One of the last, few, truly Renaissance men died peacefully Saturday at Our Lady of the Resurrection Hospital. He died from a heart attack and complications of pneumonia. Walter Krawiec was 88 years old.
Despite his many talents, commissioned paintings, travel, and deep interest in music, Walter found time to spend every Thursday morning praying at the Albany Medical-Surgical Center with a group of pro-life activists.
Walter’s Many Talents
Walter was fascinating to know and to talk to. His uncle got him interested in birding when he was just a boy. He became so proficient that he was called on by nature lovers all over the country to share his knowledge. He spent many happy weekends at estates doing bird counts for the owners.
His knowledge of American trains and railroads provided him with many orders from railroad magazines to produce their covers. He had more than a dozen engines built to specifications in his railroad collection. (He had to change some because they did not conform precisely to the originals.) He traveled all over the country finding old engines to serve as his models.
Walter was a music expert. There was almost no composer whose music he did not understand thoroughly. He spent many, many hours at orchestra hall enjoying the symphonies. His trips around Europe were always arranged around concerts; he enjoyed even Gregorian and Polyphany Masses.
Walter was a recipient of the Purple Heart for his battles in the Pacific during World War II. He never bragged about his service, but gave vivid descriptions of battles he had taken part in.
He was an attorney for the City of Chicago for many years.
Walter’s knowledge of art was nothing if not profound. One proof of his interest in art was teaching others the techniques and methods of varous painters was a tour he gave to his friends at the Art Institute of Chicago through private galleries, ending with a long afternoon of “art talk” in the Fountain Cafe.
His love of art was hereditary; both his mother and father were artists. Walter’s father had been the art editor of the Chicago Tribune for many years. Walter had saved many of his father’s original sketches of Cardinal Mindszenty and John F. Kennedy. He married his artist wife, who he met at the art institute. she was well known as a still life painter whose father had traveled through Europe after world War II, specializing in the painting of horses.
Star of the Show
Following nearly every prayer hour at the clinic, a group of us would meet at a local restaurant. Walter almost always ran the show.
We all remember his stories of visiting a small town in Mexico to paint an engine that had been sold to them by our government. …The cathedral mass he attended in Vienna with the Viennese choir boys. …His meeting with some of the greatest artists, musicians and historians of his time.
Walter was the most unforgettable character most of us had ever met. He spoke of his challenges and abilities often, but he was a true friend, a lover of life, a joyful fighter for the unborn.
I remember the last time I saw Walter, just outside out local restaurant, I felt a strong urge to tell him something that I had realized long ago. “Walter, I said, you’re the best friend I have.” He answered simply, “My honor.”
To say that Walter will be missed is the greatest understatement I can make. But after living as a bachelor 7 years, he is now united with his wife and those who loved him perhapsa as much as we did.
Walter Krawiec, you were not only a good Catholic, a true friend, but perhaps one of the last Renaissance man Iwill ever know.