the old dock
by the lake place
a loon's retreat
Recently, we read the following:
NPR: “Homeless Man Leaves Behind Surprise: $4 Million”
"Every day on NPR, listeners hear funding credits — or, in other words, very short, simple commercials.
"A few weeks ago, a new one made it to air: 'Support for NPR comes from the estate of Richard Leroy Walters, whose life was enriched by NPR, and whose bequest seeks to encourage others to discover public radio.'
"NPR's Robert Siegel wondered who Walters was. So Siegel Googled him.
"An article in the online newsletter of a Catholic mission in Phoenix revealed that Walters died two years ago at the age of 76. He left an estate worth about $4 million. Along with the money he left for NPR, Walters also left money for the mission...
"Walters was a retired engineer from AlliedSignal Corp.; an honors graduate of Purdue with a master's degree; and a Marine. Walters never married, didn't have children and was estranged from his brother. But he wasn't friendless.
"Rita Belle, a registered nurse, met Walters at a senior center 13 years ago…
"Belle and Walters became friends. Belle stayed with Walters when he was ill. She became his nurse and ultimately the executor of his estate — as well as one of the beneficiaries — despite fundamental differences between them.
" 'He was an atheist and I'm a very profound practicing Catholic, and I'd never met an atheist,' Belle says. "And that just blew my mind that somebody could not believe in the Lord."
"Belle knew him as a very well-informed man ... She heard that he slept on the grounds of the senior center. He told her he ate at the hospital and used a telephone there or at the center.
" 'And I'm sure that's when he was making his trades and so on,' Belle says. 'He was involved in investing; we talked investments a lot.' Belle says Walters even did his own income taxes.
"When Walters retired, he evidently retired from the world of material comforts. He didn't have a car.
" 'He just gave up all of the material things that we think we have to have,' Belle says... 'I never heard him complain.' "
And we thought:
…Goodness from a most unusual source. It looks like, even without religion as a moral center, Richard Leroy Walters nonetheless was a morally-centered man. He saw the good in people and in groups that serve people. And he thought they were worth all the $4 million he had. He wasn't about to leave his $4 million to his trusty backpack in the same manner that that multi-millionaire matron from New York had left her millions to her trusty cat.
We don’t know how Mr. Walters finally decided his last act. But it certainly looks like it was about giving back to those from whom he received. And yet he apparently didn’t take any more from them than he thought he needed to get by. Talk about walking the good talk, even without the prodding of religion.
To paraphrase the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's (1932-2009) words: "The good endures."