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My friend Walter Backstrom | Letters
On any given day, you might have seen Walter Backstrom at Denny’s Restaurant in Federal Way. The manager and waitresses all knew Walter and would hear his enthusiastic laughter on most days, especially if he was planning on spending time with his daughter. She was his sole purpose for living.
I met Walter when he was umpiring baseball and fast-pitch softball with local youth teams. He was an imposing figure. He took control of the games. It was obvious he enjoyed supporting the kids. He was giving back to the sporting community. He was a very good high school athlete and played college football on a scholarship.
Walter would share his dreams with me frequently. He had written a book, “No Excuses,” which I believe sums up his life. He believed in the American dream of success. He believed that by hard work and education, you really could be anything you wanted to be. I heard him stress that many times with his daughter.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to be asked by Walter Backstrom to participate in a minority scholarship program at a local middle school that will allow minority students to go to Washington, D.C., next month. Walter wanted the kids to meet the president. Walter Backstrom cared about our youth. Walter always planned big.
Walter was excited about being a state delegate in the current political campaigns and was working toward attending the national convention. Walter Backstrom understood and was active in social, political, and local school issues. He recently had published articles in the Tacoma and Seattle newspapers.
I knew and cared for Walter Backstrom. He was a good person. I will miss him.
Underneath Walter’s appearance and behavior, I knew he was ill. You would never know it unless you were close friends. He was a proud person who was going through some hard times.
His passing will always remind me that sometimes people look OK and act OK, but you never know what a person is going through. I am glad that I was able to reach out to Walter Backstrom.
Robert Hale, Federal Way