Essay tells about the man who left thousands of dollars to library

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 11, 2000

Monday, September 11, 2000

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Essay tells about the man who left thousands of dollars to library

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From Staff Reports

Austin Daily Herald

"I want to paint a portrait of Walter that is larger than life. He keeps pulling me back toward reality. His needs were basic. He was such a simple man. Yet he had such grace in facing darkness, such dignity.

"When I met Walter, he was dying of cancer. The humble farmhouse he lived in was the most peaceful home that I have ever been in. He had only two rooms on the main floor. There was no indoor plumbing, no carpeting, no frills. Walter had a very personal relationship to the things in his home. They were all things he used with regularity. There wasn’t one item placed there purely for the joy looking at it would bring to the spirit, yet the home was filled with a serene happiness …

"I learned from a neighbor who checked in on Walter regularly, that the house was one of the oldest in the county. It had a narrow, wooden spiral stairway that led to three small. low-ceilinged rooms on the second floor . I never saw the upstairs, but the neighbor told me that there was very little stored there. Walter sold what he couldn’t use and put the money in the bank. One of the rooms upstairs had a false floor where he hid some valuables, according to his neighbor.

"When I entered the home for the first time, I immediately felt that sense of peace and contentment that filled the rooms. Walter had all that he needed, and most importantly, all that he wanted. He was a happy man, who lived life on his own terms. The neighbor told me that Walter had a wonderful, clear mind: and that he usually got his way.

"Although there was tranquility in the spare furnishings, I know that if I lived in Walter’s house I would have to bring my rugs, candles and plants. I need to have softness in the things I surround myself with. Walter stared life right in the face.

"He also did this with his death. He was not afraid. He had lived his life the best that he could, and was ready for whatever the next chapter would bring. Walter didn’t belong to a church. Yet, I believe he was closer to God than many of us who attend church weekly. The only book in his home was a Bible."