In Memory of Walter H. Marx

Remembering Walter Marx

by Paul B. Gill


My earliest recollections of Walter Marx go back to first grade at the Mary E. Curley School.  Walter and I tied for tallest kid in the class.  In an era when pupils lined up by height for filing through the corridors, he and I always brought up the rear together.

Three years later, we rediscovered each other in fourth grade at the Agassiz.  We enjoyed going to his house on Castleton Street after school and walking his dog, Tippy, at Jamaica Pond.  Walter always found plenty to talk about during our excursions.  Perhaps because each of us was an only-child, we thrived on the companionship.

One Saturday my mother invited him to join us for lunch.  He sat at our kitchen table, articulately iterating one story after another about the fourth-grade experience.  As part of his soliloquy, Walter revealed that I had had a serious dustup with the teacher a few days before.  My secret was gone in a flash!  How could he?  I glanced at my mother, expecting the worst – but by then, Walter had gracefully moved on to his next vignette.  My mother was so highly charmed by this loquacious and interesting nine-year-old that (fortunately for me) she all but forgot about my incident with the teacher.

Walter was an avid reader as a boy.  He occasionally referred to his mother as “Marmee,” suggesting early familiarity with Louisa May Alcott’s writing.  Through his reading he had become enamored of life in the nineteenth century.  Walking home from sixth grade with him one afternoon, I commented on how lucky we were to be living in the age of automobiles and television.  I looked back and found him frozen in place – horrified by my remark!  He went on to explain why he would be much happier living in the elegance of the Victorian era.  That fascination would stay with him for life.

Although I never remember Walter any way but slim, he was a boy who very much enjoyed food.  He occasionally liked to try his hand in the kitchen.  He had carefully observed his mother’s culinary efforts and had learned from them.  One rainy afternoon when his parents were out, he baked a layer cake.  I watched in amazement as he lifted each half from the pan intact and then artfully assembled and frosted his creation, of which we each sampled a generous and tasty slice.

Walter’s parents left distinct impressions on me.  His mother (“Ellie”) enjoyed gardening as well as cooking, and I noticed that she undertook these endeavors quite seriously.  Walter told me that she was born in Hamburg, Germany, and had come to the U.S. at the age of nineteen (c. 1930).  In those early years she had apparently worked in the factory district of Jamaica Plain, alongside fellow German immigrants.  By the 1950s she was employed as bookkeeper at Sherry Motors in West Roxbury.  Before she left for work on summer-vacation days, she routinely assigned “Vahl-tuh” a set of household chores, which he always completed dutifully.

Walter Herman Marx Sr. was born in Massachusetts in 1906, the son of German immigrants.  He grew up in Holyoke.  In the 1950s, he was an insurance agent who often worked at home.  The dining room table was covered with his documents, and he usually worked on them with a stubby cigar in one corner of his mouth.  No one else was allowed near that table.  It was a safe island for both his paperwork and his cigar fancy.  I remember that he enjoyed verbally teasing us boys in a sarcastic but witty way.

On a Saturday morning in 1950, Walter and I (and fellow sixth-graders) appeared on the M-1 Safety Squad radio program.  We kids had helped write the script, and our delivery was worse than silly.  After the broadcast, as Walter and I approached the house on Castleton Street, we sighted the stocky frame of Mr. Marx up on the porch.  He was grinning down at us, with his characteristic stubby cigar in place.  “Oh, oh, I can tell he tuned in to the program,” whispered Walter, bracing himself for a sharp critique that would be heard all over the neighborhood.  Mr. Marx removed the cigar and bellowed, “Hey, CBS called with a contract!”  Walter exhaled – delighted that the comment was more humorous than acerbic. 

One fall afternoon, I accepted an invitation from Mrs. Marx to stay for dinner.  I vividly recall Mr. Marx enjoying a mug of German beer with his meal (a new notion for this young observer).  Throughout dinner Walter again played the knowledgeable young raconteur, focusing this time on the subject of cuisine.  I had little to contribute.  To save face, I made some comment about how my mother roasts a chicken.  The usually serious Mrs. Marx chuckled and shook her head in the negative.  My comment caused her respect for Boston-Irish cooking to drop another notch.  Feeling obliged to right a wrong, she carefully detailed for me the proper way to roast a chicken.  I noticed that Walter was enjoying my plight a little too much!

