Longtime North Bend resident Burt “The Walking” Mann died on Thursday, Jan. 25.
Known fondly in the community for his predictable walking route, joyful spirit and words of wisdom, Mann leaves a legacy of kindness and strength in adversity.
For nearly 30 years, Mann walked the same route through North Bend, sharing stories of his life spent as an orphan on the streets of Chicago and the beaches of Normandy during World War II with those willing to slow down and listen.
Robyn Balcom, a friend of Mann’s since 2018, looked back on her time walking alongside him.
“Everyone that saw us honked, waved, stopped, got out of their car, ran over, and gave him a hug,” Balcom said. “I got to know him so well on our walks. Ever since he passed, people have left painted rocks and flowers on his bench. He will be missed.”
The bench, a favorite stop on his walks, was dedicated to Mann after he received the 2018 North Bend Citizen of the Year award. It sits outside the local post office, surrounded by plants Mann put in the ground himself.
“He was surrounded by a community abundant with love and appreciation for him, and he was an inspiration — determination and positivity personified,” North Bend Mayor Mary Miller said. “Everywhere I went this last weekend throughout town, there were tears and stories about personal experiences with Burt. He touched us all.”
A celebration of life will be held at the Mount Si View Community Center at 4 p.m. Feb. 7.
For more information, contact Robyn Balcom at 406-471-6542.