The Cowboy at heart, WallyGator, Mario, Dad, Brother, Husband, Son, Uncle, Grandpa, Coach, Skier Bad Ass, Black Belt, Soldier, Paratrooper, Teacher, and the Original Life Coach.
It is an honor and privilege to introduce myself more times than once as Mr. Waggoner’s daughter. Summarizing your life in a single obituary does not fully encompass your life and breadth of love. But here is my attempt:
Mr. Waggoner passed away in his Parkland, WA home on March 22, 2020, surrounded by love and support near & far by all who love him. Walter, who always thought he was born a century too late, was born on May 27, 1938 in Wenatchee, WA to Walter L. Waggoner Sr. and Bonivieve R. Waggoner. He graduated from Stadium High School in 1956, briefly enrolled in Washington State University, and after what he thought was a failed exam, quickly enlisted in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper. He found out later that he had passed the exam with flying colors, but was too enamored in the adventure of the Army to turn back prematurely. He served his time in the Army, going on numerous crazy and hair-brained adventures, then thought he’d give college another try. He re-enrolled at Washington State University on the GI bill and earned his degree in Education. He married Bonnie (Crapo) Waggoner on the 4th of July 1967, and began teaching at Keithley Middle School as a PE, Health, and Shop teacher. He later earned his Master’s degree in Education at Pacific Lutheran University. All this while thinking he was never a very good student. Walt and Bonnie raised their two children, Sam and Skye, in Parkland, WA, and Walt eventually retired from an illustrious Career as Head Coach and incredible Teacher at Keithley Middle School after 34 years.
Walter was an amazing human who will live on in the hearts of all he met. Even though he was a shorty, he was larger than life. His smile & hearty laugh would fill a room and cheer everyone up. He made his students, athletes and children feel at ease, comforted, lifted up, and challenged to be better versions of themselves - especially the misfits, square pegs, and under-dogs. He was always amazed that he’d been successful in school, considered himself a misfit that never fully understood why some of his teachers discouraged him along the way. So he always went that extra mile to make sure his students and children received all the encouragement and support they needed to succeed both in school and in life.
Walter lived a life full of adventure. He was happiest outdoors in the mountains with his kids skiing, fishing, camping, hiking, getting lost, yodeling, cycling, learning a new sport, and telling tall tales by a fire. He was an eternal fan, cheering for his WSU cougars, for his kids and students at every game, match, ceremony, performance, and recital he attended. He was a lifelong student, even going so far as earning his black belt in Kung Fu at age 60. Eventually, he retired to his happy place skiing three times a week, teaching a cardiac rehabilitation class at the YMCA and teasing his grandkids and grand-nieces and grand-nephews mercilessly.
Walter made it to EightyOnderful, simply because EightyTwoterful didn’t have the same ring to it. It seemed that his life’s work was putting a smile on every face he met. He is a force of nature in sharing the joy in the world, acknowledging the scary, challenging and the sad, but always highlighting the joy, both in life and in death.
During his last few months here on earth, Walt had a dream where he spoke with his mom. She was so proud and happy for him. It seemed she was waiting for him with love and light on the other side. She, and Walt, knew his time was coming to pass over, and it was a bittersweet thing filled with love and light.
Walter, as we experience the veil dropping for you, and we now experience life without your steady physical presence, we know that your love is ever present. We feel it when we see your grandkids make goofy faces, when we experience any act of kindness, when we feel joy in a time of a pandemic, when we say Fuck It and do something crazy, when we hug each other, when we yell a swear word we know we’re not supposed to, when we bring a smile to a strangers face, when we rescue an animal, when we make a joke that others enjoy, when we use sarcasm so precisely that the 6y/o gets it, when we don’t sweat the small stuff, when we get knocked down and have the strength to get back up again, when we argue with your grandkids about who loves each other more, when we laugh so hard at an inappropriate joke that we pee a little, when we see a smile that lights up a room and a presence that fills a room with light, when we find a rhythm of moving our bodies everyday to the point of sweaty bliss, when we go on an adventure, when we fall asleep reading a book, when we take a deep breath instead of pushing too hard, when we try something new despite it being scary or challenging, when we pick a goal and nail it, when we tickle our kids, when we burst our buttons with pride at what our children achieve, when we smile even though we feel a deeper sadness with the grief of your loss than we ever thought possible.
In this time of grief at the loss of you from our physical world, we have an opportunity to celebrate your life by choosing joy in everything we do. Acknowledge the sadness and hardship, and choose joy and love anyway.
We are heartened to know that you are joined on the other side by your mother, your beloved Uncle Virgil and Aunt Pearl, riding your favorite horse Shorty in the farmland of some wonderful Western story.
Walt, you are so lucky to have so many people here to celebrate your life and legacy. Your loving family is a testament to your loving life. Your wife Bonnie D. Waggoner, son Sam (Gabi) Waggoner, daughter Skye (Sam Lett) Waggoner, your grandchildren Sally Waggoner, Ohna Lett and Gustin Lett. Your sister Sherla (Chuck) Brockway, your best friend and brother-in-law Monte (Jane) Craypo, nieces and nephews Crystal (Chris) Harrison, Heather (Levi) Dunton, Mark (Marianne) Craypo, Amy (Mark) Tiemeyer, and a multitude of great nieces and nephews. Your countless students, athletes, colleagues, friends, ski buddies, partners in crime, extended family members, custodians, secretaries, random bank teller and all the grocery clerks who ever smiled with you. We are all finding joy in the sadness, love in the loss, smiles through the tears and laughter amongst the companionship. We raise our glasses to Walter LeRoy Waggoner and celebrate your life. We’ll join you when it’s our turn to crossover to the other side. Until then… We love you more!
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