As the two of us walked along Castleton Street one day, Walter pointed to a particular house and muttered, “They’re prejudiced against Germans.”  The revelation embarrassed me because that family, like my own, was Boston-Irish.  He explained that the son had “said things” of an offensive nature directly to the Marxes.  Walter suggested that there were others around who had behaved similarly.  Soon I learned the disappointing news that Walter would not be attending Boston Latin School with me but would be enrolling at The Roxbury Latin School, where his parents believed he’d be better insulated from this kind of injustice.

We saw each other much less while attending the different Latin schools.  Our visits were usually in the summer and on school holiday weeks.  I snapped this photo of him with Tippy during Christmas vacation when he was about 13 or 14.

A particularly memorable get-together took place in August of 1954 at the house on Castleton Street.  The morning started off ominously cool and damp, so Walter decided to light the fireplace.  When he opened the flue, a tremendous gush of wind created a blinding flurry of ash residues that settled all over the living room.  What would his parents say if they came home to this?  Frantic, he vacuumed all morning.  On the WBZ radio noon news, the announcer described Hurricane Carol’s surprise visit to New England, with winds over 100 mph.  As the newsman continued, his microphone picked up the crunch of the Channel 4 TV tower toppling onto the roof above him.  Walter seemed relieved that somebody was having a worse day than he.

Walter and I went on to attend different colleges.  Although we faithfully exchanged Christmas cards every year (his was always stunning), we rarely saw each other.  I recall a chance meeting at the corner of Centre and So. Huntington in the early 1960s.  I outlined my plans for graduate work in engineering.  He, in turn, updated me on his studies in the classics.  He was beaming about travel to Italy on a Fulbright scholarship.

In the 1970s his Christmas cards revealed that he was teaching at the Middlesex School in Concord, not far from where my wife and I lived.  For some reason, neither he nor I made a gesture to get in touch.  Perhaps we had gone our separate ways a bit too far.  However, over the decades afterward I thought of him often. 

Out of curiosity one day in 2005, I entered his name on an Internet search engine.  It was then for the first time that I encountered the J.P.H.S. website.  I pulled up the list of Walter’s articles and was thrilled to read them one by one.  Then came the shock when I arrived at his obituary. 

Walter was an unforgettable character.  I’ll cherish my memories of our childhood experiences, and I’ll always regret having missed opportunities to reach out to him in adult life.

Walter H. Marx, 1939 - 1995

Founder, historian and linchpin of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society.

The impetus for writing this short biographical sketch followed by my reminiscences dates back to the Society’s Member’s Night at Doyle’s Café in Jamaica Plain on November 9, 2005. I was asked to offer spontaneous comments on the occasion of the dedication of a plaque honoring Walter, to be placed in the new archival files in recognition of his services to the Society since its inception in 1988. That previous February 2005 was the tenth anniversary of his death and it occurred to me that the Society had scant record of his achievements, both professional and “avocational”, particularly his role as Jamaica Plain Historical Society’s Historian. What follows, therefore, are my recollections of Walter’s education, accomplishments and unique contributions to Jamaica Plain’s recorded history.

I knew Walter only vaguely in his younger years, inasmuch as he was five years behind me at the Roxbury Latin School, from which he graduated in 1957. His early dedication to the Classics was evident in his tutorial sessions in Latin and Greek with fellow classmates. He also participated in the Soccer program and coached the school’s younger teams in that sport.

Walter continued his grounding in the Classics at Harvard University, receiving his BA (1961) and MAT (1962) in that discipline. His ambitious Master’s thesis tackled The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

His career as a teacher and Department Chair in the Classics led him to various locations from the early 1960’s through the mid 1980’s at: St. Stephen’s School, Austin, TX. (1962 - 1966), The Taft School, Watertown, CT (1966 - 1970), and The Middlesex School, Concord, MA (1972 -1983).


While at Middlesex, Walter procured a Vanity Plate with a modified version of the Roman Legions’ abbreviated motto, “S.P.Q. R.” (The Senate and the Roman People). Walter’s read ‘S.P.Q.C.” (The Senate and the People of Concord). This illustrates in a nutshell his immersion in the classical world and his attempts to make it more of an immediate experience for his pupils. In addition, he served as guide on numerous field trips to the major sites of Mediterranean Antiquity with those same students, demonstrating his deep hands-on involvement in his subject.

