Who is Walter Franklin? Why is Cato’s Beach important to him?

17 02 2012

When asked, “How did you come to live in Jupiter,” some will respond, “I was born here.”  Others will say, “I came with Pratt and stayed.”

Fly fishing on the flats

Honestly, I was looking for an open, breezy house with a southeastern exposure and large overhangs that would allow windows to be left open during rain showers.  Found in the very back of Eagle’s Nest, that house was where we raised three children, entertained friends and family, and where my business office was located.  When my business closed, my children moved away, and the marriage ended, I chose to remain in the community that I had grown to love.

That deep appreciation for Jupiter came from helping business owners of Jupiter grow and prosper through active participation in the Jupiter Tequesta Juno Beach Chamber of Commerce, Jupiter Inlet Sertoma Club, Toast of the Coast Toastmasters, and my church.  My efforts included chairing the Chamber’s largest event:  Artfest by the Sea (We raised nearly $100,000 that year!), earning the “Volunteer of the Year” designation, and serving on the board of directors; receiving the Community Achievement Award from Sertoma for, “Recognition of Outstanding Accomplishments in Community Service;” and designation as the “Toastmaster of the Year” in recognition of “Dedicated and Distinguished Service.”

Along the way I have met, volunteered , laughed,  drank beer, cried, mourned, and prayed with hundreds upon hundreds of current and former Jupiter residents.  I’ve sold countless Christmas trees, strung tens of thousands of Christmas lights around Carlin Park (three times!), made and eaten more chili than one could imagine, and weighed fish.  I have helped put up and take down booths at Artfests, Pig Gigs, Holiday Lights, Chili Cook-Offs, Sea Festivals, and Independence Day celebrations, along with other people who have helped me to learn the history of this once sleepy community.

My life has been far from perfect, but like most of the genuine Jupiter residents, I haven’t hidden from my mistakes and shortcomings.  I am what I am.  My guiding philosophy has always been, “Friends are my chosen family.”  They give me strength.  They help me up when I fall.  They accept me and stand by me through thick and thin.

It has often been said that a church is not a structure, some glorious edifice with spires, flying buttresses, and statuary.  A church is a group of people who have joined together to worship and celebrate their common faith and beliefs.

I submit to you that my vision of a community; be it a village, a town, or a city; is a group of people who have joined together out of appreciation for and celebration of a geographic area.

Jupiter Inlet - Unlike any other

The battle being waged against the JILONA Working Group over the plans for Cato’s Beach is my attempt to preserve the very soul of our community.  The beaches in the Jupiter Inlet where so many people played in the water over the years:  Sawfish Bay, DuBois Park, the Coast Guard Barracks beach, etc. have all disappeared or are now “off limits.”  That is a tragedy that I’m trying to stop before Cato’s Beach is reduced to nothing but a memory. When industrial grade sheet pile retaining walls  finally stretch along every inch of shoreline, we will be just one step closer to completely destroying the inherent beauty that is the cornerstone of Jupiter.  Without a sense of community, we will be just a bunch of people living in the same place, no different than Lighthouse Point, Pompano, or Kendall.

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