Estate Sale Led Me To Learn About A Unique Life

Deborah Welky


I have just completed pricing everything in a home for an estate sale. This one was for a couple downsizing from a large waterfront home to something a bit easier to care for. By working together, we got everything done in five days — unheard of for a house as large as this one. But they slapped green tape on everything they wanted to keep, and I slapped blue tape (with a price) on everything else.

Even though they were in their 80s, these two worked like little dynamos. When I left at 7 p.m., they just continued on, packing up the car and, I suppose, unpacking it at their new place. It wore me out just watching them!

The guy, Wade, was really quite inspirational. As the dirt-poor son of two alcoholics, he dropped out of school at 16 even though he was at the top of his class. Wade couldn’t stand the taunting of his classmates anymore, but he simply did not have money for clothes. He was dyslexic, so he went to work as a painter. Then, having figured that out, enlisted his brother to open a painting company with him. They painted houses and then started using their proceeds to buy up houses — fix them, paint them and sell them. He went into the service, then became a commercial pilot for a while. He held a score of other jobs and then retired — at age 32.

Wade then bought a farm. “I bought it because I wanted my kids to know what work was,” he said.

But it wasn’t all work. Wade soon bought a motor home and, every summer, he’d pick up his kids on the last day of school and they’d tour the United States. The day before school started up again in the fall, he’d bring them back.

“We went everywhere!” he said.

Wade’s house said a lot about Wade. It was neat and tidy and organized. There were taxidermy ducks on the wall and 15 fishing poles in the shed. There were tools, three guitars, some bluegrass magazines, a compound bow and a box of slingshots, all worn to a frazzle.

“I’m not bragging when I say I’m probably the best slingshotists in the world,” he said. “That’s what they call me — a slingshotist.”

No trophies or medals to prove his point — why did he need them? He knew.

Wade was selling his Mercedes as part of the sale, and it was a beauty — 54,000 original miles.

“I love it, but I can’t get in and out so easily anymore,” he explained. “Anyway, I believe in using things up, and I’ve already had my fun with it.”

Off the screened-in porch — the one with the hot tub — he was selling his 8-foot taxidermy alligator. He caught it himself, of course.

“But I’m not selling the 12-footer,” he said. “Big Al is coming with me. Hey! Do you enjoy this line of work?”

“I do. Learning how a person put eight decades of their lives to use is never dull.”

“And it all comes to this,” Wade laughed. “Well, on to the next thing!”