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Forum Oakmont: 10/01/2010

Wally Schilpp, Oakmont’s man for all seasons


Wally and Beverly Schilpp


What do you do for an encore when you’ve show Bertrand Russell how to draw a bath in your home, or let Albert Einstein explain why he shows up in slippers at your father’s table? Well, you become Oakmont’s undisputed factotum factorum, the go-to person for all problems, all complaints, suggestions and/or help of any kind. Wally has been the unofficial ombudsman for better than 10 years, and he served on a myriad of committees, sub-committees and ad hoc groups.

LOGIC CONQUERS ALL. This is the motto that guided his father, who immigrated from Germany, and became one of the country’s foremost teachers of philosophy, and personal friend to many of the world’s leading thinkers. If logic was the leitmotiv for his father, it became the principle of Wally’s dealing with his world. If a garden fence was slightly higher than the mandated size for the purpose of hiding unsightly garbage cans, common sense should prevail. However, when reason failed to persuade authorities, Wally decided to enter the civic life at Oakmont. Appointed to the Architectural Committee, he became its chairman two years later and rewrote the book.

Wally’s teenage years were spent in Berkeley, where he attended high school and the University of California, on a scholarship. His dream was to become a professional basketball player. Recruited by the Coast Guard to play on their team, the young student competed against some of the finest NBA stars who had been drafted into the military during the Korean war. Sadly, his promising sports career was cut short by a horrible car accident. Not able to play basketball any longer, Wally was made the secretary to the base chaplain who preferred golf to religion. It fell to the 20-year-old to minister to much older men.

Returning to Berkeley, Wally obtained a degree in education, gaining simultaneously his teaching credentials. However, married with one child, he could ill afford the paltry salaries teachers were paid. Instead he answered an advertisement and went into the printing business, learning the operation from the bottom up as a production planner.

After a few years, the young manager moved to Portland, Oregon, to oversee the construction of a new printing facility. A brilliant idea of making paper out of waste wood products was initiated, which led to vast profits, since lumber mills paid to have the shavings removed. The company used such volumes of wood pulp that two additional factories for paper bags and corrugated cartons were established. Wally hired hundreds of personnel and looked for printing presses as far away as Japan. In later years he became personally and successfully involved in union contract negotiations.

Leaving the printing activities for the lumber trade, Wally learned the intricacies of the laminated beams business in exactly six weeks. The newly minted specialist sought out all projects that required these engineered timbers. Analyzing cost to profit margins came easy. Nothing, however, was as challenging as the transportation of these gigantic structures. His customer base ranged across the country to the East Coast. And if one was not careful with the numbers, it was possible to lose one’s financial shirt.

After 15 years of 20-hour days, Wally finally decided to retire. He returned to Pleasant Hill, where he met again his former neighbor, Beverly, a vivacious and lovely woman. Together they set out to find a permanent retirement home, and settled in Oakmont.

Wally appears to be in perpetual motion; you see him at the OVA offices, at every Board meeting, committee gatherings, talking to people in the street, helping, advising and informing. Nobody in the village knows better how everything is run, where and when a meeting is taking place, and who is who in the community. His name is a household word.

And yet, he likes nothing better than to quietly read a book; preferably history about the Civil War. He collects stamps, is a model railroader, and he plays Internet Fantasy Sports with a passion. He is a champion at bridge and plays bocce ball and bowls the lawns.

How does he manage to do it all? Wally insists that he sleeps more than the minimal hours he used to. And he might have added another hour to a night’s rest to recharge his high-voltage batteries, which he used for so many years in distinguished and effective service to Oakmont and its residents.

Please send your comments to info@Kenwoodpress.com or Amselfluh@aol.com.



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