by Greg Kohn
A Takoma Park man known for his unorthodox manner of protesting animal cruelty died Saturday morning, December 10, from injuries sustained during a house fire, according to Montgomery County Fire Chief Fred Graham.
Walt Rave, 66, was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Washington Hospital Center about 2 a.m. on December 7 after a fire started in his truck and spread to his house at 29 Holt Place. Rave, who had been asleep and suffered from mobility problems, was forced to escape the two-story frame house by passing through a blaze of flames on his front porch.
He was burned over 90 percent of his body. The exact cause of the fire remains a mystery, but fire officials ruled it an accident.
Friends and neighbors gathered Saturday morning in Rave’s hospital room to say their good-byes as he was taken off life support and allowed to die peacefully.
“He had a huge impact on a great number of people,” said Andrew Partan, Rave’s next-door neighbor. “People came from all over to see him, and the hospital was swamped with calls asking about him. It just showed how many lives he touched.”
Rave, a Vietnam veteran, was a fierce supporter of animal rights. He could often be seen strolling through the streets of Takoma with a fox pelt and metal trap in tow, as a visual protest to animal cruelty.
“Walt was a dedicated animal rights advocate,” said Karin Anderson, a friend. “After he returned from Vietnam, he dedicated his time and energy to non-violence and a better planet.”
Rave was also known for running a tool library, which for several years offered residents free access to shovels, saws, axes and other handyman tools, before it closed in 2005.