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Walter was one of the funniest and most clever people I have ever met. Every memory I have of him is filled with humor, which made it so difficult for me to accept his disappearance. For a long time I tried not to think about it as a way to avoid accepting it. It was also difficult to associate him with something so negative. I knew Walter throughout high school and he always found the humor in everything, often in the most creative ways. The memories I have of those years in high school with Wally and the group that we would often hang out with are some of the best memories of my life, and knowing Wally made me a better person in many ways. His memory will always live on in the people that he inspired and the joy he brought to us. He had all of the gifts to accomplish great things, but in such a short time he managed to have a positive influence on so many people, more than most people who live to be a hundred ever do.

Harry Pantazopoulos

Walter was a great friend to not only myself, but many others with whom we lived in Lowell. The memory of him is as fresh in my mind today, as the day we all parted for college. He will never be forgotten as long as people such as you work to keep his memory alive. Thank you.

Kittie DeLuca Pain - LHS '96

Although it is difficult for those of us who have known him to accept his disappearance, it is hard to feel sadness for a person who cared so much for others. Everyone who ever met Wally feels a void without his presence, but we are also grateful to have known such a selfless person. I, for one, am grateful that I have known a person such as Wally, and I, like all who met him, can only hope to impact the lives of all I meet so positively.

Shane Lampman

When I read the news paper I felt very bad for his family. I am going to pray for him every day to hope he is found.

Sara Cardinal

This is a great idea Sheila! My thoughts and prayers are always with you!

Stephanie Boc

Nice Web Page for a Nice Person

Dan Hurley

I didn't know Walter but I know his Mother and Family. Our prayers are with your family to find Walter.

Barry Deslauriers

This is a wonderful way to keep Walter's memory alive. He is in my thoghts and in my prayers.

Melanie Francisco

I went to St. Margaret's and Lowell High with Walter. He is so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family. He is in my heart everyday.

Kristen Voutselas

I went to high school with Walter, and this is such a great tribute. He is a very lucky person to have friend's and family like you. Thanks for keeping Walter in our hearts.

Brian Southworth

Wally was always a hilarious presence in the La Paz crash-pad. He was one of the few people that everyone liked and is missed by everyone in La Paz. We will continue to look for him and look forward hopefully, to his return to his family and friends.

Heather West

I have known Walter since the day he was born. My ex-husband and I are best friends with Walter's mom and dad, Walter and Shelia, and with the whole family. I have so many fond and funny memories of Walter that it would take me forever to write them all.

I remember giving Walter a drum set for his first Christmas, and holding him for the first time when he was an infant. We tease him about this incident because back in 1978 white painter's pants were the in thing, and that is what I was wearing when I held him for the first time. Boy did I get a surprise deposited on my lap wearing my white painter's pants. All these years later and we still laugh about it.

Walter has been such a smart and funny person his whole life. No matter one's age, you can't help but enjoy Walter. He sent us a wonderful email last Christmas. I will always treasure that email, as well as the last time that I saw Walter J. He and Walter, Sheila, Danielle, and Christopher came over for supper, the week before he left for the Peace Corps. We had a great time watching old home videos of everyone in our two families for the past 10 years. It was great. Walter is in my heart, thoughts, and prayers daily.

Cheryl Sullivan

I agree with Walters mother on the US government having the responsibility to find Walter. I feel that in some instances more could have been done in the beginning. Being a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia I know that even though the search is not as intensive as it was just after they discovered Walter missing the search still continues. Just last month Bolivian police and military were out in Palca and Ventilla (near the Takesi Trail where I work part time) putting up fliers and questioning local people.

Walter was very good friend of mine and just like everyone I hope something is found no matter if it means he is dead or alive (Ojala!!!). Everyone in Peace Corps Bolivia, including everyone in his training group B25 and La Paz department PCVs, thinks about him daily and misses him and his sense of humor greatly. I will carry the memories of Walter with me the rest of my life and will always hope to hear him say one more time "thats halarious."

Tony LaColla

It's baffling, frustrating, and horrible that Wally's not the "super volunteer" that I imagined him to become as a PCV in the Zongo Valley. I always wanted to know what was going on in his clever brain or what joke he'd prank on who next... we need Wally

Sarah Petersen

I miss Wally terribly, but I am remaining hopeful and optimistic. I will continue to pray that he is found soon. I think this website is a great thing and a chance to keep the fact that Wally is missing in people's minds... hopefully this will lead to his being found.

Mike Tribe

The only person I know who could be your worst enemy and best friend in the same day.

Erik Eiswirth

Wally is the kind of guy who could make you smile... sometimes wanting to hit him and give him a fat hug at the same time. He is a fire ball of life. Although he is deeply missed he remains within our hearts and memories as Wally, the funny, Wally, the strong, Wally, the guy you can't help but always love.

Erin Camarena

I met Wally in peace corps. He was a person that I always looked foward to seeing whenever I went into La Paz. He always made me laugh.

Amy Schultz

Any moment I remember with Wally laughter follows.

