Sydney audio industry identity Walter Gerin died today at Calvary Nursing Hospice in Sydney. Walter had terminal cancer. He was in denial until this week. His story is told by Jeff Stewart, a friend and a former employee. Jeff was forced to close the doors at Anything Audio, Walter’s company, last week. “He had a cancer 18 months ago – and an operation. Then he got a lump in his groin, we suspect it was going on longer than he admitted, he is a typical male with the ‘I’m OK’ type thing. It wasn’t until the lump got bigger and painful that he got serious about it. The doctor’s gave him a bit of a runaround, and he didn’t follow up as well as he could either.”
Feedback on Walter at end of article, below. FUNERAL: 11.15am on Wednesday 4th August, Rookwood East, Sydney. Afterwards at Belmore RSL
Proposed Benefit: contact Muir if you can help out playing or with services. Proposed date Sat 4th Sept. Times approx 11.00am – 3.00 or 4.00 pm. Venue to be confirmed.Muir is at Loud ‘n’ Live Sound Systems Ph: 0417 268850 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“By the time he went in for pre surgery inspection the cancer had gone too far. He told everyone the cancer had receded. He told me some days he felt the lump was bigger, some days smaller.”
“He was continually saying he wanted to keep the business going, right up to a week ago. I ended up pulling the plug and resigning, to force the issue. It was really difficult trying to be loyal – to the business, to Walter, considering the legal and the moral ramifications. It was my last day last Friday. I feel guilty about it.”
“He’d been in St George Hospital for a month and a half, he checked himself out and went home for a week. He went back for a doctor’s appointment and they said he wasn’t going anywhere. He rang me in tears and said he wasn’t able to go out, and could we pick up his car which was parked in a 15 minute spot outside.”
“We went and turned off his TV, shut up his home, park his car.”
“He was in ridiculous denial – even after I resigned I suppose you could say I was forcing my hand – I couldn’t go on ordering stock off suppliers when I knew they wouldn’t be paid. I love the guy, but how long – at some point you got to think about what’s going on after the fact.”
“I spoke to him on Sunday and we had a good old cry together, but even at that point he said if I get out of here and get the business back will you come back. His (lack of) strength was shocking, it was like holding a conversation with a 120 year old man who was drunk.”
“Jim Morton was working one day a week (with us) as a book keeper – he used to work with Walter at Dunlop before he started in the industry. Jim went to see the bank and took the paper work in, they are going to appoint a receiver.”
“Walter ended up with nothing. The bank is owed $75,000, they’ll probably auction off the stock. The creditors may not get anything.”
“Walter always wanted to grow the business.”
Jeff Stewart was sombre and reflective as he narrated this story. He spent many years working with Walter, and is genuinely torn up to see it all go to waste.
According to Jeff (who I have known for 25 years) Anything Audio was in trouble for a while. “The trend towards cheaper equipment meant Jim was always saying to Walter that we needed to restructure, to cut costs. In the end, Jim was cut up that he would go to see Walter in hospital, and they would end up fighting about the business. He told me he just wanted to go and see him, as a mate.”
CX ran a story in July 2003 where Bill Millard, a customer of Walter’s, highly praised the firm. Bill had purchased some Coemar Pro Spot and Pro Wash fixtures for Burwood RSL in Sydney. “The guys are always a pleasure to deal with, I can stuff them around and they don’t seem to mind. Walter is so friendly and understanding of a customers needs.”
I remember Walter from Penrith Leagues Club, where he was the house tech in the late 1970’s. He ruled the gig firmly, and really did act in the clubs best interests. These were in the days before the club moved and became Panthers.
I’d changed from a lighting guy to a sound guy, but didn’t know the ropes. My band trusted me. Walter stood behind me when I mixed on the old Biamp desk. He pointed at the Roland Space Echo and said it was an effect. He showed me how to listen to the effect on the headphones. Of course I was out of my depth. I ran the effect up, listening through the cans, and then realised it was dominating the house mix at the same time. Walter was standing there with a grin on his face.
This is a truly sad story. Walter’s first marriage collapsed, and his two daughters didn’t see much of him. He remarried. He had been married a couple of days and Val got a leukemia diagnosis. She battled it for about a year. Walter stood by her the whole way through her suffering, most other people would have been out of there in a shot.
