This is how I best remember Walt Martin: dressed in a brown tux, standing in front of a huge group of teenagers/young adults, grinning from ear-to-ear.
I've known Walt for as long as I could remember. We attended the same church since I was a child. When I was in junior high or so, he started a choir, open to anyone in the community as long as they were in high school, or older. Tell the World was its name, and they sang in the area malls (at Christmas) and in churches on Sunday evenings in the spring, always ending their 'tour' with a final concert at my home church.
Oh, I was so excited when I was finally old enough to be in Tell the World! I so enjoyed the Sunday night rehearsals in the Martin's basement - 30 or so of us, crowded into a room, singing our hearts out. I learned to really sing alto in Tell the World. I made some great friends there, and had a lot of fun.
Walt died last week. A man with his energy and personality leaves a huge hole in his family - a huge hole in this world. I, unfortunately, was out of town over the weekend, and so couldn't attend his funeral. I hear there was a Tell the World reunion - oh I wish I could have been there!
Mom says that the singers circled his casket and sang the song with which Tell the World ended every concert - Walt inviting anyone who had ever sang in the choir to come join the rest of the singers for the finale. Anyone who knew him knows, he's in heaven now, organizing a barbershop quartet, gathering together people for a big sing-a-long, and probably teaching them the song none of us will ever forget:
Now we can love, now we can love
Freely, wholly and fully
With strength from above