My later encounters with Walter were once again at Roxbury Latin School in the 1980’s where we both served on the Alumni Council. We also met frequently at gatherings of the West Roxbury Historical Society. These occasions led, quite naturally, to Walter’s recruitment of me as Treasurer of the fledgling Jamaica Plain Historical Society, only 10 months after its founding in late 1987. Up to that point, his German-born mother, Ellie, had tended to the Society’s financial duties. From that time on, I became closely acquainted with Walter’s activities with the Society.

The remainder of this essay will deal with my most vivid and lasting memories of Walter Marx; giving the reader an impression of what it was to know, work with, and hold with deep affection this immensely likeable man.

If we could define the working culture of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society early on, it was permissive, freewheeling, and thus very creative. Initially, Henry Scannell served as Archivist and he regularly produced interesting archival items from Jamaica Plain’s past. Somehow, we managed to organize lecture meetings, outdoor birthday parties and picnics, and hold annual elections.

Walter was very much involved in all our activities. He kept the spotlight focused on the Society through his countless articles in the local newspapers and by writing pamphlets such as “Jamaica Plain’s Streets”, which traces the historical roots of J.P. Street names. He conceived the idea of reprinting an 1890 bird’s eye map of Jamaica Plain. He and our current president, Michael Reiskind, served as “Ambassadors-at-Large” in the community, constantly immersing themselves in the important issues of the day and always advancing the Society’s concerns for what was best for Jamaica Plain.

Gradually, in addition to the regular meetings, there emerged the equally regular Newsletter, which is now a popular quarterly event. Happily, this served to increase our membership base from an original fifty souls to its present size of more than 150.

Through his contact with Richard Heath, a local historian and champion of preservation in his own right, Walter established contacts with the Forest Hills Cemetery and its President, Bud Hanson. From this liaison, informational walks in the Cemetery, led by Richard Heath, were developed. Walter’s association with the Cemetery was instrumental in planning and executing the dedication of the John Eliot Grove. This project memorialized “The Apostle to the Indians” and founder of the Roxbury Latin School. (Eliot is also memorialized in the present-day Eliot Street and the school bearing his name, located on Eliot Street, near Jamaica Plain’s Monument Square.)

Walter and Richard Heath were also instrumental in the restoration and beautification of the John Francis Parkman Monument located at the south end of Jamaica Pond.

Another noteworthy achievement was Walter’s scheduling of a visit to the Roxbury Latin School immediately following our dedication of the Eliot Grove. At the School we viewed various historical artifacts and souvenirs of John Eliot’s English period and saw the School’s original copy of Eliot’s translation of the Bible into Algonquin. This “Eliot Bible”, printed in 1663 was the first Bible printed in the Colonies in any language.

On several occasions, the Cemetery’s Trust opened the Chapel to the Jamaica Plain Historical Society meetings; notably, our Ghosts of November evening that recalled prominent historical persons interred in the Forest Hills Cemetery.

Another tradition established under Walter’s aegis and carried forth for several years involved Memorial Day Ceremonies. Not only were the Civil War and subsequent conflicts remembered, but also a long absent focus was thrown on the rich Revolutionary War local heritage in a ceremony near the Monument; at another located off Mendum and Walter Streets in Roslindale and at a Colonial burial plot known as Westerly, on Centre Street in West Roxbury.

When the historic Shirley-Eustis House was refurbished and reopened in the early 1990’s, Walter immediately became involved and emerged as Chief Docent and Tour Leader on the House’s august historical premises.

A further example of his unique talents as a researcher and popularizer of History was his “New Bern Caper”. He had researched the history of Newbern Street in Jamaica Plain for his publication on the neighborhood’s streets. He discovered a connection with the port city of New Bern, in North Carolina. The city, under Union control, had come to play a critical role in the interdiction of supplies to the Confederate Army. It had been captured early on in March 1862 by Federal forces and remained a Union garrison throughout the war. Walter decided to make New Bern a major port of call on one of his history excursions and he was able to identify various Union soldiers from Jamaica Plain who served there. Naturally, he later contributed extensive commentaries on his trip in the local paper.