He got a beautiful little Schnauzer dog for Val, as company when she was ill. It died of a hereditary kidney failure six months later. The breeder felt bad, and gave them another, which also passed away in the same manner.
Walter is 53. He is extremely bright and very literate with language. He came to Australia as a child from Italy.
His first wife, estranged, passed away a few years after Val.
Walter clings to life as we write this. He didn’t ever let anyone take his photo as far as Jeff Stewart is aware.
Jeff Stewart has started an internet audio showroom, called ‘Almost Anything Audio.’ You can reach him by email: email@example.com
What are your reflections on Walter?
What about the male tendency to say everything is just fine when it isn’t?
How have we handled this story?
Should CX run stories like this one?
Email us at the link below.
This just in:
I have just read the very sad tale of Walter. I only met the man a couple of times many years ago, and as such won’t comment on him or his situation.
But I would like to say in answer to the fourth question at the end of the article, I believe that your magazine should continue to print such stories.
It serves as a warning to all of us, 23 to 53, that our health is our prime and perhaps only resource.
Looking after it, and dealing with problems, not only makes us live a longer and fuller life but negates suffering for those close to us, our businesses, and our associates.
Difficult to put into words with out sounding cold, but print more, print them all – that way we as an industry will learn from one another’s experiences.
I have known about Walter’s condition for about 2 months but did not know it had deteriorated so much until last week.
We have dealt with Walter on an ongoing basis for just over a year. The sadness felt by everyone at our company over Walter’s condition is very great.
To say this was a shock is an understatement. Walter was a real friend with everyone he dealt with and nothing was ever too much trouble.
He has made a lot of friends in the industry over the past 30 years and I know everyone sends their heartfelt good wishes too him. Walter was one of the few people that would never stuff anybody around… he genuinely cared for every person he had dealings with.
I don’t think anyone is surprised that he didn’t want to know about his ill health. That was just Walter… I never once heard him complain about a thing.
All he wanted was to work in his business till the end.
I think you should definately run stories on Walter. There are a lot of people in the industry that knew Walter and I think the whole industry will lose a mate when he goes.
All our thoughts go out to you Walter.
Pro DJ Specialists
This is very sad news. I heard through Jeff a couple of months ago that Walter had Cancer but you always pray and hope for a positive outcome.
I’ve known Walter for at least 17 years and I would call him a friend. We would talk maybe 4 times a year depending on what projects I was working on, some years a lot more and some less, but he always spoke to you as if you were his best friend and we would pick up from where we had left off as if it was only yesterday. He was always interested in what I was up to, how my family was, pictures of the children and how business was going and took the time to listen.
I first met him when he was working for the ARX shop at Gladesville. I was upgrading my churches PA. Here was this BIG guy, who looked like a biker, but was so kind and respectful to you and your needs. He would recommend the best equipment for your budget, but it wouldn’t always be the most expensive in the range, he really knew his stuff.
Walter and Anything audio have supplied me many pieces of equipment, the Church has had a number of upgrades, also radio stations I’ve worked for, installations (including “The African Queen” ferry, which Walter called it), when my family took over a cinema on the Central Coast nearly 7 years ago we totally upgraded the sound and Walter was the person I called, even now back in radio I’ve had contact with Jeff.
Over the years I’ve worked full-time in radio and cinema exhibition as well as part-time businesses in video production and audio installation / production work. Through all these jobs and ventures I have turned to Walter for his experience, good prices, professionalism and friendship.
It is a very sad time in my family.
We really feel for Jeff and wish him luck in his new venture.
Stephen Wilkinson (Debbie, Megan & Kate)
Optimum Sound Services
Peter & Irene Wilkinson
Kincumber Ritz Cinemas
Thankyou for writing this story, a life surrounded by such sadness and sickness yet whenever you spoke or saw Walter he never lost faith in life, business and particularly love, which is more than most of us can say.
He always said I was like a daughter to him, as Jeff said they were never there for him which made him very sad. I can only hope they are there for him now.
I shared tea at his house which always brought on tears of happiness and laughter. We would spend hours discussing love, life and business. He encouraged me with my business from the beginning and supported me through very hard times. He also helped me to see there is more to life than work, there is love, with many stories about Val, also funny stories of internet dates, which he tried several times and as I heard conquered many.
He always hassled me for being single “such an intelligent and good looking girl deserves happiness, If only I was 10 years younger Mardelle…..”. I would insist I didn’t need love but he helped me see that a life without it was 70% empty.
