I N M E M O R I A M
Well known carver and collector
A New Jersey transplant and just shy of 75, Walt Toler died suddenly in mid-May at this Fur Landing home on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. Most of us know Oler through his carving, collecting or his love of Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey, he and his family alternated between Camden and Beach Haven - both in winter and summer - fishing, gunning, clamming and doing bay things all his life.
Walt, as his father before him, and now his son Bill, owned and gunned Pettit’s Point on the Manahawkin side of the Bay. He retired from his fuel oil business, which he sold about 25 years ago. Son Bill learned carving “at his knee” so to speak, and throughout the last 35 years Walt and Bill Oler were a team at most of the decoy shows up and down the coast. Their style was Hurley Conklin, who they were good friends with, as well as fellow Jersey carver Bill Cranmer.
Walt liked to tell the story of Hurley visiting him in Virginia, where he and Bill took Conklin clamming – Chincoteague style. Walt and Bill threw a few hundred clams overboard before taking him out the next day. “Boys, these clams is thick,” Hurley said, who then proceeded to clam right out of his boots.
Oler befriended the Eastern Shore Virginia community where he took residence, particularly through his bird-dog pursuit of decoys. A fixture at local auctions, he always had a kind word and never hesitated to share his waterfowling knowledge and opinions. We’ll miss Walt’s kind manner, bearded face, his stories and his decoys.
Egg Harbor City, New Jersey