I was privileged, along with a friend, to join Walter on what he would have termed his “General Knox’s Cannon Expedition”. On this trip we traced, in reverse, the course of the transfer of cannon by Revolutionary Army General Henry Knox from Fort Ticonderoga in New York, to Dorchester Heights in Boston. The plan was conceived in late 1775 and carried out in the late winter of 1776. This “mission impossible” enabled the Colonials to control Boston Harbor and all British Naval movements in the Boston theatre of operations. Walter was concerned in making an inventory of the monuments along the Knox route and we recorded their number and condition. We then filled out our weekend with a tour (which Walter had meticulously researched) of the palatial residences of the American plutocracy of the late 19th - early 20th century along the Hudson River. Of course, many articles and stories followed which kept the Jamaica Plain Historical Society in the eye of our audience.

I’d like to finish my reminiscences with what I call the “Walter Marx Loaves and Fishes Caper.” We could also think of it as “How Walter Marx Pulled the Rabbit Out of the Hat” This event occurred in the late 1980’s when we were grasping for issues and venues to create interest in the Jamaica Plain Historical Society. At the time, The Boston Beer Co. had just renovated the former Haffenreffer Brewery’s premises and began producing Sam Adams, “America’s Premium Beer”. A great deal of publicity was generated, since the product had been winning numerous annual International awards as the champion of beers. Amidst all this hoopla, Walter managed to convince the Boston Beer owners that it would be to their great advantage to sponsor a Jamaica Plain Historical Society meeting in the Oktoberfest Season (At the time, we had perhaps 70 - 75 members in good standing; none of them big spenders). He waved his wand again and somehow engaged the Community Hall of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, for our mid-week meeting. As the final touch in this miracle of Lourdes, the prohibited element of alcohol appeared in the form of “samples” of Sam Adams Lager. Thus, we succeeded in flying under the radar of the city and clerical authorities without untoward consequences. Incidentally, the sample size was 12 ounces, with no limit in quantities. Naturally, attendees remember, with a warm and hazy glow, that lecture on Sam Adams and the rebirth of beer brewing in Boston.

It would be difficult to conclude without recording a few personal impressions of my association with Walter Marx. The common experience that bound us closely was our attending Roxbury Latin, albeit a few years apart. There, we shared the school’s classical curriculum, in the course of which we studied under Gerhard Rehder, the school’s History Master for nearly thirty years. In his courses, Walter (and I) learned the maxim that any presentation, to be cogent, should be articulate (of course) but above all should have a discernable beginning, middle and end. I would daresay that Walter’s work in his teaching and with the Historical Society met this test. I hope my musings have come close to doing so as well.

How do I picture Walter now? He’s at his desk or on his couch somewhere in his beloved Elysian Fields, his lanky 6’4” frame hunched over his 1950’s typewriter, he is absorbed in cleaning the keys preparatory to writing yet another Gazette article. Beside him stands his humidor brimming with cigars, waiting to be plucked one by one after a day well spent. On his reading table await copies of Livy, Tacitus, Herodotus or Homer, all in the original, awaiting to be re-read and enjoyed along with a glass of lemonade by the “friendly talented giant” who was Walter Marx.

Edward L. McGowan

Treasurer, Jamaica Plain Historical Society

June 5, 2006


“In Memoriam”

Walter and I came to know each other through my relationship with his father, who also bore the first name of Walter. We served together as board members of the Roxbury-Highland Bank for many years, and it was not uncommon for young Walter to accompany his Dad to the annual meeting of the bank. It was quite obvious that young Walter possessed a great love of history and, given his educational experience, he excelled in both the written and spoken word.

I shall share two occasions, which come to mind in remembering Walter. The first occurred on Memorial Day of 1993 when Walter delivered a scholarly treatise on “Civil War Monuments in Massachusetts”. The event took place at Forest Hills Cemetery to commemorate the magnificent Roxbury Soldiers’ monument on the 125th Anniversary of its dedication. A large crowd of young and old listened to Walter’s eloquent treatise on this and other monuments, dedicated to those who lost their lives during the Civil War, that adorn so many of our city and town squares.

The second was an equally scholarly treatise held at the Civil War Monument on Centre Street. Newly restored and replaced bronze plaques were proudly unveiled as Walter put in perspective the importance of Jamaica Plain’s most important monument.

To reflect on Walter H. Marx is to reflect on a man well suited to have been prominent in the Jamaica Plain Historical Society. He was truly a personification of erudition and a perfect gentleman.

Erling A. Hanson, Jr.

Former President, Forest Hills Cemetery

Boston, Massachusetts

May 30, 2006

Memories of Walter H. Marx

I’m not sure exactly when I first met Walter Marx. I do remember the first time I became aware of him when he talked to me as if we had already known each other for some time. I remember wishing I had met him earlier, partly because he was so helpful to me in my research of the history of Jamaica Plain and partly because knowing him helped make the business of researching fun.