My now fiance also met Walter one day in March and that makes me happy as he saw me move on and smile. Thankyou Walter for making me open my eyes and heart again to love.
I felt ashamed yesterday when I held his hand and kissed his head that I had no idea of his sickness. I had not seen Walter for months as with each visit he was either not in or was asleep out the back and like all people our busy lives over rule such friendship in not pursuing him harder at this time.
The thing I will always remember about Walter, I think like all of us, was his voice on the other end of the phone, so professional, courteous, attentive and always with a smile. I will also remember his passion in business, his love of Val and his willingness to grasp life no matter what it throws at you. I will miss him.
As for your questions
What are your reflections on Walter? You know them
What about the male tendency to say everything is just fine when it isn’t?
As a female it is not just a male tendancy to procrastinate and ignore many things in our lives. As I say with all experiences, if 1 person changes there life from a story like this then Walter has left behind more than most of us. This is a lesson to all who have read this, it depends who is man enough to listen…..
How have we handled this story?
As I know a small part of the last few years of Walter’s life I say this story has been handled honestly and professionally, no crap involved. This is a mans life we are talking about, no one knows what his thoughts, beliefs and strategy in life was we can only go by what we see, lets leave it at that.
Should CX run stories like this one?
We are a small and close community and I think people would like to know about this sort of thing in this way rather than second hand gossip.
I am very disappointed to hear of this.
I went to high school with Walter, and was close friends with him for many years, during that period, and for some years after, till I moved to Melbourne.
Our birthdays aren’t that far apart, and so there was always the usual rubbishing about who was the older.
I was the “best Man” for him at both his weddings, and have lots of photos of him from the high school.
We drifted apart (as you do), particularly as we live quite different lives (I am gay, he was not). But we did get together a few times after I came back to Sydney.
I had heard that he had been in hospital, but not what for, so had no knowledge of his situation in the recent times.
I have been exceptionally busy this last few weeks, and had thought I would go and see him and his mum in the “next week or so”. This always proves you should never put anything off.
He was SUCH a nice man, with a kind and gentle temperament.
I have lost a good friend.
Gordon (Ruby) Richmond
Att : Julius
I would like to discuss the possibilities of putting on a benefit concert in Walter’s memory and to assist his mother Lillian by donating the proceeds from this venture to her.
I would appreciate your comments and thoughts as I have several resources available to assist with this idea.
If you have time to discuss this a little further I would be grateful if you could ring me at your earliest convenience.
Loud ‘n’ Live Sound Systems
Ph: 0417 268850
Hm 02 4647 2645
We will promote such a benefit here, and on our email news list. – Julius
Too many of our industry people go suddenly and far too early and lets be honest, we ain’t all necessarily stacking it away for the future like we should be!
I remember clearly the help you gave to a great old friend of mine in Rick Doolan of Bandanna Entertainment when he was on his way out. I still have that copy of the magazine with the story you did. It was a very nice gesture by you and we, Ricks crew and family, appreciated it very much.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Cheers, Mark Gibson.
Walter had been suffering from cancer for some time and unfortunately the disease was incurable. He was undoubtedly one of the nicest, most genuine and honest people that I have ever had the pleasure to know.
He will be remembered for his reputation as an accomplished retailer who survived difficulties that would have shattered most of us, including the death of his wife, Valerie, from cancer two years ago.
We will miss his smile, his optimistic outlook, his diligence and his inherent ability to turn your worst day into a positive experience just when you thought the deck was stacked against you.
I will advise details of his funeral service as soon as they come to hand. May he rest in peace.
I was deeply saddened to hear of Walters passing. I dealt with him a lot when he had his shop at Gladesville. He was always friendly, helpful and made sure my PA System I used to carry around at the time stayed roadworthy. He will be missed.
Saltec Pty Ltd
I only heard about his situation when David Betteridge of Loud & Clear rang to apologise for taking so long to reply regarding a repair we were doing for him. David used to do all his buying through AA. David and Walter had been friends for some time and David had been to see Walter in hospital. “This is the kind of place you don’t go home from”, he said. I’ve known AA for years, I think Walter and I have spoken on the phone a couple of times but never met however I feel I know him just by reputation and so, as the owner of a similar scale business, I know where he is at.