Adam S. Staats

All growing up Walter was like my big brother, you know the "pain the ass" you can't help but love. He was the one to give Danielle and I a hard time no matter what we did, but after all we were "Screach & Scream", and only so much tolerance could be expected. Throughout the years we grew and went our separate ways but Walter has and always will remain in a special place deep within my heart as the Big Brother I never had! Thank you for being a part of my life. Forever in my heart & prayers...

Kaitlin Sullivan

Since the day I was born, Walter has been an enormous part of my life. On certain occaisions, our families would get together and talk all night long. I always enjoyed his intersting conversations and stories. He is a truly dedicated individual, who puts other people's concerns before his own. I am fourteen now, but when I was smaller Walter always entertained me and kept me company while our parents talked. Walter's Dad is my Godfather and my Dad is Walter's Godfather.

I pray for his safe return everyday and I thank God for all the time that I have had with him. No one should have to go through this, especially Walter, Sheila, Danielle, Chris, and their family.

I love and miss Walter very much. The last time that I saw him was a well remembered evening, where we watch home videos from 10 years ago and he told us many jokes including that he was advised to bring extra toilet paper on his trip.

Meghan Sullivan

I truly met Walter Poirier for the first time in a van on the way to Indiana. We were sophomores in high school, stupid beyond belief, and traveling to take part in a national Mock Trial Competition.

If you want to get to know someone, ride in a van with them for 20 hours.

On the journey, Walter established himself as the mischievous center of the group.

About an hour before we arrived, he suddenly began speaking in a Norwegian accent. He took on a pseudonym -- Sven Knapsack -- and remained in character for the rest of the weeklong trip.

In the elevator, he asked a stranger if she had seen his yak. He told women at the beach to join him at the yak festival in his hometown. He had no fear.

It was the stuff of high-school legend.

There were always the pranks -- flag-stealing, egg-throwing high school pranks.

But whenever anyone mentioned his mischievous side, he would always just shrug it off. He wanted to show people a good time, but he also knew there was a lot more to his personality than just a prankster.

Everyone at school called him "Wally," and that was the public persona he emanated that garnered him all his popularity. But "Walter" existed too, and that part of him was a little more insightful, more mature than the rest of us.

I remember walking with him in the tunnel connecting the two buildings of Lowell High. We were walking side-by-side, and another student who had noted behavioral problems was walking in front of us, slamming his book bag against the glass of the walkway.

"He just wants attention," Walter said.

I asked him why he thought he knew everybody so well.

He didn't say anything, just smiled and nodded.

And it was true. He could see right through the high school masks all of us put on in a desperate attempt to gain acceptance. He never said anything, never used our flaws against us, but he knew. You could just tell in the way he looked at you.

Yet that soul-piercing honesty didn't work both ways. Most graduates of Lowell High -- myself included -- were often content to paint him into a box as class clown.

I remember writing a peer recommendation for him when he was applying to Dartmouth College. I focused on his sense of humor, his immense popularity, his ability to make everyone laugh.

When I handed it to him, he seemed a little disappointed. He assured me that it was fine, it was exactly what he wanted, but I could tell something was amiss.

My downplay of his sense of adventure, love of life, intelligence, generosity, unselfishness, and capacity for love disappointed him, I believe.

Now that I have a second opportunity to write the same letter, I will not let him down.

Through the fuzzy clouds of memory, I see snippets of our high school youth spent together -- driving the streets of Lowell on a Friday night, laughing until our sides hurt, going to get ice cream during the summer. And then after high school, when he went to the University of Notre Dame and I went to Holy Cross, there were the passing moments where we would see each other: Thanksgiving Day football games, spring breaks, Christmas vacation.

We lost touch during college, as tends to happen to high school friends. I would send him an e-mail or receive one sporadically, but we were living separate lives in separate states at separate schools.

I had heard through mutual friends that he was in the Peace Corps in Bolivia. Then, one day, I got a message in my in-box.

Just from reading his words, I knew that something was different. This was not the Sven Knapsack of our youth. This was Walter -- mature, insightful, grown-up and happy.

He was enjoying his time in the Peace Corps, he said, doing interesting things and meeting new people. He was learning the language, slowly but surely. He was lonely in his remote post, but content.

He was on an adventure.

When I got the phone call yesterday morning, it was simply too much to comprehend.

"Walter's missing," said our mutual friend Matt Steinberg.

"Missing? What do you mean missing?"

I thought he had been misplaced, or that Matt believed he was supposed to be in Lowell, when I actually knew he was in Bolivia. He wasn't missing at all. Just in another country.

But Matt was insistent.

"They put out an APB for him in Bolivia. Everyone's out looking for him," he said.

The news slowly began to sink in. I got that sick feeling, nauseous, wanting to throw up but trying to hold it all in at the same time. I wandered aimlessly from room to room, bedroom to bathroom to kitchen and back, looking for some kind of anchor.

After absorbing the shock of the news, I have come to realize that it is impossible that anything horrible happened to Walter.

I firmly believe he is on an adventure still, wandering around in the mountains of Bolivia, taking the time to watch a sunset or enjoy the scent of the forest. Maybe he lost track of time or found a nice mountainside village where he wanted to hang out for a while.

A few days from now, he'll wander out of the woods, look around and say "What's the big deal?"

Walter Poirier would not be gone so easily.

Susan McMahon (March 9, 2001)