For students at Marina Village Middle School, their first lesson isn’t in the classroom – it’s outside as they’re walking into the building. “Mr. Knuckles” teaches them all very important facts about life that they’re not going to learn in the textbooks.
This adorable 94-year-old man greets parents with a wave, and their kids with what he calls “Wally-isms,” every single day. It’s been his tradition to do so for 15 years already and he’s never going to stop. He used to do it with his wife but she isn’t well enough to join him anymore.
His real name is Wally Richardson but they call him Mr. Knuckles because he gives each student fist bumps – or “ka-nuckles” as Richardson calls them – as a sort of hello handshake. Then he shares a few words of wisdom. “Be kind whenever possible,” he tells some students. When he tells the kids to be kind whenever possible, they respond by saying, “It’s always possible.”
He says he likes to teach life lessons to kids, before they become “too cool” to listen. Wally told CBS NEWS:
“I want them to retain something that they can take on in life later on.”
He explained how in his earlier years, he joined the Navy in World War II, was a fighter pilot in the Korean War and then flew for United Airlines. He says his own life experiences make him an expert on what kids won’t find in a textbook. This new gig as Mr. Knuckles began when he was on his daily walk.
Anyone who knows him and knows about what he’s doing can’t help but love him and be impressed by his actions. Cheryl Olson, the school superintendent, said:
“It takes one significant adult in a kid’s life and you can impact them forever, and Wally is that person with kids.”
What he’s doing is a labor of love, and as Wally would say, “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” His only hope is that he will pass on important life lessons of “love and kindness” that will stick with these children for the rest of their lives. Wally said:
“If they can be kind and loving to people in life, they won’t have any trouble getting by.”
There is no age limit or boundaries to goodness. A good word goes a long way. Wally is a true serviceman, a great American and a role model. He is a perfect example of someone serving their country and it’s people. There’s no better way to do that than to take time to form a meaningful friendship with the children who will become the future of the nation.
You can watch him in the video below. He is so sweet it might make you want to cry.