Editorial: Goodbye to a dear friend
Our community lost a special person, and the Gazette-Journal a dear friend, in the death last week of Walter Becknell.
His association with a Bible college brought him to Gloucester County from Indiana for the first time in the 1940s (to blow the trumpet at a revival); marriage and a family brought him back in the 1950s; and his photographic talents, developed in order to document well his lifelong interest in birds and all other facets of nature, brought him to the Gazette-Journal in 1956.
Walter settled here and became a well-known and broadly-liked member of the community. He learned to fly, took his camera along, and photographed a valuable aerial record of Gloucester and Mathews from the 1950s into the 1970s … landscapes since changed forever, historic places gone or altered, fishermen’s creeks and docks now empty of working vessels.
He spent two long periods working at the paper and left twice, but never really left, visiting often into his last year. His cheerful presence in the workplace made us cheerful too. In the community, Walter and his late wife Margie spread joy and music at nursing homes. He was found in ridiculous getups in local parades, riding or pulling along fanciful homemade contraptions, and blowing his ever-present trumpet. Wherever people gathered, if a piano was there, Walter was soon entertaining the crowd.
A man of talents, a man of the people, a friend to everyone including (especially) the birds, a faithful recorder of the passing scene, Walter will be missed. It was our privilege to have known him and to have worked with him.