I do not think he was one of the representatives of the newly founded Jamaica Plain Historical Society who back in the spring of 1988 invited me, along with Carol Kennedy of the Boston Landmarks Commission, to speak at the James Michael Curley mansion. It is possible I met him at the event itself, although it was so crowded-thanks to the lure of the Curley house, which was usually closed to the public-I might not have remembered clearly if I had met him there or not.

Yet it is more likely that whenever we did first meet, Walter simply ignored the inconvenience of the absence of previous acquaintance and acted as if we had known each other for years. That would be like the man. Always on the lookout for people who shared his enthusiasms, Walter didn’t so much start a conversation as dive into the middle of a topic and swim vigorously for the other shore.

Walter’s appearance made a strong impression, that’s for sure. He was very tall, with yellow-white hair that fell in a few thick strands across his forehead, thick glasses, and usually had a cigar, lit or unlit, in his hand or mouth. He was somewhat awkward in his movements. Add to that his deep voice and articulate manner of speaking-he liked to drop in the occasional Latin phrase-and it is hard to believe anyone could meet Walter without marking the encounter.

For all his eccentric appearance, however, Walter was truly engaging. He enjoyed conversation, including a good laugh-whether over some strange historical coincidence or the human comedy. Whenever we met, we would have a good talk that ended only when one of us realized we were in danger of completely derailing the day’s business. Then Walter, who usually had a long list of things to do-an article to write or other business-would wave his cigar with a wide smile and stride hurriedly down the street.

Walter was a generous and trusting soul. When I had reached the stage of looking for historic images of Jamaica Plain to go into my book, Local Attachments: The Making of an Urban Neighborhood, 1850-1920, Walter declared that he would help solve the problem by loaning me the Jamaica Plain Historical Society’s picture collection to see if there were any I might wish to copy for my book. Without asking for any guarantee or collateral, he delivered the spiral notebooks whose plastic sheets held the old photographs and postcards. As I pored over the sheets of little visual treasures, I thought of Walter-both his generosity and also his tobacco habit-as the notebooks’ vinyl pages reeked of cigar smoke. Yet, never one to hog the glory, Walter also steered me to Suzanne Presley, a prodigious collector of old postcards, and he spent much time thinking about what other sources for pictures might be available.

Indeed, Walter was not only gregarious; he also genuinely liked people. Somehow he kept track of everyone even remotely connected to Jamaica Plain’s history and quite a few others. For him, it seems to me, history was the record of people gone but who would have been most interesting to know.

A little of Walter’s flair for life, friendliness, and busy pursuit of history-not to mention, sympathy for the downtrodden-is reflected in a note he sent to me on April 19, 1988. The previous day we had crossed paths in Harvard Square, although I can no longer remember, if I ever knew, why Walter was there. One side of the paper was a photocopy of British stamps from Jamaica and a type-written paragraph, apparently written by Walter, about the origins of Jamaica Plain’s name, which he argues came from the Algonquin word, “kutchemakin.” On the other side, Walter wrote the following:

Dear Alex,

Good meeting you in the Square! Had I known that was to occur, I’d have handed this sheet to you which comes from A Concise Guide to the Streets of Jamaica Plain, which the society will feature. This seems to be a final word on the term Jamaica Plain. I must say I heartily endorse it, for I’m a great Indian cheerleader & the English were not nice to them. Fortunately, John Eliot was a fine exception. All this comes from a Citizen article I’m doing on Jamaica Plain aborigines. We must not dismiss them so easily, although ‘tis so easy.

My best,


His cheerful way of sharing history was one of Walter’s many charms and one reason that those of us who knew him, miss him, and remember him fondly.

Alexander von Hoffman

Senior Fellow

Joint Center for Housing Studies

Harvard University

June 4, 2006

For more than four years, since the Jamaica Plain Gazette began in February 1991, Walter Marx provided the paper and its readers with a fresh account of Jamaica Plain History-making page two one of the most popular pages of the newspaper.

His tales from the past of this neighborhood entertained and edified a cross-section of local residents who became loyal fans of “Looking Back.” He never turned in an article past deadline, and he never missed an issue, except those times when he graciously allowed others to write in his place.

