I just heard of the passing of Walt Stockwell, a long-time friend of Waterville Valley. I knew Walt as “The Flag Guy.” He was an expert on the U.S. Flag Code and the history of the American flag. He loved to share his knowledge of flag etiquette, including how to properly retire American flags. When my son ran for NH State Representative, Walt took the time to share his thoughts on public service and local politics with Tyler. I recall that Walt had many post-retirement jobs and hobbies, including Nordic skiing in Waterville Valley.
Gigi Estes, leader of the Silver Streaks senior Nordic ski program, wrote a lovely tribute to Walt and provided some photos.
“With deep sadness I am reporting that Walt Stockwell has passed away. Walt was a legend for those of us who have skied in Waterville Valley for many years. My first year was in 1999/2000 when Bob Slagle led the Nordics and Walt and his wife Shirley were part of the group, which then consisted of 6 to 10 Nordics.
“Walt and Shirley organized the first of our Nordic parties in 2001, off the trail in a place Walt named “Silver Streaks Annex,” which we lovingly called “Walt’s Wayside.” The party was a total surprise for us Nordics. Walt had come in the day before, dug the table, benches and fire ring out of the deep snow and had carried in wood. Bob led us up Osceola and Moose Run, when suddenly he announced that it was time to turn around, way before our normal time. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we came to Walt’s Wayside! A fire was blazing, the table was covered with a table cloth and a spread of delicious food: cheese fondue, bread, fruit, dips, cookies, as well as a boom box with Irish music. What fun! And, of course, the popping of the champagne bottle, with the cork flying and the distance duly recorded. That first year the cork flew 41’ 8”. Walt continued as the “Keeper Of The Corks,” mounting them and recording the distance. Every year, Walt and Shirley organized the party, always a surprise for new Nordics. Eventually our group grew too large for the Stockwells to do it themselves, we all contributed to the goodies and it ceased to be a surprise.
“During the years of the yurt at Bob’s Lookout, Walt pulled a pulk to the yurt, carrying all we needed for the party. He continued to do it until he and Shirley moved to Gilford. At that time, he handed the cork board over to Paul E., our current keeper. Walt and Shirley were honored with a life-time Silver Streaks membership. Without the yurt our parties have been in some of our generous members’ homes where Walt and Shirley joined us. Walt had written beautiful “Ode to Winter” poems that he read to us. Walt, we’ll miss you. May you have eternal snow and cross country skiing in your after-life. Thank you so much for all you have done for us Nordics making our lives so much richer.”