TALK OF TAKOMA: Walt Rave, advocate for animals, dies after house fire

Walt Rave

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.

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5 Comments on "TALK OF TAKOMA: Walt Rave, advocate for animals, dies after house fire"

  1. Walt was a real-life hero of mine, a one-of-a-kind, colorful activist of incredible courage. He was unafraid of tackling the issue of human overpopulation, for instance, even though the topic seems to be taboo to so many, and he did so with his usual unapologetic bluntness. Yet he was also a man of great humility, which was, ultimately, a reason for his support for animal rights. He was too humble and modest to think that his habits and fashions were worth the suffering and deaths of so many other sentient beings.

  2. We love you Walt.

  3. Words cannot express the feelings that come to mind when thinking of Walt….. noble, legendary, visionary, bold, unique, spirited, inspiriing, courageous, self-sacrificing, compassionate, uncompromising, unfailingly gracious… these words only begin to scratch the surface of the character that was Walt. Rest in peace, my friend. Your bold spirit lingers in all of us who had the honor of knowing you.

  4. I got to know Walt in the 80s, standing with him at many a fur protest in D.C. I will never forget the story of how his cat was killed in a trap set for a raccoon. His dedication to animals was strong and inspiring, and I’m so sorry that his life ended this way. I hope everyone who knew him will honor his memory by always “showing up” for animals and never giving up.

  5. I have known Walter Rave since I was a little girl. He didn’t bother anybody. He walked the streets of Takoma Park for years with his fox which was a symbol of animal cruelty, and his cane. Sure he spoke out on cruelty of animals, etc., but he has a right to freedom of speech, just like everyone else. The fire was no accident; I truly believed that someone set fire to this man’s house. If you saw his house, which is right up the street from my mother’s house, you can see the front of his truck burned, but not the rest of the truck, so that’s a dead giveaway right there, and no burnt grass leading to the house, side of house not burned from the truck that was parked not even near the house but on a slope, to cause such extensive damage. Whoever set this fire set it in the front of his truck to throw the investigators off, to make them think the fire started from the hood of the truck and spread to the house. The front of this man’s porch is totally burnt and the fire spread to the inside of his house. This man had six cats that also perished in the fire. If the authorities are smart and do their homework and stop thinking this fire started from a dam truck parked not even near the house, they will find out it was not an accident. No one, NO ONE, had the right to set this man’s house on fire at 2-3am in the morning. Any smart investigator will see that. I should be in this line of work. Walter served time in Vietnam. He was a true vet. I will miss seeing him walking the streets of Takoma Park for many years. Many people loved Walter and many didn’t like him. You can fool the policeman, the fire fighters, the investigators, but you CANNOT fool me. This was no dam accident, Walter was murdered. The people or person responsible for killing this man will reap what he sow down the road. You can run from man, but you CANNOT, RUN FROM GOD. VENGENCE IS THE LORD’S HE WILL REPAY, AND TRUST ME, HE WILL REPAY DOUBLE FOLD.
    And may I also add, Walter had his home built from the ground up. He served this country as well. I’m from a Military family so we will always appreciate our fallen hero, Walter Rave and keep him in our memories for serving this country full of hate. He made a difference when it came to animals because they do, have right to live just like we do. God blessed us with veggies and fruits, and nuts for protein, lifesaving water so yeah, I agree with Walter, why eat the animals. Instead of looking at him like he was a trouble maker, he was actually saving a life by advising you how to eat healthier. If Walter has family anywhere, I’m so sorry for your lost.

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