Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Homeless Heart


Support for NPR comes from the estate of Richard Leroy Walters, whose life was enriched by NPR, and whose bequest seeks to encourage others to discover public radio.

Anyone who listens to NPR knows that “support comes from” is a regular feature of every broadcast on this public radio station. So be it. That’s why it’s public. If it weren’t for private donors and major corporations and foundations, NPR wouldn’t exist.

So, what makes Richard Leroy Walters and his gift so unique?

Walters, who died two years ago at the age of 76, was homeless. He didn’t have to be but he was. He didn’t have to be frugal but he was. He didn’t have to sleep on the grounds of a senior center or eat at the hospital but he did.

Walters was a retired engineer from AlliedSignal Corp. and an honors graduate with a master’s degree from Purdue. He never married and had no children but at some point in his life he had been a Marine.

Rita Belle, a registered nurse who was his friend and took care of him when he became ill, says, “He just gave up on the material things we think we have to have.” She said they used to talk a lot about investments and he made his trades on the telephone he used at the hospital.

Apparently he knew what he was doing. He left an estate valued at $4 million. Some of the money went to a Phoenix Catholic mission and to several other non-profits, to Belle and to NPR.

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