Silverton’s getting a new mural with a distinctly familiar face.
In his later years, Keith Dwayne Kaser didn’t say much to many people passing by on the Silverton sidewalks he owned, but those who had the time were treated to firsthand tales of Silverton’s history.
People affectionately referred to him as “The Walking Man,” because of his occupation in later years of trolling the streets, picking up bits and pieces others dropped; and as “The Weatherman” because of his unfailing reference to the weather. Indelibly etched in many memories is the white-bearded gent, cap pulled down low, raising his hands and eyes to the sky – his way of appreciating the absence of rain.
“I recently heard that he told someone he didn’t bring his umbrella because he didn’t want to get it wet,” said his brother Kit Kaser. “I hadn’t heard that one.”
Unaware he’d become one of the fixtures that characterized Silverton, step by step; smile by smile, this rather mysterious man built a following, brought home to his family by the volume of those who came to pay tribute to him upon his death March 5, 2011, two days after his 73rd birthday. A photo of him taken by Marlin Hutton – a blue ribbon winner at the fair – hangs on the wall at Towne House Restaurant, where he’d gather over coffee with other locals.
People said a piece of Silverton departed with Keith, and for his family, things just didn’t seem finished. Kit and his daughter were talking one day and came up with an idea that would keep Keith where everybody expected him to be – in the heart of those Silverton streets, the subject of Silverton’s 23rd mural.
Keith’s brothers, Kit and Sam, offered to pay for the mural out of their mother’s trust. Silverton Mural Society quickly approved it, choosing Larry Kassel as the artist. It will be located directly across from the Old Oak Tree mural, another standard indelibly etched in our city’s history. The mural, Kit said, is a tribute to his brother who never married or had any children – who, in fact, always said “As long as my feet can run I’m not getting married.”
“All he required was friendship and someone to talk to, and that made his day,” Kit said. “He enjoyed talking to people, and if there was something he thought they’d be interested in knowing, why, he’d let them know, albeit we’re still trying to figure out where he came up with some of it.”
Most will learn more from the mural than they knew before. Born March 3, 1938, to Floyd and Mildred (Storts) Kaser, Keith and his three brothers and sister grew up in the Drakes Crossing area. He graduated from Silverton High in 1957.
“He grew up working on cars, and one of his first cars was a Model T,” Kit said. “He got that running, and from there he had his ’36 Ford convertible and he worked on that quite a bit…” A charter member of the Silver T Horseless Carriage Club in 1956, he liked to dress in keeping with the 1924 Model T he took to the streets for such events as the parade commemorating Monmouth’s Centennial Celebration, sister Jeanie in tow. He earned an auto mechanics degree at Oregon Technical Institute and he served as an Army mechanic. Keith was a Volkswagen mechanic for nearly 30 years before moving back to Silverton in 1991.
Donations may be made to the Silverton Mural Society or through the Silverton Chamber of Commerce, 503-873-5615.