OBITUARY

Sidney Walton

February 11, 1919October 2, 2021

Sidney Walton, 102, one of America's oldest WWII veterans, passed away peacefully at 7:04 am Saturday, 10.2.21, in Santa Monica, CA, surrounded by his loving family. Born February 11, 1919 by a midwife on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Sidney's first memory was of a horse-drawn fire engine. He grew up in Brooklyn and later the Bronx.

In March 1941, at 22, Sidney left City College of New York "to join the Army to fight Hitler," as he so famously said. He trained at Fort Dix, NJ; and was then stationed at Fort Jackson, SC; Fort Toccoa, GA; and Camp Sibert, AL. The Army sent him to Virgina Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg to train for chemical warfare. He graduated with a chemical engineering degree and eventually was sent overseas to fight in India, in the China, Burma, India (CBI) theater of war.

After the war ended Sidney returned to the U.S. and taught geology at Duke University. He later attended Yale for graduate work in geology. In 1953, on a blind date at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA he met the love of his life, Rena Bell from Bangor, ME, who was taking classes at Harvard.

Sidney and Rena married in 1954 and the following year their first child, Paul Adriel, was born at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. They later moved to Bangor, ME where Sidney worked at Dow Air Force Base, and they had two daughters - Judy Roanne and Eloise Lenore.

The family made the big move to San Diego, California in 1960, where Sidney continued to work for the federal government as a civilian at North Island Naval Air Station. Sidney and Rena lived their California dream life until 1982 when Rena died of cancer. Sidney retired shortly after that, but remained in San Diego with his children. He never remarried, but began traveling with his son and became recognized as one of the few remaining WWII veterans. Their travels led Sidney to meet the Dalai Llama, Prince Harry, and former President Bush Sr. (at the Houston Rodeo).

In 2018, shortly after his 99th birthday, Sidney embarked on a new journey he called the No Regrets Tour, making up for a regret of missing a chance to meet Civil War veterans at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. "That was the biggest regret of my life," he would often lament. The goal of the national tour was to visit all 50 states and meet all 50 governors to raise awareness of our veterans and give as many people as possible the chance to meet a WWII veteran before they're all gone.

Sidney met his first governor, Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, on 4.24.18. On 9.28.21, just four days before he died, he met Governor Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, his 40th governor. In between, he received an impressive array of honors that included meeting the President in the Oval Office, sitting behind President Trump onstage at the 75th anniversary of Normandy, the Coin Toss at the 2020 Super Bowl, the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Race, dinner with Gen. Mark Milley at his house in Virginia, and the 2020 Patriot Award for Unsung Hero. Even Fort Knox opened up for him.

He was also honored at the 2020 World Series at Washington Nationals Park, Boston Red Sox on the field at Fenway Park, L.A. Lakers center court, Dallas Cowboys 50-yard line, Boston Bruins hockey, Chicago Cubs on the field at Wrigley Field, and NY Knicks center court at Madison Square Garden.

Along the way Sidney was an honored guest at events ranging from the Westminster Dog Show to the Wash. D.C. Memorial Day Parade in 2019, to the Veterans Day Parade in 2019 in NYC, where he was pushed in his wheelchair by the Mayor up 6th Ave. In Nashville this year, John Rich dedicated a song to Sidney that aired July 4th in a national TV special.

Sidney was Best Man at his son Paul's wedding in January this year, which he'd waited 65 years for.

Funeral services will be held at El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego, Thursday, October 7, at 1:30 pm. A GoFundMe [https://gofund.me/12b7a6a4] has been set up to help pay for expenses. For more about Sidney and his crusade to bring America together, see www.GoSidneyGo.com.

Services

  • Visitation

    Thursday, October 7, 2021

  • Graveside Service

    Thursday, October 7, 2021

Memories

Sidney Walton

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Lora Bronson

October 5, 2021

My deepest condolences to Judy, Ellie, Paul and family. Sidney was my father's best friend. They met as kids in Brooklyn, New York and never lost touch throughout their lives. They supported and inspired each other, and were friends to the end.

I was fortunate to get to know Sidney after my father passed away, and I relished the stories he told me of his and my dad's adventures and friendship. Sidney was truly an extraordinary man. My thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time. I share in your sadness, and celebration of his life well lived.

Very Sincerely,
Lora Bronson

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Sidney traveled the country in his unique, patriotically-wrapped Buick Enclave, which became an iconic image in photos.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Sidney traveled the country in his unique, patriotically-wrapped Buick Enclave, which became an iconic image in photos.