Taps for Reb Walt
(Adapted by the author from Taps, the last call of the day, a fare thee well, played on bugle or trumpet at military funerals. Verses from Taps appear between double quotation marks.)
"Day is done, gone the sun" when, by day's end, we had said our goodbyes to Walter Wolf, beloved husband of Jo, devoted Jew remembered fondly by so many for his acts of kindness and generosity, United States Army veteran and friend to American military servicemen and women.
We became close friends, Reb Walt and I, over what were seven short years.
It was about three weeks since I had spoken with Reb Walt when I learned of his passing. He'd call me almost every Friday afternoon, around 4:00 or so, to wish me and my wife Heather a good Erev Shabbos and extend his message of love to his many other friends at Congregation Kesser Maariv in Skokie, Illinois.
Reb Walt was one of Comfort Inn's most welcomed of customers, remembered fondly for his warm manner, easy sense of humor, walking stick and Panama hat.
I would pick him up before morning services at 5:30 a.m and bring him back but not before we shared many a breakfast at what used to be called Bagel Country.
'Hey Walt, I guess you already know that Bagel Country was sold and renamed Emma's Bagel Café. I send you best regards from our friend Roman who works the cash register with whom you loved to chat. Remember?'
"He was my buddy too," Roman lamented, visibly disturbed when I told him of Walt's passing.
I heard Reb Walt's voice for the first time when Rabbi called Gershon ben Jacob (Walt's Hebrew name) up to the Torah. I knew from its sound Reb Walt was someone I wanted to call "friend".
As I have since boyhood, Reb Walt stuttered.
The kind of man who shared his life with you, with me. Sentimental, unafraid of manly emotions whose generosity, it often seemed, knew no limits.
We gathered with many others who loved thee, Reb Walt, "from the lakes, from the hills, from the sky" to thank you for making your life such a blessed part of ours. Goodbye my friend but fret not for all is well. Safely rest.
"Fading light dims the sight". The kind of man who would have mischievously said 'Mourn for me but only after I'm dead.' A lover of his bride Jo, Reb Walt actively lived life. He loved a good cigar, a glass of fine bourbon and, most importantly, the company of friends and family.
"And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near Falls the night.
Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars ..."
He who brings on evening gradually so that Man can adapt to darkness is the same watchman who turns the leaves of each man's book whether slowly or quickly, setting for each of us our length of days as He alone sees fit.
Remember us, Dear Walt. When for thee we look above "beneath the sky", we'll know in our hearts ... "God is nigh".
Alan D. Busch is a dear friend of the late Walter Wolf, United States Army (ret). Mr. Busch, whose father was Dr. Albert I. Busch, Brigadier General (ret.) United States Army, Illinois National Guard, is the Chicago Judaism examiner for www.examiner.com. He proudly submits this piece in memory and honor of Walter Wolf whose consistent custom (witnessed by the author countless times) was to thank American military service men and women for their service and treat them to coffee and donuts.
Read more: http://www.examiner.com/user-alandbusch