It’s been a rough summer for Tucson with COVID-19, the Bighorn Fire and our ongoing discussion about the role of the police. With all of that in the news, I missed the passing of a great Tucsonan and a wonderful human being, Walter Feiger.
Walter was born in Kraków, Poland in 1927 and. He lost his father shortly after the German invasion in 1939. Soon after, his family was moved to a Jewish ghetto called Chrzanów. Eventually, he was sent to a labor camp and eventually to a camp called Sakrau.
I used to pretend that I was invisible. If I was invisible, I wouldn’t get any beating. But one time, I was caught with bread in my pants. I got 50 lashes with an iron rod covered in leather.
The camp was eventually liberated by the Soviet Army. He migrated to Germany, France and finally to Israel, where he served in the Haganah, a Jewish militia in Palestine before Israeli independence.
He migrated to the US in 1956 and first visited Tucson in 1970. He fell in love with our town. He grew up reading westerns and was enchanted to see the real thing. He told a member of my staff that “Moses went to the wrong desert.”
He moved here and ran a liquor store on the east side for years. More importantly, he visited with community groups and schools, particularly in the Sunnyside District, and told his story.
He was a family friend, and a friend of my office staff as well. He’d make an annual visit to get his survivor paperwork notarized so that he could get a small stipend from the German government. He’d stick around for a chat, and would sometimes come by for other reasons.
Like many Holocaust Survivors I knew growing up, I learned a lot from Walter and valued his wisdom. Here is what he told the Jewish Post:
You know, my time here is short now. All I can do is convey what I experienced. I had a lot of tragedies in my life. But I have a zest for life. I am what you call in French, “a bon vivant,” somebody that enjoys life.
I tell my kids to associate themselves with people that are positive. Stay away from negative people, they drag you down. Positive people will uplift you.
I am very grateful I am not afraid of death. It’s a normal part of life. When my time comes, I’ll go. When God will ask me to come, I’ll come.
Walter passed away in June. His family asked that donations be made to the Midtown Sertoma Club in his name.
Thank you all for coming out to our Mask Up Tucson event on Saturday. In all, 1096 people came and picked up masks. We were able to give away over 7000 masks.
Monday, the American Red Cross and the Ward 2 Council Office will be hosting a blood drive at Udall Park from 9 am to 2 pm at Udall Park (7920 E. Tanque Verde Road).
As a precaution due to COVID-19, community members that want to donate must sign up to participate. The Red Cross is asking potential donors to visit redcrossblood.org and use the sponsor code “Ward2” to sign up for your appointment. It is also recommended that donors also complete a RapidPass either through the free Blood Donor App or online at redcrossblood.org/rapidpass on the day of the drive before you come to donate. If you would like to call to make an appointment, you can do so by calling 1(800)733-2767.
All donors at this drive will receive free COVID-19 Antibody Testing and be entered in a sweepstakes to win a prop from the movie "Wonder Woman". FYI: Sweepstakes winners will be announced in August, and antibody results will be available about 2 weeks after you donate through the blood donor app, or online through your blood donor account.