 cities.”
         Miller and Wili will leave New Orleans, one of Miller’s two favorite cities in the U.S., and meander through Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and end the tour in Las Vegas, NV, Miller’s second favorite city in the U.S.
         Along the way, Miller has been invited by churches, book stores and even one brewery to host talks and book signings. His first book, “The Gospel According to Sam,” is a collection of 30 animal stories for the soul. The book is dedicated to Fr. Bill’s Airedale, Sam, a lovable, "wounded healer" who survived a house fire that burned off his ears but couldn't extinguish his spirit.
         Critics said even though there are some thought-provoking reflections in the book, the chapters will have you laughing out loud. Among them are “Dog Spelled Backwards,” “Bite Me” and “A Lighter Shade of Tail.”
         Fr. Bill’s humor continues in his other book, “The Beer Drinker’s Guide to God,” where you will find chapters titled “Brewed Over Me and Distill Me,” “O Lord, Chicken Soup for the Hooters Girl’s Soul” and “WWJD: What Would Jesus Drink?”
         Wili is featured in the Beer Drinker's Guide as his adventures, and inadvertent spiritual insights, are captured in a story devoted entirely to him and titled, “My Wili.”
         In addition to enjoying time together, as well as barbecue at each stop (Wili’s favorite) both are eager to meet up with special people and critters along the way. Fr. Bill and Wili also hope to raise awareness about animal rescue. Some of Fr. Bill’s talks will incorporate fundraising for animal rescue organizations in the cities they are visiting.
         The Last Howlelujah Tour kicks off Monday, June 26, at Abita Brewery, 21084 LA-36, in Covington, from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Miller will share a few stories and sign books starting at 5:45 p.m.
         Attendees will enjoy $1 off Turbodog pints, and there will be donation opportunities for the St. Tammany Humane Society.
         Fr. Bill and Wili’s full travel schedule includes:
Monday, June 26            Abita Springs, LA
Friday, June 30               Houston, TX
Saturday, July 1              Tomball, TX (A.M. hour)
Saturday, July 1              College Station, TX (P.M. hour)
Sunday, July 2                College Station, TX (A.M. hour)
Monday, July 3               Austin, TX
Tuesday, July 4               Salado, TX
Wednesday, July 5          Corsicana, TX
Thursday, July 6             Dallas, TX (P.M. hour)
Friday, July 7                 Dallas, TX (A.M. hour)
Saturday, July 8              Tulsa, OK
Sunday, July 9                Oklahoma City, OK
Monday, July 10             Lubbock, TX
Wednesday, July 12         Cloudcroft, NM (Noon); Almagordo, NM (P.M. hour)
Thursday, July 13           Albuquerque, NM
Friday, July 14               Flagstaff, NM
Saturday, July 15            Las Vegas, NV
Sunday, July 16              Las Vegas, NV
         To follow The Last Howlelujah Tour: www.facebook.com/williammillerauthor