Bill Lyon established such a bond with his readers that retirement and illness can't sever it. The former Inquirer sports columnist's latest piece on his ongoing battle with Alzheiemer's disease and my accompanying account of how he composed it drew enormous reader reaction.

Here are a few of their emailed responses:

"I just had to express my compliments and well wishes to you for your fantastic article in last Sunday's paper regarding our old friend, Bill Lyon. He is my all time favorite sports columnist with Frank Dolson and yourself close behind. I recently turned 71 and give thanks each morning that I wake up, stand up and am able to live a normal life. May we never, ever forget Bill."  — Larry Derby, Langhorne

"I was getting teary by the end of your article in yesterday's Inquirer about Bill Lyon. He hasn't lost his sense of humor and I chuckled a few times reading his words. Thank you for sharing these pieces of what's remaining of Bill. I'll miss him." — Barbara Cicalese

"I had to drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed your lovely piece on Bill Lyon. I really hope the Inquirer editors submit Bill's series for a Pulitzer. It certainly deserves it. Bill is such a nice guy and wonderful writer. I watched him work his magic many nights in many press boxes and, as the slowest of slow writers, I envied his speed. " — Ray Didinger, NFL Hall of Fame writer and analyst 

"I was asked to speak at Ethel's services and my wife and I have been close friends with the Bill for decades. Your story on Sunday was moving as well as incredibly accurate. I often sat next to Bill at a fight, a football game, an award dinner, and your description of him writing in those environments was perfect. My wife and I wanted to send this note to you to thank you for your work on that article. I often wondered how someone so talented, so perceptive, so admired could be so humble on and off the sports stage. He has long been my role model." — Joe and Ruth Marrella

Bill Lyon and his late wife Ethel.
Clem Murray / Staff
Bill Lyon and his late wife Ethel.

"[Bill] is a Philadelphia treasure and his battle against Al should be inspirational to everyone who has read his decades worth of columns." — Larry Skvir

"I loved reading Bill Lyon. I still do. I love reading about Bill Lyon." — Fran Dunphy, Temple University men's basketball coach

"My father, who was a fan of [Bill Lyon], passed away three months ago at the age of 87. He always reveled in reading Bill's stories. He paid special attention to the last several articles Bill wrote detailing his struggles with Alzheimer's. I am also a big fan of his and, coincidentally, lived two minutes from him in Broomall before he moved. I would see him around town. Once, he signed his final byline from the Inquirer and penned a few words for my dad for a birthday gift." — Mike Cloran

Bill Lyon in November 2017.
Clem Murray / Staff
Bill Lyon in November 2017.

"I have been following Mr. Lyon's battle with 'Al' from the beginning, when he was still able to write his own story. I was heartbroken to read of his beloved Ethel's passing. As a healthcare worker with a special interest in neurology, I've seen my share of patients with Alzheimer's. Thanks to Mr. Lyon's words, I have a better appreciation for their daily, inner struggles. I am humbled by his resilience and stubbornness to prevail against whatever this hateful disease throws at him. Please, if you're able, let Mr. Lyon know I am rooting for him. 'Resist, persist, and don't ever give up.'" — Donna Campo

"Thank you for giving us such a gracious portrait of a man who for so many years made reading the Inquirer a daily requirement in order to revel in the way he wove words into something magical. We are privileged that Bill took a special interest in our family when he decided to mentor our son Michael in his quest to become a journalist. We know Mike has tried to emulate Bill in his columns and now we know he has someone else to admire and perhaps copy in yours." — Ann Marie and Chuck Sielski

"I don't know [Bill Lyon] but have been following his periodic articles on 'Al." I'm 84, well, and getting by without my wife of nearly 60 years who we lost to leukemia. Never looking for sympathy but I had to stop reading your piece twice to wipe the water from my eyes." — Peter K. MacEwen

"Thanks for your heartwarming coverage of Mr. Lyon. So sorry I never introduced myself to Bill. I worked in the circulation department for most of the time that Bill wrote and although I visited the newsroom a good number of times (both locations) and saw him on occasion, I just couldn't bring myself to say hi.† Truly sorry I never did." –– Jim Kilrain

Follow Bill Lyon’s ongoing fight against Alzheimer’s