Godspeed, Wally—and Thanks

I lost a friend last week. I hadn’t seen or talked with Wally in almost twenty years. Still, I thought of him as a friend. When he died on the Fourth of July, Wally was 86 years young. I think he would have liked knowing that he would pass into Heaven on a patriotic holiday. Wally was a proud, Korean War veteran—plus an all-around good guy.

We met at the publishing company where we both worked. I was a young editor and Wally worked as the liaison between my department and the printing plant. For a while, his office was next to mine.

He was old enough to have been my dad, and he was wise. Wally had a gentle way of sharing his wisdom, especially with the younger people on staff. He listened. He expected us to grow in maturity: to be true to our word if we said we would do something, to respect the needs of others, and to be on time.

I learned from him not only about the publishing/printing industry, but also about life. I felt drawn to him as a father figure, and sometimes I confided in him when I went through hard times. Wally was a man of integrity and faith. He encouraged me to trust God.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve thought often about Wally and the things I learned from him. I understand now that when I was young I was not so wise, although I thought that I was. I’m careful now when working with young people to teach gently rather than spew knowledge like a know-it-all. I’m a more responsible older adult because of Wally: I do my best to be true to my word, to respect the needs of others, and to be on time. I can almost hear him saying to me, “Keep the faith. Trust God.” I’ve done that. With each passing year and every hurdle I’ve learned to trust God more.

There’s a little bit of God in everybody, and God was certainly working through Wally. I am who I am today, in part, because of him.

God brings people into our lives for a purpose and sometimes only for a season. It could be years before we find out what we’ve learned from those people, but we do learn from them. Sometimes the lessons create happy, cherished memories, like those I have of my friend, and sometimes the lessons are painful—

But we learn.

Near the end of his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul wrote:

I think that Wally might have said something similar if given the opportunity to share some wisdom near the end of his life.

Like Paul, Wally was:

a role model,

a good guy,

wise,

and a man of God.

Wally, you walked with me for a while on life’s journey.
Godspeed now—and thanks.

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Do you have a “Wally” in your life? What lessons have you learned?

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1 Comment

Filed under friendship

One response to “Godspeed, Wally—and Thanks

  1. Cecelia Lester

    Jean: Yes, we all have a “Wally” in our lives. I have had several, One was a fine Christian lady who played the organ at a church my husband and I were in. She had wisdom and spoke kindly about many different things. She always made valuable contributions to discussions in Sunday school class. I know she is in heaven and is in that cloud of witnesses watching over ,me.

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