He was named Walter but he was known as Wally for his entire life.
Wally Flewelling was a life-long resident of Belmont, who left town to serve his country and to find a bride before coming back to participate in leading the town during a transformation from a town attempting to retain its small town roots into a modern suburb.
Flewelling, who served as a Belmont Selectman for 21 years in the 1970s to the 1990s, died suddenly at his home this weekend. Flewelling was 83.
"He had an affable, engaging way of approaching people and encouraging them to do what was best for the Town," said Ann Marie Mahoney, who served on the Belmont School Committee while Flewelling served as Selectman.
"He worked hard, enjoyed his many roles in town government, and loved Belmont High School sports," said Mahoney, who would also serve as a Selectman.
"Wally Flewelling and I often differed on issues affecting the Town, but we always shared a mutual respect, knowing that each of us wanted what was best for Belmont," said former Selectman Paul Solomon.
"I am saddened by his passing. Our community has lost a devoted and hardworking public servant and citizen," he said.
Born to a former Maine farmer who came to Massachusetts, Flewelling would spend his nine decades in town, living within a mile or so from where he grew up in the Payson Park neighborhood.
In an interview in the Summer 2009 Belmont Farmers Market newsletter, Flewelling recalled the town of his youth, with two working farms nearby including one owned by the family of his good friend, Phil "Flippy" Hittinger in where Flewelling would work picking strawberry for 25 cents an hour.
Flewelling was also known as an athlete at Belmont High School including playing three years on the varsity hockey team.
"He graduated in the Class of '48 and that was known as a "fun" class," said Mary Ann Scali, another life-long resident who a few years younger than Flewelling.
"When you thought of Wally you remember a smiling face and a chuckle. That's what sort of person he was," said Scali.
After graduation, Flewelling served for four years in the US Navy during the Korean conflict. Following his discharge, Wally married Marlene Becker from Needham and re-enrolled in Brandeis University where he graduated with a B.S. in Economics.
Wally and Marlene raised two sons, Walter and Rick, in the house on Bright Road, both graduating from Belmont High School.
Flewelling began his community involvement by being election to Town Meeting in 1965 and began serving the town in many capacities. It culminated when Flewelling was elected to the Belmont Board of Selectmen in 1973, serving for more than two decades until he decided not to seek re-election after his seventh term in 1994.
"One of Wally's many gifts was the ability to bring people of disparate view points together. Before 'consensus building' was the buzz word he was doing it," said Mahoney.
"I worked closely with him on several projects when he was Chairman of the Board of Selectmen and I was Chair of the School Committee and we have worked together on issues and projects ever since that time," she said.
In addition to Town Meeting – in which he served from 1965 to 1981 and 1995 to 2006 – and Selectmen, Flewelling was elected to the School Committee, served on the Warrant Committee for more than a decade in the 1990s to 2000s, on the Recreation Committee to name just a few.
He was also a member of the Belmont Rotary Club, the Oakley Country Club and the Massachusetts Association of Realtors.
In 2008, he joined Lawndale Realty as a Realtor and began a real estate show on Belmont Media Center.
"He was the best of what Belmont is. He was a wonderful mentor for me. I will miss him very much," said Mahoney.