All posts for the month November, 2011

Walter Wambolt: an extraordinary life

Published November 25, 2011 by oddacity designs

Walter Wambolt takes a break

If there is one person in Bear River who deserves mention, it is Walter. Walter is an example of what a community really is.

Walter Wambolt is in his mid sixties. All of his adult life, he has been a village fixture and maybe even an icon. Because of his physical  impairments, Walter has never had a job, but he is the busiest man in town.

Walter has a routine. He has a list of people and places and things that he checks on daily, probably covering dozens of miles a day. He helps out at the Cherry Brook grocery, picks up and delivers mail for people who can’t get there themselves and makes sure the street lights are all working properly.

While Walter may only have completed a few grades of schooling (not uncommon back then) he is an avid reader and never misses the bookmobile’s visit to town.

Because of Walter’s speech impediment, it is difficult to understand him unless you have developed an ear for it.  This takes time and most people are happy to indulge in learning to converse with him.  Unfortunately there are some who don’t and we pity them.  Because Walter is a wealth of information.

Walter has an encyclopedic memory of birthdays.  If he knows someone’s birthday, he never forgets what day it is, and often he will phone or drop by with personal birthday greetings. He reads the horoscopes every day,  and if he knows your sign , he will alert you when something good is going to happen.

Walter knows who used to live in each and every house in Bear River and can tell you great stuff about the former inhabitants. And he has the most delightful and original nicknames for just about everyone he knows.

One of Walter’s many talents is his gift of mimicry.  Walter can do wonderful imitations of the people in town…his version of Harry Hill and Leslie Kennedy are smack on the nose.  Walter can sing and play percussion instruments incredibly well.  Walter is also a good man with a basic joke and if you tell him one, he will share it with the rest of the town.  Just ask him why there are no frogs in Bear River.

Walter used to ride a bicycle until his vision got too poor. This was no fancy bike but a old-fashioned-one-speed bicycle and boy, did he put the miles on it.  It wasn’t unusual for him to ride to Digby and back on top of his regular route around town and  out to Bear River East, and Clementsvale.   Those are some mean hills. Walter must have the best leg muscles in the world.

Walter is almost always upbeat and happy. He loves sweets. At any event involving food, Walter gets fed for free and always enjoys the desserts.  Walter is also a regular member of the Bear River Christian Advent Church and particularly looks forward to the men’s fellowship dinner one Thursday each month.  The Changing Tides diner puts together a man-sized stocking full of xmas goodies for Walter each year, which many people in the community contribute to.

Walter loves yard sales and likes to stock up on perfume and pantyhose for the women in his life. He lives with his brother Gary (and wife Susan) and is particularly close to his sister, Shelly.

Walter is the only person in town who received a special award from the Bear River Fire Department for all the help he has given over the years, without actually being a member of the Fire Department.

There are so many great things to say about Walter but it also says a lot about the way the people in Bear River are committed to his well-being.  One newcomer commented that he knew he had moved to the right place when he saw how important Walter was to the village.

He is a jewel in the Bear River Crown.

Oh yes, his birthday is December 18th…don’t forget it!