Its not every day that you get to meet someone that has lived 100 years. In my current profession, I have met 1 or 2, but none that have left such an impression on me as Walter Scolney.
Walter was born March 14, 1911. He passed away April 6, 2011. Walter lived to be just over 100 years old... during these 100 years, he never let his youth leave him. He lived his life in a way that made others smile. While I was only privileged to know him for the last 3 years of his life, he made a lasting impression on me.
I was privileged to provide in home primary care for Walter during the past 3 years. He was my favorite patient. I know that I'm not supposed to have favorites, but there's no denying it -- he was my favorite.
Walter was originally from Germany. He came to the United States in his early 20's fleeing the Nazi regime. He came to the US and pretty much immediately, even before he was a US citizen, fought in the American Army in WWII. Upon his death, found in his wallet was a small copy of his honorable discharge from the United States Army --service he was obviously and rightfully proud of. During his time in the US Army, he listened to the Germans over the radio devices used in the war and would translate what they were saying to the Americans. Pretty cool, huh?
Walter's service to our country is impressive. He loved America and was so thankful for what it provided for him. Most impressively, though, was Walter's love of life. In the 3 years that I knew him, he could barely see, was quite hard of hearing and could walk only with the use of a walker. Despite these (and other) challenges, he was happy.
At his funeral, his grandson told a story about how Walter, in his 90's, joined his great granddaughter in laying belly down in an office chair and spinning around.... that story pretty much sums Walter up... he had fun and made others smile.
Although I was not able to be with Walter as I had hoped at the very end of his life, I do hope that I was able to help him some in his last years on earth. One thing is for sure -- HE helped me, helped me gain perspective on life and helped me learn to see the bright side of a not so good situation. He could always bring a smile to my face and cheer me on a gloomy day. Every time I visited him in his apartment, which he still lived independently in, he would offer me a glass of OJ... what I would do to take him up on a glass of OJ today.
Walter, I will miss you so much. Thank you for being you and for enriching my life. In my opinion, even though you were 100 years old when you passed away, you were too young. I will never forget you.