My good friend Tom Braid said it the best: “It’s a name everyone has in Edmonton heard for years, but nobody knows what he looks like.”The name: Walt Buehler.If you’re an Edmonton Oilers fan and listened to any broadcast since the 1980s, you’ll know what he did for decades, first for CFRN Radio and then for 630 CHED.Walt was the sound engineer. He was the gentleman working silently, plugging cords in, testing lines and troubleshooting — anything and everything — in record time to get the Oilers game back on the air.Walt brought the voices of legendary play-by-play man Rod Phillips, analysts Ken Brown, Dave Semenko, Morley Scott and Bob Stauffer to life.He also captured the sounds of the thousands of Oilers fans below his press-box seat with their instant reaction to every Oilers goal and save.Walt also made sure everything was working to maximum capacity that historical day in May 1984 when Edmonton fans celebrated like never before and broadcasted the joy of the Oilers’ first Stanley Cup.When Walt didn’t have his headset on, he was to first to slap an old friend on the back, or give a new friend a warm and welcoming handshake … and, of course, his signature line when leaving the rink after an Oilers home game.“See you next game. Now, straight home.”Walt picked up a cellphone call mid-morning and, after initial greetings, he said something to put everything in perspective.“I don’t know how much time I’ll be here.”My friend Tom — former Edmonton Sun photo editor who still has his eye on everything — called last week to point out a Facebook post from Walt.The title of the post is Visitors, Wanted and Welcome.Walt has cancer. Terminal cancer. Chemotherapy and surgery, sadly, will not help.After a recent doctor’s visit, Walt got some more news that wasn’t good.
A recent photo of Walt Buehler.
So along with his wife Elana, who is also having her own significant health challenges, Walt took to Facebook to invite friends to come for a visit.Walt graciously declined friends to bring food because eating for both Elana and himself are now challenging.“We never know what’s palatable day to day,” Walt wrote.This is a remarkable act of courage, trumped by Walt and Elana’s love of their friends.Rather than sitting back — which is completely understandable — they want to be with friends and share.It’s a rare opportunity that we are given a chance to have some time with friends who have limited timelines.How many times how have we said: “If I would have been able to see someone just one more time?”If you have never met Walt, but you want to send a message, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward it to Walt, who I first met in 1984.Walt has been responsible for thousands of hours of conversation.Let’s embrace that … and thank him.
From left: Rod Phillips, Ken Brown and Walt Buehler.