This morning I want to talk about experiences in Walter's life which I believe helped to bring him into the cultured, compassionate, deeply spiritual, profoundly musical and fun loving human being whom I was so fortunate to live with for 25 years and who enriched my life and who changed me in ways I never thought possible.
We are familiar with the story of Walter being awakened by his Grandfather at the age of six to listen to music on the radio from Thomaskirche one of Johann Sebastian Bach's churches in Leipzig. He was born into a cultured family whose love of classical music became planted in his consciousness at such a young age. His father played the violin with local groups and his mother also had a great love for classical music and encouraged Walter from a very young age. Walter had read most classical literary works before leaving Germany at the age of 12 that most of us read in college or not at all.
I often thought about and I was deeply moved by the fact that Walter at the age of six had to encounter real fear and isolation when Hitler came to power in 1933. He told me tales of being chased to his Grandmothers house by the SS and by his schoolmates and of being threatened by his teachers to the point when he could no longer attend the local elementary school. He told me how his Grandparents' business was smashed and destroyed on Kristallnacht and how they were saved because Walter was staying with cousins who lived in the Danish Consulate in Cologne. Walter and his brother Ralph were sent to live with relatives in the larger cities so they would not be as noticed as in the smaller towns. These changes must have been overwhelming for such a young child. Walter told me that the love of his parents and the closeness of his family and the care of close friends and help from therapists brought him understanding and strength to go on with his life. I believe his deep love for his first wife Charlotte and the birth of his three children Nancy, David and Peter completed the process of healing and allowed him to not only be successful in all his endeavors but to also reach out to others in need and be of help and strength to many people.
I was the fortunate one to meet Walter and live with him the last 25 years of his life. At the time of our meeting we were both experiencing deep sorrow from losses in our lives. We believed that we were not only a gift to each other but to live here on the Mendocino Coast surrounded by such beauty healed us in every way. During these early years together we developed a deep meditation practice, which continued, during our entire married life.
I must admit at first I wondered what this man is gong to do here in this small town of Elk having lived such an artistic life in San Francisco. I didn't need to worry about it for a minute. He immediately became involved with the Symphony of the Redwoods and through his Radio Program on KZYX he began to transform peoples understanding of classical music for the next fifteen years. Founding the Music Festival was something he cared deeply about but it was the Radio Program, which he felt, gave him the most satisfaction and which endeared him the most to his community. During the last couple of years when he was no longer able to work the Electronics Board at the Station, I could be with him and learn how to do it for him and sit with him while he did his program. Walter could walk into the radio station on the day he was to do his program and decide as he walked in the door what CD's he would play that day. His sense of programming was enormous and it came from playing programs with the symphony for 27 years plus his deep spiritual and intellectual knowledge of classical music, which started from such a young age. Sometimes the last couple year he had to take medication during the program and I would have to fill in for him with some text about the program so the night before I would say to him I have to know what you are going to play tomorrow. I can't just adlib for you. That of course was not to his liking but he cooperated. Soon after that he gave up the radio program.
Walter deeply loved his community. Not only was he an enormous gift to his community but also the people here brought him such joy and honor. No matter how ill he was the last year, his arms and his heart were always open to any one in need of comfort or a good laugh. He never lost his sense of humor and when things got tough he went into that quiet place of silence in his heart, which always brought him comfort. That silence which he would tell all us who would listen was the silence one hears after the last note of a concerto or a symphony. It was in that silence that our souls became One. The real silence where one can truly live.
© 2008 Polly Green
(home) (calendar) (info) (articles) (sponsors) (links) (bios) (reviews) (travel) (recipes) (projects) (photos) (art)Last updated 12/30/2008 (rge)