The male of the species is not uniquely pigheaded, we just get blamed for it more often than the girls. Part of the purpose of denial is to boost the hope of turning the situation around or that things are not as bad as you are being told. It can be hard to clearly see the difference between denial and strength, especially when it is YOUR world that is being torn apart. Is it strength that drags a small business owner to the office even when he is at death’s door with the flu, having done two late night gigs on the weekend but knowing that some important quote has to be finished today or he misses the sale?
Is it just stupid? Have we not ALL done it?
It is balance that is the most important. I have discovered that if you ring that important client on Friday and let him know you’ll have the quote in by Wednesday instead of Monday, nine times out of ten, they listen and agree. The tenth one was not that important (I now discover!).
How have you handled this story?
It would seem to me that, so far, CX have not printed anything that would upset or offend me if it were my story you were printing, which one day it might be.
Should you run stories like this?
I remember what I was doing when I heard that John Lennon was killed. It was big news at the time. I remember what I was doing when I heard Princess Dianna had been killed. Despite being “Philip Charles” Brainwood, I am not a royalist. I see them as a bunch of dysfunctionals in England, no different to what I might find in the next street but is ANY of it my business? No! Dianna’s death was sad but it was none of my business because I did not know her nor was I a part of her life. I knew a media-release image of her, I knew she was married to a guy and had two kids but I know plenty of families like that.
Do you, the (industry) media have a right to discuss these stories?
Do you have a duty to tell the (industry) world? Well…. Maybe and maybe not. There are so many people who, if you did not announce my death or significant lifestyle change in CX, would possibly never hear.
They would not have the chance to get in touch with my family and convey their sentiments so SOME public exposure can be a good thing. Does the whole world need to know the details of my illness / accident / demise? No. My family and friends can decide who should know how much. If people attend my funeral, they are likely to deserve more details than the industry.
dB Sound (NSW) Pty Ltd ABN 35 003 872 900
7a Bridge Street Rydalmere NSW 2116
PO Box D1016 Dundas NSW 2117
Ph (02) 9638 0777
Fax (02) 9638 0749
Walter Gerin was a rarity. And not just in our business.
He was passionate about everything he did. He was generous
with everyone he met. He was always optimistic, positive,
and encouraging. He cared.
Ninety percent of the gear in our warehouse came via Walter, because it was always delivered with professionalism, advice, support, and more than anything else, true friendship.
As Jo often reminds me, i never just went down to anything audio for five minutes. We would always talk for an hour or more, even when we were both in a hurry. He was that kind of a bloke.
He told me only recently that one of his fondest memories was the night of our wedding, nearly two years ago, listening to The Idea Of North perform and knowing that every piece of gear in the rig had come from him, on his advice.
Walter has paid a very large part in helping us get to where we are today, and i know that there are many others in our industry that would echo these sentiments.
I have lost much more than my best supplier. I have lost
one of my dearest friends today.
And to answer your question about the male tendency to say everything is fine when it isn’t, i say this: a part of me is really angry with him for not seeking help sooner, and angry with myself for not being far more agressive with him when he first told me of the diagnosis.
Even in the hospital a few weeks ago I believed he was going to kick this thing by the time I left. I guess I was in the same state of denial as Walter. Infected by his strength and his humour, but not by a cancer that ignores the character of the body it destroys. It is saddening to think that perhaps if he had done something sooner, we may still be drinking our coffee with three sugars and bemoaning the state of the world whilst pouring over glossy brochures and analysing specs and haggling prices.
As others have already written, when all is said and done, our health is the most important thing, the only thing besides our true friends, that matters.
Run these stories Julius.
We all forget far too quickly what our priorities are. We need honest reminders of what life is all about.
David & Jo Betterridge
Loud And Clear Audio
I knew Walter for about ten years, I first met him and Val when he was taking over the reigns of Anything Audio when it was originally based at Gladesville, I then worked for a small Pub Sports Entertainment company that was a tenant above the shop. Back then I was not involved in the industry but Walter would often explain to me how worked and what the equipment was used for in the shop. Walter & Val were lovely people, I was young and impressionable and both of them would often take the time to have a chat and give me advice.
As the years passed I always kept in contact with Walter, a few months back I visited him at St Peters and shared a cup of coffee with him like I would do on the odd occasion, I always remember his coffee cup was the size of him .. It was a bloody bucket not a cup! He would always ask me about the family, about my job and how the company was travelling. He would share with me his successes and we would talk shop. He did tell me that he had a cancer but implied that it was not that serious. Only a few days back I heard he was not well. On receiving your news this morning I am deeply shocked.
