Kelly Walters: Tribute to NRV man who put others first for more than 50 years

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 12:02 AM EST
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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The Town of Christiansburg and beyond are mourning the loss of Kelly Walters, a dedicated servant for the community.

Walters was a captain for 10 years with the Christiansburg Rescue Squad but served in the New River Valley for more than 50.

“Running a call with him was special because a lot of times he already knew the person, because everybody knew Kelly,” said Riner Volunteer Rescue Chief Logan Underwood. “Every time you had an interaction with Kelly it felt very personal; it was very one-on-one with him and he was very genuine.”

Walters was a man who put everyone before himself, and it didn’t take a pager for him to lend a helping hand.

“Kelly would sacrifice his time with his family and friends to go help somebody and not think twice about it, and to give back to the community and not want anything in return,” said Lt. Brandon Turner from the Christiansburg Volunteer Fire Department.

“If he was in town and the tones dropped, you could guarantee he was coming or either coordinating it, and it’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that a lot of people will never know, that a lot of us still don’t know that he made things happen,” said Christiansburg Firefighter Doug Adkins.

In 1964, Walters was a member of the Christiansburg Lifesaving and First Aid Crew that we now know today as the Christiansburg Rescue Squad. He was also instrumental in starting Floyd County’s rescue, and Riner’s.

“A lot had to be done on Kelly’s behalf to actually birth that station as an independent and separate them from Christiansburg as a substation,” said Former Montgomery County Emergency Services Coordinator Neal Turner. “Kelly was so proud.”

After 56 years of serving his community, Walters knew most of his patients and went above and beyond the call of duty.

“It’s amazing that at that age he was on his knees and still doing CPR,” said Assistant Fire Chief Danny Yopp.

Only four years ago Walters helped the Yopp’s son after he went past his house on a run and went into cardiac arrest.

“You can’t feel nothing but admiration for someone at that age that still has the ability to help people and not afraid to do it either,” Yopp said.

Neal Turner said Walters helped over 30,000 people from the New River Valley during his career.

“I think he showed love and kindness to everyone he met and I try to pass that on, and even the patients that we pick up over and over, it’s still like you’re picking them up for the first time, and you show them that respect and that kindness because that’s what he gave to everybody,” said Christiansburg Rescue EMT Bobbie Wines.

Walters’ seat for ‘coffee club’ every morning at the fire department might be empty now, but his memory will never be forgotten.

“I would hesitate using the word legend to about anybody, but I wouldn’t hesitate using that for Kelly,” Neal Turner said. “Kelly Walters is a legend.”

“There is no other person like him and there will never be another person like him; he broke the mold,” Underwood said.

Walters passed away Saturday at the age of 84 after suffering from cardiac arrest.

Mayor Mike Barber has asked the town’s flag to be flown at half mast in his honor until Wednesday.

Walters’ funeral will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Auburn Baptist Church with Rev. Neal Turner presiding.

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