Although not a ham, Walt Mathers exemplified the ideals we strive for in public service and fascination with technology, how things work, and making old things work again. Walt was our initial contact with the NS Savannah and helped us host one of the larger Jamborees on the Air, personally providing tours to over a hundred Scouts and a similar number of family members each year.
The note below is from Erhard Koehler, the ship's administrator for the NS Savannah and a strong supporter of scouting, STEM programs, and by extension amateur radio:
By now the word has been spreading about the death yesterday of our good friend Walt Mathers. Walt was admitted to hospital on January 3, and later diagnosed with leukemia. His initial prognosis was not good, but Walt faced his illness with a deep and abiding faith. He said he would win no matter the outcome, and he kept that faith right up to the end.
We will have time to share many stories and reminiscences in the days and weeks to come, and frankly, for those of us who knew him well, for the rest of our lives.
On Monday, the ship's flags will fly at half-staff, and as is our tradition, we will gather at noon to remember Walt and toll 8 Bells. Details of Walt's service will be provided when they become available.
As many of you know, Walt's exuberance got the better of him during the reactor lift and a couple of the evolutions later in the week. For those who don't know, I had the opportunity to conduct a special GET-I refresher for Walt and Valerie in mid-February. Walt was at home, looking and sounding well - like his normal self really. He was really looking forward to coming back to the ship, and he was able to do so a couple of times later in the month. I'm very pleased that we had that evening together, and that his last visits to Savannah were pleasant ones. Bob Adams and I visited Walt on Thursday afternoon, and I had the opportunity to say goodbye, to thank Walt for all he's done, and to tell him what a privilege it is to know him.
My thoughts today keep coming back to Tennyson. Walt was a Navy man long before he was "Workin' on the Rail Road", and despite his many eclectic passions, in the end I think it was always the sea that called to him. Fair Winds Walt.
Crossing the Bar, Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be a moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and the evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.