Orphaned at a young age and forced to fend for himself on the unforgiving streets, Burt’s story could have been one of despair. Yet, it became one of incredible resilience and contribution, shaped by the kindness of a local butcher and the crucible of global conflict.
Burt’s life was full of hardships and turmoil from a young age. His parents died when he was a child, and for five years, he was forced to live on the streets and eat out of garbage cans. A butcher eventually took him in, giving him a job and a place to sleep.
When he was 18, Burt and some friends were spending time together and heard the news that Pearl Harbor was attacked. They enlisted three days later. After training for three months in Louisiana, Burt got the call and headed overseas to the war.
He was wounded in action on the beaches of Normandy and sent to England for several operations. After his recovery, he was sent to the Philippines, where he and his fellow soldiers were preparing to invade Japan, but those preparations were ended when the U.S. dropped the A-bombs.
Burt then went to Yokohama for a few months to do police work. When his time in Japan was up, he returned to the U.S.
Back in Chicago, Burt got married, started a family, and served as a police officer for 12 years. He eventually bought a restaurant and tavern and was able to put his two sons through college. Despite his hardships, Burt’s resilience and positive attitude remained unwavering.
After building quite a life for himself, he retired to North Bend around 30 years ago. Since then, he’s been an everyday hero, walking the streets and engaging with locals.*
Burt’s long journey has inspired the North Bend community, putting others before himself and serving as a local hero. He celebrated his 100th birthday on February 7th, 2023.
As Tom Armour, his friend, once said, “In the Snoqualmie Valley, we don’t need to look to entertainers or athletes to be our heroes – we have our very own hero, Burt Mann, ‘The Walking Mann.’”
As we bid farewell to Burt ‘Walking’ Mann, we remember the trials he overcame and the legacy of strength, kindness, and community he leaves behind. His life, a beacon of hope and inspiration, stretched across a tumultuous century, witnessing the extremes of human experience. From the harsh streets of his youth to the battlefields of World War II and later as a steadfast pillar in the North Bend community, Burt embodied the essence of a true hero.
His departure is not just a loss to those who knew him but a reminder of the extraordinary lives that quietly weave the fabric of our history. Burt Mann, ‘The Walking Mann’ of Snoqualmie Valley, will be remembered not for the fame or glory but for the simple, profound acts of kindness and the enduring strength of the human spirit he represented.
Rest in peace, Burt, and may your story continue to inspire future generations.
*Excerpts of this article were taken from an earlier article written by Danna McCall-Celebrating North Bend’s King of Kindness – Walking Burt Mann – on World Kindness Day – Living Snoqualmie