Walter Kaylin, 95, died peacefully on February 15 at Apple Rehab in Guilford, Ct., after a long period of declining health. His two daughters were by his side.
Walter was born in New York City on June 28, 1921 to Rose and Alexander Kaylin. He grew up on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and graduated from Dewitt Clinton High School, then the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the Signal Corps during World War II. Walter’s first love was writing: He was anthologized by the Saturday Evening Post and worked for many years at Magazine Management, writing adventure stories for pulp magazines in a stable of writers that included Mario Puzo, Joseph Heller and Alex Austin. He wrote two novels, Another Time, Another Woman and The Power Forward. Walter enjoyed a late-in-life resurgence of his cult popularity with the 2013 publication of two collections featuring his stories: Weasels Ripped My Flesh and He-Men, Bag Men and Nymphos.
Walter was an avid sports fan since his days of visiting Yankee Stadium as a boy, once sending a pep-talk letter to a slumping Lou Gehrig, who sent a note of thanks in return. Years later, he found another hero in Muhammad Ali from the time he was Cassius Clay, not only for his prowess in the boxing ring but for his role in the Civil Rights Movement and his resistance to the Vietnam War. Walter expressed his own staunch opposition to the war in frequent, impassioned, well-informed letters to the editor of the local paper at a time when he was all but a lone voice.
He was a jazz enthusiast and a record collector; at his beachfront home of 52 years in Old Lyme, Ct., he played the piano at least an hour a day before enjoying a cocktail with his wife, Peggy, while gazing out at the waves and invariably remarking, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” He continued to play jazz piano at Apple Rehab, to the delight of his fellow residents, even when his right hand was contorted by arthritis.
Walter was predeceased by Peggy, both parents and his brother, Edward. He is survived by his two daughters, Jennifer Kaylin (Randall Beach), a writer in the communications office of the Yale School of Public Health; Lucy Kaylin (Kimball Higgs), editor of O, The Oprah Magazine; and four grandchildren: Natalie Beach, Charlotte Beach, Sophie Higgs and Owen Higgs.
Walter Kaylin was a charismatic, sharp, devoted, delightful husband, father, grandfather and friend–a man of boundless curiosity, searching intellect and deep social conscience. His family, who will carry him in their hearts forever, are grateful to the staff at Apple Rehab for their compassionate care. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in Walter’s memory may be made to Doctors Without Borders or the ACLU.