I may have said it before, but I will likely say it again a million more times in my life: the passing of a celebrity is an unusual experience. As a society, we inevitably endure the “who cares? Millions of people die every day” responses. We get the “You didn’t even know him!” responses. We get the “I’ve been so-and-so’s biggest fan since before he was famous, so I am much more distraught than the rest of you” responses. But regardless of the various reactions to shocking news, we all react. Humans react, regardless of our opinion concerning said individual. We all react.
Saturday night, we received news that actor Paul Walker had died. I was at work. Twitter, per usual, informed me, and we are all weary enough of twitter hoax deaths that I waited confirmation before reacting. It was quick. Walker’s people confirmed quickly. Insensitive and unfunny “jokes” were made immediately. Kind and sensitive reactions to those jokes were made even quicker. Two of my coworkers didn’t know who Walker was until he was googled. The younger of my coworkers reacted seriously–he was her Big Crush growing up.
Yeah, Walker was a–fault me for it if you will–Paul Newman of his era, looks-wise, at the very least. Blonde hair, winning smile, and the most perfect oceanic blue eyes I can think of, he was clearly a handsome man. But there was more to him than all of that. There usually is.
Walker was most well-known for his Fast and the Furious franchise. There were six movies and though he did not star in all of them, he was very clearly the face of the franchise. Beside the well-known racing movies, Walker established himself by starring in various other films: Joy Ride, She’s All That, Varsity Blues, Pleasantville, Flags of Our Fathers, and my personal favorite Eight Below.
Much more than a movie star, Walker was a very under the radar humanitarian. Actors get a lot of flack for participating in charity work (for some obnoxious reason), but Walker was slightly different. When Haiti was severely affected by massive earthquakes in 2010, Walker took note of the lack of required resources for recovery and formed his own charity with a group of friends. Reach Out WorldWide, or ROWW, was founded and well looked after by Walker and those close to him. The charity focuses on “arriving quickly, clearing access, providing basic necessities and medical assistance to ease the survivors’ pain and bringing hope in the bleakest of circumstances.” ROWW expanded to focus on bringing aids to any region suffering from a national disaster.
Their motto is something I think we can all stand to remember: “ROWW operates on the philosophy that by making a difference in just one person’s life, the world has been changed for the better.”
Sadly, the car accident that took the life of Walker and his friend Roger Rodas (a co-founder of ROWW), occurred after leaving a charity event for ROWW. Though car accidents are always tragic, that added fact makes Walker (and his pal’s) untimely deaths a little harder to swallow.
Besides his film work and his selfless time with charitable events, Walker was the father to a lovely daughter.
I am certain not everyone will agree with this sentiment, but I have always had a theory about human beings. The way that other human beings take to a person is indicative of the kind of person that man was. From a fan’s perspective, losing an actor/producer/director/musician is hard, but upon hearing from their coworkers and friends, the fans can truly detect what kind of a person he or she was.
Hearing the outpour of emotion from the people who knew Walker has been hard, and sad, and reassuring.
Tyrese, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, and countless other celebrities who considered Walker a friend have tweeted or spoken out on various other social networking sites about what a great man he was.
Losing anyone at the age of 40 is tragic. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Walker–actor, father, humanitarian, and friend. I can only hope he felt as accomplished as he should upon his final breath.
Rest in peace, dear man.