Chuck Heck passed along the obituary for Walt Husak prepared by Walt's family. Thank you - this expands on what we had earlier about his life and collecting.
What to tell you about Walter, so that you know how much he is missed?
He loved people—he always wanted to know who you were and what made you tick.
He paid local bills in person—so he could check in with people and chat.
He could talk to anyone, anywhere, about anything, and almost always you would leave the conversation as his friend, and would soon be invited over for wine.
He was a man of numbers, with a mind that listed and categorized and compared, which assured his success in the aircraft parts business, and in his great passion, collecting Early American large cents.
Walt was born in 1942, and though his mother lived in LA, anxiety about WW2 caused her to move to Chicago, where he was born. Two months later, they returned to LA, and Walt always proudly declared himself an Angeleno.
His entrepreneurial spirit was evident from an early age: at around 12-13 he manually set bowling pins in his local bowling alley to earn some money, and he would scour his mother's waitressing tips for coins whose value exceeded their face value. Some summers, he would work on his grandfather's farm in Iowa.
During one of those Iowa summers, Walt visited his father who worked at a bank in Cedar Rapids. Walt bought a roll of nickels and discovered that some were worth $15 a piece. At a local coin shop, that same summer, he received $15 per coin. His love of coins was cemented, his collector spirit ignited. And he became a life-long collector.
Walt always thought of coin shows and coin collecting as his college education. Although he began by collecting silver dollars, he fell in love with large cents, joining Early American Copper and becoming a
Boy of 1794, the group that focuses on early American copper.
The 2008 collection Walt amassed and sold at action was outstanding, featuring some of the finest known of certain coins. That year, Walt sold his beloved coin collection to world-wide acclaim. The collection itself was outstanding, including many of the finest known of certain coins. So stunning was his collection, and the money the auction generated, that even Saturday Night Live commented on it.
Of his many impressive coins, he most loved the Crying Lady and the Star Reverse.
While it may seem that coins were his life, there was more to Walt. He met his second wife, Patricia, in a rainstorm at the Onion Church in Sepulveda, CA, at a Parents Without Partners meet-up. At that time, Walt drove a 1969 avocado green Pontiac station wagon, and the two of them began travelling across California--the only problem is that whenever the Pontiac crossed LA county lines, it inevitably broke down.
To add to their savings, on the weekends Walt and Patricia would sell roller skates and shower curtains at the Rose Bowl, while during the week Patricia worked at Xerox, and Walter worked at Burbank Aircraft. Worried by the rising housing prices during the 1978 LA real estate boom, they decided to buy a house in Van Nuys, for the then exorbitant amount of $76,000 (no typo!). With Patricia's encouragement, Walt began HK Fittings in their garage. They married shortly after in the backyard, next to their 1950s swimming pool, on the hottest day of the year in 1982...
But to tell you about this leaves out his first travels to Europe, which fueled his life-long delight in travelling. It does not tell you about his growing love of the Santa Ynez Valley, which they first visited after he ran a marathon in Lompoc, after which they drove to Solvang to have dinner. They walked around Solvang and were smitten. On Walt's birthday, Patricia gifted him a weekend at what was Fess Parker's Hotel in Los Olivos, and they looked at houses. They fell in love with one on Fredensborg Canyon, which they bought that very weekend. They have had a house in the Valley ever since.
Patricia encouraged Walter's adventurous spirit: they have ridden elephants in Thailand, driven all the California scenic routes, which sometimes led to unexpected experiences. In New Zealand, Walt refused to drive, so they took a bus and traveled across the South Island. They went to Turkey and Greece, Sicily and Tibet, China and London, and almost everywhere in between. It might be easiest to say that they have not been to Japan and India.
Walter is survived by his wife of 40 years, Patricia, by Wally, his son, who has his same ability at numbers, by Trina, his daughter, who has his encyclopedic mind, and his tendency to want to build the perfect organizing system. He has many grandchildren, from his Oregon grandchildren to his great-grandchildren in Tennessee. He has a step-daughter who is a professor, a step-son (deceased) who was an architect, and grandchildren living in LA, Spain, and Miami.
Anyone who knew Walt, will miss him. As one of his grandchildren said, he taught them about what makes a good oyster, and what makes a good human being.
An obituary is a vain attempt at encapsulating a life that cannot be summarized. We miss and love Walter, a man whose life is as improbable as it was successful. A man whose life can be summarized by all the many people who miss him, and who love him still.
Also, Ken Berger supplied this gallery of images of Walt.
With Jeff Garrett
With Steve Ellsworth
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
WALTER J. HUSAK (1942-2022)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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