OBITUARY

Walter "Wally" James Werner

October 15, 1956January 25, 2020

Walter James Werner, Wally, 63 of Centennial Colorado, passed away on January 25, 2020 from a totally unexpected heart attack. Prior to this day, Wally was exceptionally healthy and was leading a very active life of cycling and travel.

Wally was born in Chicago, IL on October 15, 1956 to Walter and Patricia Werner. He graduated from Ridgewood High School in Norridge, IL in 1974 and then went on to earn a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics from Augustana College in Moline, IL in 1978. He did post-graduate work at the University of Iowa in Statistics and Actuarial Science but left the Master’s program for corporate experience.

He started his career as an actuarial analyst but in 1981 began working as a computer programmer; first for The Standard Oil Corporation (Cleveland, Ohio) and then for various divisions of the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation from 1981 to 1995. He became the Senior Director of Information Management for the College for Financial Planning and worked there until 1999 when he left in May to do his first cross-country bike tour from Washington to Maine. A decision that would influence the rest of his life as he went on to become a national advocate for self-contained bicycle touring. After returning from this pivotal adventure he co-founded Broadband Video, Inc. and then founded Red Arrow Group, Inc. which was a consulting firm that specialized in building leading edge websites for clients, especially those that required complex back end infrastructure, database processing and web hosting. In 2016 he sold the business to his employees so that he could pursue his love of bicycle travel full time.

In his professional career Wally spent his days sitting in front of a computer but whenever possible he’d get outside either by himself or with a group of scouts or other cyclists. His most epic trip was in 2014 when he rode 7,800 miles by himself from Key West, Florida to Homer, Alaska. He spent many volunteer hours advocating for adventure – first with Boy Scouts where he was a troop leader, scoutmaster, and district trainer and then since 1998 with Adventure Cycling Association where he was a small group bicycle tour leader and instructor for over 70 tours and a volunteer for a number of special projects. He was a board member of Adventure Cycling from 2009-2019 and Board President from 2013-2019. He believed that outdoor adventure travel was empowering and transformative and he worked to make sure that as many people as possible were able to experience that for themselves.

Wally was also a devoted son, brother, husband, father, uncle and grandfather. He is survived by his mother, Patricia Werner of Melrose Park IL, siblings Diane (& husband Ron) Wilczenski of North Lake IL, Linda (& husband John) Amraen of Haymarket VA, son Christopher (& wife Janna & grandchildren Addison & Elijah) Werner with ex-wife Sue Ann Fleishman Rector of Davenport IA, wife Patrice “TC” Werner of Centennial, CO, son Matthew (& wife Elyssa) Werner of Fredericksburg VA, and daughter Katherine Werner of Aurora, CO.

Wally loved his family and was incredibly proud of his children. He was always willing to help and was someone you could count on no matter what. He was super competent with household projects and was happy to help friends and family with their projects. He was sensitive and sweet so he often expressed his love by “teasing” us all – he couldn’t be mushy but he demonstrated his love every day through his actions which spoke louder than words. He was famous for saying he “hated cats” yet every chance he got he was interacting with them and was miffed if they didn’t sit on his desk while he was working. He never walked past a child, dog or cat without interacting with them. He was a generous, warm and kind man who will be dearly missed.

In closing, Wally shared this in his last blog post for his 2014 Keys to Alaska trip (https://trackmytour.com/Z5VW1)

"You may be wondering what I’ve learned during all of this time. Well I haven’t learned anything particularly new, but I will tell you this: If you have a dream, you should find a way to make that dream come true. And if your dream includes doing something that seems really big or intimidating, that is ok, because you only have to do it one minute, one hour, and one day at a time. I also know that I am just an ordinary guy, and if I can do this, anybody can do anything. I’m glad to have been able to share this journey with you and hope that you were able to enjoy following along. Until next time…" A celebration of Wally’s life will be held at Olinger Chapel Hill at 6601 S Colorado Blvd, Centennial CO 80121 at 1:00 pm on Sunday February 2, 2020. In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation in Wally’s honor to one of the organizations he supported: Adventure Cycling Association (www.adventurecycling.org ); Boy Scouts Denver Area Council (www.denverboyscouts.org ); or Soul Dog Animal Rescue (www.souldog.org ).

Services

  • Celebration of Life

    Sunday, February 2, 2020

  • Reception

    Sunday, February 2, 2020

Memories

Walter "Wally" James Werner

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TODD COPLEY

February 3, 2021

Already a year..... still on my vision board as I aspire....

