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Environmental Factor, September 2013

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Friends and colleagues remember Walter Olds

By Richard Sloane

NIH retiree Walter Olds

Olds got together regularly with his friends from NIEHS and clearly enjoyed his retirement years. (Photo courtesy of Richard Sloane)

Friends and colleagues were saddened by news of the death Aug. 22 of NIH retiree Walter Olds at age 87 in Cary, N.C., following a period of illness with the rare degenerative muscle disease, myopathy (see obituary and slide show of family photos).

Olds was born Feb. 1, 1926 in Akron, Ohio. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he became an architect. In 1981, he joined NIEHS as an engineer in NIH Office of Research Facilities at NIEHS, formerly the Facilities Engineering Branch. He retired in 1996, saying he needed more time to get on with his life.

After retirement, Olds served as a gem cutter with the jewelry firm Charles and Colvard. He enjoyed photography and traveling. His photographs of the American Southwest and extensive images of grist mills in the Southeast were a delight to all regional photographers. Olds did his own darkroom work and was one of the pioneering forces behind the former, very successful NIEHS Camera Club, serving as its treasurer for more than a decade.

Among his many accomplishments and successes, the most notable may have been the many closely held relationships he greatly valued, some measured not by years but decades. Many of these were with his photography friends at NIEHS and other regional camera clubs. His humor, smile, and zest for life, pizza, and ice cream were contagious. All of his friends, new and old, celebrate a life well-lived, and raise a glass in his memory in thanks for great times and wonderful memories.

A memorial service was held Aug. 28 at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home in Cary, N.C. Olds is survived by partner Marlene Barnard, two brothers, two sisters, four children, and two grandchildren.

(Richard Sloane is an employee services specialist with the NIEHS Office of Management.)

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