Last week, Walter became part of the neighborhood history he loved so much. When he died he left a void, not only in this newspaper, but also in the community he served. Walter not only wrote about history, but he also helped make it. As the historian and a founding member of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society and as a member of the Jamaica Pond Association he worked tirelessly to see that pieces of the neighborhood’s past were preserved and protected. Just last month he persuaded the state to fix a monument on Kelley Circle that had been defaced.

Walter was history in action, tramping through wetlands, traveling to North Carolina and Maine, visiting libraries-all to get the story. Even though he wrote about the past, he probably conducted more current investigations than any other staff member. Walter Marx put his personal energy into everything he did. Approaching the Gazette office, if you smelled cigar smoke and heard a booming voice, you knew that Walter was around, copying documents, discussing events of the day while he joked with the staff.

Walter was such a vivid presence; it’s hard to imagine him gone. In a way, he is not. His writings and efforts to preserve Jamaica Plain’s history will be with us forever.

Sandee Storey

Editor, Jamaica Plain Gazette

Remembering Walter

He was just in my house only two weeks ago. He called as usual excited over an historical find and he wanted my help in identifying it. That was just like him: Walter loved facts and was always willing to share information. He loved whatever would teach him more about the city of his birth, but especially about Jamaica Plain. And he couldn’t wait to rush into the Gazette to tell everyone else what a famous place Jamaica Plain was.

Walter was educated as a scholar, a teacher and writer. He attended Roxbury Latin School and Harvard. Walter was never afraid to stretch his learning. He would call and ask me some clarification or he would give me copies of something he found or some photograph. His enthusiasm for the life of history was rare. For Walter the past made the present possible. I take pride that I led him to think about new things-especially about the significance of Roxbury history as the beginning of learning about Jamaica Plain. He and I loved the historic landscape. We shared a love and admiration for Francis Parkman, our mutual patron saint. Once, Walter sent me a map showing where all the trees were in the Arboretum that came from Parkman’s Jamaica Plain Pondside house.

Walter was a doer. He spent countless hours cleaning up and unearthing the secrets of the Eliot Street burial ground behind the Unitarian Church. Just before he died he rescued an obscure marker at Kelley Circle. Walter, Martha and I planted bulbs at the Parkman Memorial, and he would often go there alone and clean-up the site. He wrote the words to the plaque that honors John Eliot at Forest Hills Cemetery. His enthusiasm and energy helped make it happen. The Parkman Memorial will be Walter’s, too, for me. He loved the Shirley Eustis house and devoted thousands of hours to it over the years as a guide.

Walter did not suffer fools well. He suffered those who would destroy Jamaica Plain’s heritage with even more scorn. He could not understand the tortoise-like speed of government. He spent years trying to get the plaque replaced at the Monument. He loved Ward’s Pond and Nickerson Hill and the parkland behind the Kelly Rink, and he hated until the day he died its shabby condition and the way government ignored this precious park. Walter did not live in the past, but he didn’t want the past forgotten because the past was the only anchor he had. History-that straight line that ties us all together-was the spirit of Walter’s life. He was proud of where he lived and where he was born and he wanted everyone to be proud that they lived in Jamaica Plain too, because that pride would make us all better people. Better residents.

He didn’t want that steamroller of urban change to destroy the memories of the people that came before us. That’s why he loved plaques; Walter would have had a plaque for something or some event every sixteen feet in Jamaica Plain. That’s why he had to write history. Because he was afraid that people would forget and then they would lose their anchor. History ties us all together. It was the one thing that stopped the chaos that Walter saw all around him, from the changing landscape to the vanishing values.

Walter was unique. He was the soul of Jamaica Plain, the keeper of its treasures, the protector of its heritage. Above all else, he was a teacher. He would have been revered in Puritan Roxbury. His histories were not those of Plutarch or Livy-the Latin scholars he loved to read and quote, whom he admired along with the other ancient sages. His histories were for the common man and woman, girl and boy to read and learn and remember. But above all else, to be another ring on the anchor that would link us together as neighbors in Jamaica Plain. The past made the present possible.

Walter was my friend and Martha’s friend too. We will miss him. We will see his spirit at the Parkman Memorial. His like will not be seen again in Jamaica Plain.

Richard Heath

Contributions by Sandee Storey and Richard Heath are reprinted with permission from the February 24, 1995 Jamaica Plain Gazette. Copyright © Gazette Publications, Inc.