Walter Francis Staton III (Walt) passed away peacefully on July 20, 2018 at his home in Greentrees Village in Florence, surrounded by loving family and neighbors, three years after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Walt was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 11, 1949, the eldest of five children born to Walter Francis Staton, Jr. and Jean Reckefus Staton. He grew up in Carbondale, Illinois and West Lafayette, Indiana, graduating from West Lafayette High School in 1967. Walt served in the U.S. Army from 1969-72 as a cook at a military base near Frankfurt, Germany.
Following discharge, Walt traveled to Alaska, finding work in the fishing industry and as a woodcarver. He later moved to Arizona where he honed his woodcarving skills, hunted on horseback and mule, and competed in marksmanship events.
He met and married Susan (Sue) Theaker in 1980. Walt and Sue settled in the community of Prescott Valley, where they grew a small print and copy shop, Antelope Printers; and raised their son, Walter Emrys Staton. They were civically engaged as active members of the town chamber of commerce and offered organizational, graphic, and print skills to many non-profits, causes, and campaigns. Walt also served as Chair of his local County Democratic Party. Walt spent his last decade in the workforce at Western Newspapers, Inc., running finishing and bindery equipment.
Walt and Sue sold their home in Prescott Valley and retired to Florence, Oregon in 2012, immediately enjoying the warm, welcoming community. They joined the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Florence, which became Walt’s spiritual home, and the source of many deep and lasting friendships. Walt offered his skills in several leadership roles in the congregation, including serving as Webmaster and Board president, providing technical expertise to videotape services, organizing events, and was always on call for unforeseen handyman needs.
Walt enjoyed a lifelong passion for the outdoors, which he pursued in varied ways, including attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He helped organize many scout hikes and camping trips, including an epic two-week canoe trip to the scenic boundary waters of Wisconsin. Walt continued enjoying the outdoors in his successive moves to Alaska, Arizona, and Oregon; and rekindled his interest in Scouting by supporting his son's troop. Emrys would follow in his father’s footsteps to become an Eagle Scout.
Among his outdoor-related hobbies, Walt photographed and cataloged wildflowers, creating an online database, greeting cards, and framed pieces with the images. After retiring to Florence, Walt hiked and kayaked regularly, and helped organize the Florence Outdoor Group (FOG), which leads weekly hikes throughout the region. As a fellow FOGer observed, Walt was always mindful of his “ducklings,” making sure that all stragglers were accounted for on hikes. He also picked up a passion for bocce ball, playing faithfully on Saturday mornings, grooming the court and introducing others to the game.
Walt was a lifelong learner, becoming a man of many hobbies and interests. He was comfortable in a kitchen, and entertained many with his specialized dishes. He did a majority of his own automotive repairs and was often called upon for general handyman work in his neighborhood. He also became adept at sewing, acquiring and mastering the use of several machines to create custom clothing, outdoor gear, quilts, tote bags, and a wide variety of other handmade items. Many tried to complement Sue for his extraordinary shirts, and she would always refer them to the actual seamster - Walt.
Walt is survived by his wife Sue Theaker, sons Emrys Staton (Phoenix) and Craig Staton (Ohio), and siblings: Scott (Florence, Italy); Cliff (San Francisco); Jean (Morganfield, Kentucky); and Spenser (Chicago); and many nephews and nieces he enjoyed hosting and attending family gatherings with.
A service to commemorate his life will be held Saturday, September 8th at the Florence Unitarian Universalist Fellowship; 87738 Hwy 101 (at Heceta Beach Road); at 4:30 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Florence Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Fund or to local radio station, KXCR.