LEXINGTON, Ky. — Claude Hammond, who served as editor of The Lane Report in the early 2000s, has published a book about his longtime friendship with William Wallace “Wally” Carr. Hammond describes Carr as a man who, for many years, was a “living landmark wandering around Lexington’s downtown and the University of Kentucky campus.”
He looked like a street person. But William Wallace “Wally” Carr was entirely something else.
Scholar. Friend of royalty. World traveler. Champion swimmer. Philosopher. Hero against the Nazis.
These are accurate words that describe Wally, who wandered the sidewalks in and around the University of Kentucky campus for more than 30 years — a walking Lexington landmark. Wally was sort of a disheveled Jedi Master, who, even in his 70s and 80s, constantly enrolled and re-enrolled in the University’s Shakespeare and Latin courses (two subjects he could have taught, if he wanted — he had most of Shakespeare’s works memorized). Wally mostly kept to himself. Few people ever made the effort to speak to him or ask what he was about.
Hammond chronicles his years as Wally Carr’s friend, aide and apprentice in the 1980s. As a young businessman, Hammond was approached by friends who were trying to help Carr recover from a stroke. Carr, who struggled with mental illness, had lived with his parents since the 1950s.
With the passing of Wally’s parents, he fell upon hard and dangerous times. With Hammond and other friends coming to the rescue, the results were touching, sometimes hilarious. Wally Carr’s circle of friends ranged from Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Kentucky Gov. A.B. “Happy” Chandler to perennial political candidate Gatewood Galbraith and James “Sweet Evening Breeze” Herndon.
The book, titled “Wednesdays with Wally: Adventures with the old man from the all-night restaurant,” was independently published and is available on Amazon.
Claude Hammond now serves as chief operating officer for an orthodontic and dental continuing education company with offices in Texas and the United Arab Emirates. He is the former chief editorial officer for Lane Communications and supervisor of public Information for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. Hammond currently resides with his wife, Dr. Chris Baker, in Texas.
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