Walter was a lovely guy, a gentle giant, caring and genuine he will be greatly missed.
Grafton Sound & Lighting
It was only a week ago that I learned Walter was so sick. I had spoken to him a few months ago on the phone and he mentioned he had a bit of health scare but was sure he would overcome it and press on.
Walter purchased Anything Audio from me in the mid 90s after managing the business for a period of time. He was a genuine character with a friendly and polite manner. What he may have lacked in audio knowledge in his early days of the business he well and truly made up for in customer service. Walter certainly had his share of hard knocks in life yet from our occasional chats he stayed positive in his direction and worked hard to grow the business. It is unfortunate his vision was never for filled.
In respect to your questions we all probably have that word denial hanging over are heads. The “it won’t happen to me” syndrome is a simple human trait. To make peace with ourselves at the end of our lives is probarbly the greatest challenge we are faced with. I hope Walter found his own peace within. He will be sadly missed.
Australian Audio Supplies
He liked to go out and have fun but mainly if it had anything to do with sound, lighting etc…then he was always the first one there and the last one to leave – no matter the kind of function – I mean he even played the DJ at a party my sister and I had.
He was a person who lived life because it was there to be lived and it was terrible to see his love of life slowly seeping out of him.
I have to say that I am happy with this article, after all his dedication to the Industry, it’s nice to see that both he and his work were greatly appreciated and respected. I wish to Thank you for having this article and responses on your web site – I think that these kind of articles are good and you should definitely continue to run them – so that the family members can appreciate the love and support that is out there for their recently departed loved one.
I thank everyone for their support and kind thoughts at this time. But I would especially like to thank Jeff Stewart, Jim Morton and Muir Beck.
Jeff and Jim for all their help, support, loyalty and friendship over the years and their continued help and support over the last few months. Muir for the idea of having a benefit in my fathers memory, if this benefit could go ahead it would mean a lot to all of his family to know how many people out there are thinking of my Dad at this time.
For those of you who saw or spoke to him since he was admitted into hospital, please remember him for what he did in the industry and the kind of man he was before his illness, because this is what he would have wanted.
Remember the Walter that was joking and laughing with you, or the Walter that was listening solemnly and offering his best advice, just remember him the way he was.
I ALSO WISH TO REMIND EVERYONE THAT MUIR BECK FROM LOUD ‘N’ LIVE IS TRYING TO GET A BENEFIT ORGANISED FOR MY DAD SO THAT THE PROCEEDS CAN BE PASSED ONTO HIS MOTHER, LILIANNA. IF YOU CAN BE OF ANY ASSISTANCE PLAYING OR WITH SERVICES – PLEASE CONTACT MUIR ON 0417 268 850 OR EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
Proposed Benefit Date: September 4th 2004
Approximate time: 11am – 3 or 4pm
I have been in this industry for over 30years but have only had the pleasure of knowing Walter for the past five and as others have said he was without doubt a gentle giant.Walter employed me for 12 months after I left Bose and you could not wish for a better boss. He had vast experience and nothing flustered him. He came to my wedding in 2001 (and have photo) and I feel very privileged that he was there. I never heard Walter say a bad word about anybody and both my Wife and I will miss him greatly.
Yes Julius you should print these sad occasions in your publications so as we can all learn from others.
Miss you Walter,
I have just returned from an overseas holiday and I am saddened to learn of the death of Walter Gerin.
I first met Walter and Val at the Gladesville shop many years ago. I was immediately intrigued with his openness and his honest friendly way.
When they moved down to Balmain I used to call in regularly as a Rep.
for Ampex tape. We would talk about the industry, the gigs, industry trends and of course we would always swap jokes. I always walked away thinking :”now there’s an amazing guy”.
He was the type of person who became a true friend and so I was honoured to be invited to Val’s birthday function prior to her passing away. Jeff Stewart certainly was a good friend to Walter and he did the right thing quickly closing up the shop.
Such sadness…’tho tinged with “rosy edges”…as my memories of Walter and Val are positive and very uplifting.
He had a shortcut to people’s hearts.
May he rest in peace.
[Ex AMPEX Australia]
Published monthly since 1991, our famous AV industry magazine is free for download or pay for print. Subscribers also receive CX News, our free weekly email with the latest industry news and jobs.