My Brother Walt

By Alan Doshna

I was never really close to my brother Walt, being his junior and youngest of the family, as our lives went in different directions after we grew up. So although I didn’t really know him that well after that, I would like to share a few of my experiences with him.

Walter J. Doshna
Nov. 21, 1953 - Oct. 19, 2013

It was common knowledge among our friends and family that Walt was the most beautiful little boy you would ever want to see, with his blond hair and blue eyes. Our mom was encouraged to have him be a baby model and older brothers from a different father, Don and Frank Prokop, showered him with love, attention and presents.

That is, until I came along three years later. Not only did I steal much, though to be fair not all, of the attention because of my being the youngest son, but due to my mother having had me when she was in her forties, I was a sickly and difficult child for many years after that. Bad enough that he now had to play second fiddle but he was also compelled to sacrifice for me such as having to give me his prized toy airplane when I was two years old and in the hospital, which seemed to establish an uncomfortable pattern for him.

Although he would later establish a prominent auto repair shop in the city of Syracuse and become a devoted family man, some rebellious teen years were no doubt due at least in part to the breach caused by our relationship. Even so, by the time of high school, most teachers seemed to like and respect him, the other guys admired him and the girls had secret or not so secret crushes on him.

Walt was cool even before “The Fonz” was cool.

Brothers Alan (left) and Walter Doshna

If our relationship was somewhat strained, on more than one occasion he was there to protect me from bullies.

One day in middle school, a class activity that I had trouble with led to a confrontation with two former friends afterwards. One of them, taller and heavier than me, pushed me hard against the wall. I was so distraught and humiliated by it all that I called my mother to send Walt to take care of the situation, which she did.

Running down the hall towards the parking lot I passed by the one who pushed me and mentioned something thing along the lines of “My brother’s gonna kick you’re a**.”

Once outside waiting for Walt, under the midday sun covering the wide area across the parking lot, parallel road and front lawn, I began to feel decidedly as if at the climax of a Sergio Leone western. Turning around I noticed a number of school personnel, some of whom had dealt with him previously, peering out the windows. No doubt they were worried about their jobs and legal ramifications of what was to occur when the force of nature named Walt Doshna would touch down.

Walt pulled in, parked the car, approached me and asked me what was going on, which I told him. Just then, the 6”4’, imposing vice-principal came up and asked Walt what he was doing here.

“Some kids have been picking on my brother,” Walt replied.

“If you come on to these grounds, I will call the police and have you arrested,” the principal responded.

I believe that all three of us knew that if the situation warranted it, Walt would have done whatever he needed to do, notwithstanding. But both Walt and I both realized at that point that discretion was the better part of valor. To have escalated the situation would have undermined the point which was now clear to everyone: “Leave my brother ALONE!” Walt turned to me and said “See you later”, calmly walked over to his car and drove off.

Later I became friends again with the kids I had the problem with, and the teacher was much nicer to me from then on.

In a lighter moment, one Sunday night someone at home accidentally locked the bathroom door with the bathtub water pouring out full blast. Not knowing what to do, my mother called Walt at the Mobil station where he was working alone and which was about 5 or 6 blocks away.

“I’ll be right there!” he said.

He locked up the station, got in his car, sped over to the house and pulled into the driveway. He ran up the stairs, through the hallway, put his back against the wall facing the bathroom and kicked the door open.

He then ran through the hallway, down the stairs, got into his car, sped over to the station, opened it up and nobody knew that anything had happened!

By the way, the lock has been off the door since then.

After college, I moved out to Southern California. Within the year, however, I came back to attend Walt and his wife Barbie’s wedding. At his bachelor’s party the night before, he had a little too much to drink and in the back seat of the car on our way home, he leaned his head on my shoulder and dozed off. Sitting there, thinking of all that had come before and all that was likely yet to come, I somehow knew that this would probably be the closest I would ever be to my brother Walt in this lifetime.

A few weeks before he passed away, my brother Don and I dropped by to visit him, sitting on his front porch. After about an hour he said he was tired and wanted to lay down. As he walked away, he said “See you guys later…somewhere or another.”

I look forward to catching up at that time with my brother Walt.