Thursday, December 04, 2008

Local Legend Passes On

There's a market about 5 miles north of here, an independent grocery store where the locals shop and go to meet their neighbors. It's called Peninsula Market, but all the old-timers call it "Walt's" I kept looking for a sign there that said "Walt's," but could never seem to locate it. Then they told me, "Walt's the guy who used to own it, before he sold it 5 years ago." Walt was famous out here - famous for his work in the community, at the market, famous for his generosity and caring spirit for all who came into his life's sphere. Just the other day one of the locals told me, " as a kid, getting a job at Walt's was the best job you could get. To get a job there was a great thing." So even though it hasn't been "Walt's" for 1/2 a decade, to most, it's still "Walt's."

I never got to meet Walt. He moved into an Alzheimer's unit 5 years ago or so, and many assumed he had passed away shortly after that. In actuality, Walt was drifting slowly from this life to the next. He died last Wednesday, on the eve of Thanksgiving. I was called on Saturday, asking if I would do the memorial service, as he (and his family) wasn't really associated with any particular church.

So here at the end I get to meet, and say goodbye to, a legend in the community. In one sense, I enjoy these funerals, because I get to meet so many old-timers, who know the hidden stories of the Key Peninsula community, who remember "way back when," and for a moment I get to feel like I'm a part of it. Mostly, I consider it an honor to stand up and speak for one who was so well-known and well-loved out here. Walt was a good man. Would that there were more of him in our world.

The service is Saturday, 12/6, at 2:00 p.m., at Haven of Rest in Gig Harbor, off Highway 16, overlooking the Harbor, the Tacoma Narrows, and, if the weather cooperates, Mt. Rainier.

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