“I started using heroin in 1968 while in the Army. Others were using it and asked me if I wanted to try it. The first time I used heroin, one of the guys injected it for me and after that, I was hooked. I served my hitch, even had Top Secret clearance, and got an honorable discharge.
After my discharge, I hopped from job to job. By now, I was on all sorts of stuff; heroin, cocaine, and even LSD. Drugs became my life. One day I just went home and told my wife, ‘I’m not working anymore.’ Instead, I started a life of robbery just to support my $100 a day habit. My feelings were dead. I didn’t care about anything.
In 1971, I was arrested and sentenced to seven 25-30 year sentences. I had to quit heroin “cold turkey.” The guards just let me lay on the floor of my cell in my own filth for three days. I never wanted to go through that again, so I quit heroin, but kept on using cocaine and marijuana (yes, it is easy to get in prison).
When I got out of prison in 1994, I started going through drug rehab programs. I tried psychotherapy, stress and anger management, and other things. Nothing worked. The whole time I was in a program, I knew I’d use drugs again. I was dangerous to myself and to others, so I was sent to the mental institution in Butner. It was there a counselor asked me, ‘What do you think can help you?’ I said, ‘I’ve tried everything but God.’ They referred me to the Durham Rescue Mission.
In the very first chapel service I attended at the mission, the speaker asked us to raise our hands if there was ever a time we received Jesus Christ. I raised my hand. After all, in 1985, I did something like that, and I was even baptized. But then he asked another question. “If you know 100% that you will go to Heaven, raise your hand.” You know, I couldn’t raise my hand. I really couldn’t say whether or not I’d get to Heaven. So, I went forward. A counselor took the Bible and showed me how I could receive eternal life through Jesus Christ. In October 2002, I got saved for real. God mended my shattered life, and I am happy to share with you that my family has been restored.”
After a brief battle with cancer, Walter was welcomed home by the Lord he loved so dearly. Born to Walter and Maxine Cole, Walter grew up as the son of a sharecropper in Oakridge. He served in the US Army during the Vietnam War, achieved Top Secret clearance, and received an honorable discharge.
Walter served at the Durham Rescue Mission from November 2003 to November 2011. As the Director of the Men’s Division, he was an inspiration to all. November 7, 2011, Walter received his Bachelor of Theology from Cedar Grove Baptist College.
He is survived by his loving wife, Leola Cole; sons, Walter Jr., Timothy, Mohamed, and Kwame; and his daughter, Nicole. Walter had a large extended family, which included many loved ones and friends.
A celebration of Walter’s life was held on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 11 a.m. at Fellowship Baptist Church in Durham.
In lieu of flowers, Walter requested donations to Nicole’s Scholarship Fund. Send to Fellowship Baptist Church, 515 Southerland St., Durham, NC 27703. Holloway Memorial Funeral Home is assisting the family.