Heather Andersen

February 2, 2021

A year ago today at the service, Frank Moritz said that Wally, through bike touring and his leadership, became like a pebble tossed into the ponds of people's lives and that his impact of them was still rippling. It still is today, as his heart beats on, still touching our lives.

John Wanberg

August 6, 2020

I have not spoken to Wally in some years - but I grew up with his boys, and was in Troop 373 while he was Scout-Master. Wally was gentle and kind to his core, and even after all these years I can remember his voice, and the big, bearded smile that made his eyes dance. He taught us the excitement of adventure, the value of kindness, and the wisdom of always being prepared as scouts, and the life he led in pursuit of those same things is truly inspiring.

Susan Eichler

March 30, 2020

Wally was such a help and inspiration to me when I was committee chairman for Pack 373 during the years 1992-99. He was a sweet, lovely man and will be missed by so many people that knew him.
My deepest condolences, Susan Eichler

gary newhart

March 25, 2020

Rest in Peace, our pedaling friend

john friedrichs

February 15, 2020

Wally was the lead instructor at an ACA leadership training group in Suffolk VA in 2010.His ease with which he instructed the group and guided his colleagues made it very evident that this was what he was meant to do .A wonderful time was had by all!

TODD COPLEY

February 15, 2020

I am stunned to my core... I served with Wally on the board of Adventure Cycling Association and marveled and learned from his soft spoken and thoughtful approach to everything. There is only one person in this world that loved bicycles and travel more than me and it was Wally. I'm sitting here now and can hear his voice and can close my eyes and see him walking down the hallway at Adventure Cycling. The gentle giant and a man who inspired many people. The last time I saw Wally was in early April 2019 when I was in Denver. Wally drove up from his home and we had lunch together and reminisced about ACA and caught up on our biking. My prayers are with his family as I read through Wally's story again and again.. Sincerely, Todd Copley

Heather Andersen

February 13, 2020

I met Wally working together at an Adventure Cycling Leadership Training Course in '05. At the end of the LTC, he said to call him if I needed anything during the cross-country tour I was about to lead. I said ok, thanks, but didn't think I'd need anything. Well...

Three weeks and five emergency room visits into the tour, I called Wally. He offered support and encouragement. When the group dynamics started to crumble under the stress and with the emergence of an abusive alcoholic, I again called Wally. And, then, when the unthinkable happened and a participant was hit by a car and killed--in Colorado--I called Wally. I can still hear his instantaneous response: "do you want me to come out there?" He didn't even have to think about it; he just offered. I said not tonight...Two days later, he came and met my group in Hartsel. I was still numb with shock and grief, yet I suddenly knew the meaning of heart of gold.

Two days later, he did it all over again. When my friends and family didn't know what to do or say other than "I'm sorry," when the office was asking if I was okay (well, no...), and when I didn't know where or to whom to turn, I barely had to turn and this man I'd met only a couple months previously was there. Again and again; he showed up another couple times on my TransAm, while driving to and from leading a tour of his own.

After my TransAm ended, I cycled down the coast. What I'd planned as a celebratory ride had turned into a memorial ride. And when my life fell even farther apart, Wally showed up and rode with me for a week. He showed me presence and compassion and the true meaning of friendship.

It is still unfathomable to me that it is his heart that killed him.

Yet if life isn't measured by the number of years we have on this planet or by the number of times our heart beats but rather by the number of hearts we touch, he lived a very long life.

Miss you, my friend and kindred spirit. And yet, I also know how blessed I am to have known you.

Linda Lehrer Brazzoni

February 3, 2020

The Kellett family had a chance to meet
Wally at the funeral of Cousin Walters
in Ironwood back in October. We will
remember his kindness and all the beautiful
effort he put into helping his mother with
bringing Walter back home. We are sadden
by Wally's untimely death. Our condolences
to the Werner family.

Linda Lehrer Brazzoni

Jeff Ames

February 1, 2020

We will miss looking out across the street seeing Wally doing yardwork, or preparing for his next big ride, or coming over to ask the girls to watch the cats while he was gone and filling us in on his and TC's adventures. We always joked that the amount of work he did around the house made us look bad. Wally was someone to look up to and I always enjoyed catching up with him. He carried himself so humbly but had so much life to share. It's not fair that he was taken so unexpectedly.

I always enjoyed seeing my kids interact with Wally, because I knew he was sharing some nugget of wisdom or joy and making them laugh. He will be very missed by them.

TC, our house is always open to you across the street for anything you need.

Love,
Jeff, Kathryn, Bella, Nick and Raina

FROM THE FAMILY