Walter W. Tokarczyk, age 95, long time resident of Randle, left us on February 2, 2021. He was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1925. His family grew up during the depression era on farm land in the outskirts of urban Parkland. Everyone had chores and a “victory garden” was their grocery store.
Walt was the oldest of 3 siblings. His younger brother (Robert) also worked in the Forest Service. The youngest sister (Dorothy Johnson) lived in Tacoma and raised two cool daughters Lucy and Carol. He and Bob practiced “forestry and conservation” before it was coined a phrase. He was a good son, a great husband, an excellent uncle, a wonderful brother, and a superb neighbor. Someone you would “want in your foxhole” when things go sideways.
Walter enlisted in the Navy during 1943 and was honorably discharged three years later. He never dwelled on any horrors of that experience, just the old stories that would put a smile on your face. He met his life companion Shirley at a skating rink and they married in 1947 after his return from service in WW II. Their happy marriage of 71 years was always a milestone shared with friends and family. He and Shirley were like two peas in a pod when it came to hiking, hunting, camping, skiing and raising their canine family.
They shared the Forest Service experience at Guard Stations and fire lookouts before people knew the term “off-the-grid”. In 1948 he started out on the Columbia National Forest (later named Gifford Pinchot NF). They lived/worked/played in places like Cat Creek, Hamilton Butte, Sunrise, Burly Mountain and French Butte.
On the Tieton Ranger District, Walt held positions like Assistant Ranger, Fire Control Officer and Resource Assistant. In those days everyone in the field offices had a “go bag” for deployment to the next hot spot that Mother Nature and lightning sent their way. The eight hour work day was not the norm, he did whatever was required to finish the task.
Walter worked with the White Pass Ski Area before and after his retirement. He assisted with the Forest Service requirements for the expansion in 1960’s and later as a lift operator and avalanche specialist.
Walt knew how to use a compass, a tool that won’t find the nearest Starbuck’s, but will guide you out of a dark forest in two feet of snow.
He retired in 1980, choosing to build a house in the Cispus River valley. That decision let them experience the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens up close. He and Shirley always respected Mother Nature, so a little nearby volcano wouldn’t stop them from completing their domicile. The Randle area was a great jump off point to all the places they loved to explore (Mt. Adams, Cascade Crest trail, White Pass) and any other places that smelled like green.
He was a practical person, all his hunting knives were razor sharp. They were something to depend on when needed, just like him.
No formal services will be held.